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In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!
by Carol DeMar
"Conscientious," "principled," "accountable," "honorable," and "trustworthy" are among the adjectives that describe the word responsible. In our roles as parent and teacher, raising responsible children is of utmost importance. The endless stream of people in responsible positions getting caught in illegal or inappropriate behavior gives testimony to the sad state of affairs: reporters falsifying facts in newspaper and magazine articles; a former government official stealing documents; politicians taking bribes; the list goes on. Sadly, holding a responsible position does not make the one who holds that position responsible.
Begin in God's Word
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:
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.'"
Ask Angie: What should a wife do when the husband puts her down constantly and is verbally abusive?
Guidance: Your husband is having problems within himself. He is manifesting his feelings in aggressive verbal language to you because he us unable to manage his emotions properly. Usually people who put down others (judgmental and critical) are unhappy within themselves. Please print out this marriage column and read together with your husband.
Have you tried reading the bible together as a study and discussion about what you read? Have you prayed and asked God to help your husband find peace of mind? You see many times we are so concerned about ourselves that we often overlook the obvious. Your husband is having a difficult time expressing himself properly and his anger is making him bitter and cold inside. It's almost like living with an alcoholic.
You need to detach with love. How do you do that? Easy! Simply walk away when he becomes verbally abusive or when he begins to disrespect you. Do not take his verbal abuse – let it slide right off your shoulders – let it go in one ear and out the other. I realize that no sane person can actually do this, but you are going to try and do it, and eventually it will make you feel better doing it. There is no other way. You can't make your husband be nice to you. Only he has the power within himself to change himself.
Why let his misery control how you feel? Walk away from it. And when he asks you why you are not getting angry back or why you are leaving the room, tell him that you are not going to talk to him when he is abusive. You have to take care of your own emotional and spiritual well-being. How can you do that when you are constantly getting trampled on? Rescue yourself from the abuse.
The worse thing you can do is to get verbally abusive back. What does that show? It shows your husband that you have a problem and not him. When you stop letting the abuse bother you, he will actually "see" his own behavior and how rotten he has been behaving. Your husband has to take responsibility for his own behavior. You are responsible for your behavior.
…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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The Functional Alcoholic does not necessarily:
· get drunk every time he or she drinks
· drink a large amount
· have hangovers
· miss a lot of work
· drink during the day, week or month
· drink every day week or month
· look bleary-eyed
· have slurred speech
· get unpleasant or belligerent with other people
· drink in the morning
· become physically abusive
· crave a drink
· show up late for work
· have a hangover
· get a DWI/DUI
· ever look drunk
· have blackouts
...the family usually sees the first symptoms, but don't always know what they mean.
The Functional Alcoholic may have problems with: