The Roots of Violence

Fulfilling Our Purpose

One day as I was taking my morning walk near the lake on campus I was witness to a fight. I stood and watched but made no attempt to break it up. Was I wrong?

The two contenders, by the way, were ducks. I don’t know much about bird behavior, but probably this little fracas was normal, perhaps even necessary. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a fight, although with all the wing-flapping and shoving, it certainly looked like one.

Such things in the natural world may be perfectly normal, but what about conflicts between those who have been made in the image of God?

Downward spiral

The world God destroyed in Noah’s day was “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:5, 11-13). Our own world is growing increasingly volatile.

Domestic violence, school fights, bombings, gang warfare, mass shootings—on and on it goes. These continue to rip and tear at…

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Four Biblical Purposes of Marriage

If the Lord permits, Sara and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary this July. It’s been good—very good!

I’m so blessed to have had Sara in my life all these years. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).

Why marry?

The Bible offers two options: 1) being married or 2) remaining single. Each has its own advantages (1 Corinthians 7). Whether to marry is an individual decision.

Peter, for example, was married; Paul was not. There’s a place for both in God’s kingdom.

But if we choose to marry, we need to understand God’s purposes for the marriage relationship. The following purposes are not necessarily in order of importance.

Purpose #1: Procreation

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD . . .” (Psalm 127:3).

The sexual union as God made it is good (Genesis 1:27-28, 31). He created sex to be enjoyed by a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage.

No other sexual relationship has His blessing: neither premarital sex, nor adultery, nor homosexuality, nor intercourse of any other kind (Hebrews 13:4).

Purpose #2: Companionship

Before God formed Eve, He said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). And He did!

God made male and female different from one another biologically, emotionally, etc. Each brings something unique to the relationship.

Purpose #3: Nurturing Children

Just as each contributes something distinctive to the marital relationship, so they also do for their children. Boys and girls need both a male role model and a female role model.

Although many single moms and dads are wonderful parents, children thrive best when they have two parents who both model and teach God’s word to their children (Proverbs 6:20).

Purpose #4: Avoiding Temptation

In his long discussion of marriage (1 Corinthians 7), Paul distinguishes between those who have a gift for remaining single and those who would do better to marry (vv. 8-9).

“. . . because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband” (v. 2).

A couple should not deprive one another of intercourse, “except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (vv 3-5).

Since God designed intercourse exclusively for marriage, it serves as the only legitimate means of satisfying sexual desires. Therefore frequency of intercourse helps prevent immorality.

God’s Plan

As with every other area of life, when we honor and observe God’s will for marriage, we will be blessed.

God truly wants us to enjoy happy, lasting marriages. And we can.

He’s told us how.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Worried?

 

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I admit I’ve done my share of worrying through the years. You too? But where has it got us?

If worry doesn’t help, what does?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Who said this?

These words are from the apostle Paul, addressed to Christians at Philippi in Macedonia.

But these are not simply the words of a man.

Paul preached and wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 3:15-16).

Therefore it is actually God speaking through His servant Paul.

Since God made us, shouldn’t He know what we need most?

What it says

The passage quoted above prescribes the most effective antidote for worry: prayer.

Instead of fretting, pray. Instead of tossing and turning all night, tell the Father.

But there’s more. Paul says our prayer is to be accompanied “with thanksgiving.”

Gratitude gets the focus off our fears and onto the Source of all our blessings.

This passage tells us:

1) What to avoid (worry).

2) What to do instead (pray with thanksgiving).

3) What God promises (peace instead of anxiety).

This promise is for those who belong to Christ.

Guaranteed to work.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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True Beauty

Recently I saw a picture of a woman I haven’t seen in over 50 years. When she was in her teens, she was quite attractive, but more than five decades have taken their toll on her face.

But that’s OK—provided she is beautiful on the inside.

Beyond externals

Isaac McNally made an interesting point regarding the Worthy Woman of Proverbs 31—it doesn’t say whether she was outwardly beautiful. After describing the excellence of her character, the passage does say, however, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (v. 30).

Addressing Christian wives, Peter writes, “Your adornment must not be merely external . . . but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

As God sees it

Whether one is physically attractive or not, it’s what’s inside that counts. When God sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king over Israel, Samuel was highly impressed when he saw the oldest son Eliab.

But God told him, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

God’s values and ours so often clash.

That’s why we need to be in the Scriptures daily, to re-program our thinking to be in line with His. Then we can appreciate what He counts as true beauty.

From the inside out.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Christian in the Workplace

A dear brother in Christ recently received a very affirmative written evaluation from his supervisor, commending him for his consistently positive attitude at work.

Likely, this supervisor has observed others who gripe, gossip, and create friction among coworkers. In contrast, this brother’s attitude really stands out.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

How else can Christians let their light shine in the workplace?

Be honest.

Employers are looking for people they can trust completely—who never lie, pilfer, or cut corners. Paul says that this kind of work ethic of “showing all good faith . . . will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:9-10).

Work hard and work well.

The Christian who gives 100% on the job not only earns the respect of his superiors, but also serves as a pacesetter for fellow employees.

“Whatever you do,” Paul exhorted Christian slaves, “do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Do more than required.

This is the principle of going the second mile, as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:41).

When my mother-in-law got caught up with her work as a secretary, she’d ask her boss, “Is there anything else I can do?”

A job is so much more than a paycheck.

It’s a golden opportunity to make a positive impression on those who are curious or even skeptical about what being a Christian is all about.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Who am I?

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Now what?

A man who has worked for the same company for 25 years suddenly finds himself out the door, due to downsizing. His self-identity has been tied up in his profession. Starting over at his age is a daunting prospect.

Long before he thought it would happen, a professional athlete’s record-setting career ends abruptly with a debilitating injury. Now that his glory days are over, the very thought of being a “has-been” is unbearable.

A woman whose chief role in life has been nurturing children must now adjust to the empty nest. What is she to do with herself now?

How will we respond?

If we haven’t already experienced it, likely we will. Being forced out of a role that has given us a strong sense of self-worth and identity can be emotionally devastating.

Our comfortable, familiar world has suddenly lost its reference points, and we are adrift.

A healthier perspective

Child-rearing is vital. Careers are necessary. But usually we fill these roles for a few decades at most. Then what?

What we need, both during and after our cherished roles, is an over-arching and undergirding sense of true meaning and purpose transcending and energizing all aspects of our lives—right down to the very last breath.

In Christ we have it, and only in Him!

“I came,” He said, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

When Christ is at the very center of our lives, then everything else falls into place. We do not derive our identity from a role, but from our relationship with Him.

That’s what gives us the ability to adapt, adjust, and even thrive regardless of life’s changes.

If this sounds unattainable, let’s consider this: Many who have tried Christ’s way can testify from personal experience that before they knew Him, they didn’t really know how to live.

But now they do.

And so can we.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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When the Rains Come Down–and In

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Since our backyard slopes downward toward the house, when heavy rains come, the accumulation sometimes invites itself right into our kitchen without even knocking.

The efforts we’ve made so far to divert the rainwater away from our house haven’t worked too well, so next we’ll try an outdoor sump pump.

This week the rains have really been coming down—and in. The first night of flooding I didn’t get a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed periodically to deal with the problem.

The wet/dry vac we borrowed from our neighbor has been a tremendous help in keeping the inflow manageable.

So what helps put situations like this into perspective?

It could be a whole lot worse.

A family we knew in Pennsylvania had floodwaters fill their basement and their first floor, and up into the second floor a foot or more. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rank that a 10—and ours only a 1, if even that.

It’s only temporary.

It helps to remember that 99.9% of the time our house is dry. Floods always subside and the sun will shine again.

If we are faithful in Christ, even the very worst of our troubles in this life cannot pursue us into the next.

It’s an ideal opportunity for growth.

Though the apostle Paul experienced many severe hardships, he could still say,  “. . . we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope . . .” (Romans 5:3-4).

Many believers have discovered from their own experience that hardship can actually turn out to be a very positive thing (Psalm 119:67, 71; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 12:7-10).

We can either let trials embitter us, or we can be open to the lessons they can teach us.

There’s so much to learn!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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