Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Recognizing Abuse In The Christian Marriage


Like so many pastor/counselors before me I was taught in seminary that marriage counseling was going to be the hardest issue to deal with because it often called for the pastor to remain absolutely neutral or lose one member or both in the church. Often times people they knew would side with one or the other and they also would leave if the pastor made the mistake of taking sides. "Why would taking sides even be necessary?" one professor said aloud. "You weren't there when all their quibbles started so how could even know which side to take?"

Surely, marriage counseling would be the undoing of a church so I was taught to listen attentively and make no recommendations but tell the person to look at themselves as "taking one for the gipper (God)." In other words blame yourself and quit looking at the other person's faults! After all you took vows saying "until death do you part."

Unfortunately there is a side to take when the squabbles involve ABUSE. Either verbal, emotional, or physical, abuse is extremely dangerous and can run quickly to murder if the abused or the counselor mishandles the situation. One thing is clear: ABUSE IS REAL AND IT IS IN THE CHURCH! One thing a person who is abused must do is recognize the serious situation you are in and get away from the situation...MOVE OUT! Secretly if you must but do it! Do not immediately agree to meet at the church or counselor at the same time, and make sure you are not followed when you leave. Know where the police stations are and drive there. Some abusers are DANGEROUS and you have to assume if you are being followed that the abuser is dangerous.

The following is from Del Hunderford:


         If I had to look back at the abusive behavior of my husband, several warning signs were there, but I somehow didn't see it as such. I think as women, we want to please our husbands and we are taught to do so-of course he will be quick to tell you that it is our responsibility.  It's natural to get upset with each other. Because we are human, we will treat each other poorly at various times in any relationship. The amount of stress that people are under, in addition life in general, will often have an affect on our behavior towards a spouse.  Every couple fights and has disagreements. It goes with the territory. So, when does it become abuse? I believe the simple answer here is that when one person wants to control the other, the abuse starts. Generally, the abuse is gradual at first and gets more severe as time passes. You will see evidence of this in my own story.  Many couples will experience the "cycle of abuse," which is explained in most books on abuse. As I state in my book, because this was never the case in my marriage, I can't relate to that cycle. Therefore, I have no experience with the emotional aspects of the cycle. I can only imagine that it would make it tougher for a victim to leave the abuser.
        As with many couples, when my husband and I started having communication problems, we went into counseling with our pastor. We also saw the couple that sponsored a "young married's" group in the church. They worked with couples that had been married less than five years. We also saw my husband's best friend, who was a substance abuse counselor. He had a degree in counseling so we thought that his counsel would be very helpful, and much of it was.
        In CHRISTIAN counseling, I believe the focus may be different than non-Christian counseling. Because Christian couples are encouraged to work together, counselors make sure each person is doing his/her part. This can't be accomplished if one spouse is complaining about the behavior of the other. I am guessing this because of how things were done in my own marriage counseling experience, outside the church setting. My husband and I went to a secular counselor after we separated in hopes of finding a way to get back together. We did this at the request of our pastor.
     
    Here are some things that I noticed in our counseling sessions:
Counselors took us at our word. If we told them something, they had no choice but to believe what was said. Since none of the counselors could see what was going on in our home, they could only go by what we said to them.
We often went into counseling sessions with assignments that were to be prepared for the specific session. I always had the assignments done, and my husband didn't.  I wish our counselors would have sent us home. To me, this showed my husband that the assignments weren't that big of a deal.
It was hard for me to disagree with my husband during counseling sessions. I struggled with knowing what to say and how to say it so it didn't appear that I was complaining. My husband had no problems disagreeing with me, although he had a way of doing it in counseling so that it didn't look like he was attacking me.
All of the counselors that we saw (in the church setting) wanted us to talk about our OWN issues instead of what our spouse was doing to upset us. The focus in counseling sessions was always how to work things through as a couple.
During individual counseling, we were encouraged to do what we could to support the spouse. Yes, I talked about my frustrations, but the focus was on what I could do to work through those frustrations. Since I couldn't change my husband's behavior, I had to focus on my reactions to his behaviors.
None of my counselors ever told me to get a divorce, even at the point where it because obvious there were problems beyond normal marital issues. I was told that when "enough was enough," I'd know it. This always left the ball in my court for me to "own" my decision.
In secular marriage counseling, the job of our marriage counselor was to help with communicatation. By opening up with each other, sharing hurt feelings and what caused those hurt feelings, we were supposed to see how our individual actions had hurt our spouse . We were then encouraged to learn how to see the needs of each other, and then help meet those needs.  From my observations, the marriage counselor shows couples how to "work out" and "through" the difficulties in the marriage.
In my specific case, I was surprised that our marriage counselor was unable to see the abuse. By the time we quit marriage counseling, I'd been seeing a domestic violence specialist for about a month. It was the domestic violence counselor, without her knowledge, that helped me see the marriage counseling wasn't working. Although I can't put my finger on it right now, I knew that how I felt when walking out of the marriage counselors office, was not right. I believe people should never leave a counseling session feeling worse than when they walked in. I felt belittled and attacked after every marriage counseling session. It took all that was within me to walk back into her office each time.
        Now, if you've had some counseling with anyone specializing in abuse, you may recognize that normal marriage counseling won't work. For MOST marriages that are dealing with basic communication issues, not involving control, counseling in the above format is fine. Because mankind is inherently selfish, it's easy to want our own way and blame problems on the spouse. I would say that the majority of church-going-married-couples struggle with communication and deferring to a spouse like all couples. Just because a couple calls themselves Christians, doesn't mean they will not have the same issues as everyone else. The Character of God takes time to build. Therefore, we will struggle with selfishness along the way. Somehow, it appears that people think because they are Christians, everything will be easier. This is so untrue. The New Testament refers to young Christians as "babies" and that as we grow, we become more mature. As we mature, we no longer need the "milk" of the Word, but the "meat" of the Word.  (I Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 5:12 to get you started.) We can only expect to deal with marriage the way God intended it to be based on our level of maturity as a Christian.
        I believe that many of the problems suffered in an abusive marriage can be seen earlier if counselors look past the obvious and try to help determine what the root of the problem is. This can be tough because, again, it's hard to get beyond what the "counseled" is saying at that given time. In most cases, a counselor will see their client very little outside of the session. In public, people tend to show their best side, especially if they have something to hide. This is true in churches too. When in a group setting, an abuser knows how to "look good" to those around him/her. They are truly "masters of disguise." So then, how does a counselor learn to see beyond that mask? From my own experiences, I would like to suggest the following need to be considered:

Body language.  In a Christian marriage, if the wife walks behind the husband instead of beside him, this is a warning sign. If you watch women of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or other countries where the husband has complete control over the wife, you will notice that the woman always walks behind the man. Women are considered "property" to a man in certain religions. Women have no voice in these relationships. There are many other forms of body language used by abusers. Watch how the couple sits together. Does the husband turn his body away from the wife?  How affectionate are they in public? If they do appear to be affectionate, look into the woman's eyes. How is she responding to that affection?  The eyes are truly the window to the soul. Watch facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact of the couple. Sometimes, I see abusers make very little eye contact with the victim EXCEPT WHEN CONDEMNING OR DEMANDING!  They appear to be looking "past" instead of directly into the eyes of whom they are talking with.

Tone of voice. In any given conversation, the tone of voice is a major key. A good counselor will look past the actual words being said and pay attention to the tone of voice used by both husband and wife.  How does he speak with her? Is there fear or reservation in her voice? Does it appear that maybe she doesn't know how to respond? Does she not have answers at all? In my situation, my facial expression was often the exact opposite of what it should have been. The reason for this was simple. I didn't want to give off the impression that what was being said was either hurtful or that it bothered me. Giving this away would have made life at home worse. In other words, my tone of voice didn't match my facial expression. Counselors didn't pick up on this, although one did question me about it. I was smiling when my husband was sharing his hurt about something I'd done. She asked why. I couldn't give her an answer.

Inability to provide logical answers.  When a counselor asks a spouse specific questions about situations; how he/she feels, or how to help resolve an issue, and the counselor is met with an "I don't know" answer, this is an indicator something's amiss. In a counseling session as a couple, the victim will rarely reveal any "secrets" to a counselor. Even during individual counseling, it will take prying to get the information out. The counselor must know the right questions to ask.

Know the signs of abuse.  In talking with a woman who works with those suffering abuse at the hands of a Christian man, I learned that she'd been married to an associate pastor. Because she'd worked with domestic violence agencies prior to being married, she began to recognize the signs of abuse and was only in the marriage a short time. Every member of the clergy needs an education in the signs of abuse.

Relationship with other people.  Determine the history of relationships with others, from the beginning of the marriage to the point of counseling.  Do they still have the same relationships now? If not, why? Are they seeing less people now than they did earlier in the marriage? The husband may have kept his relationships the same, but in many cases, the wife begins to lose close relationships with family and her friends. How often does she see her family and friends? The abuser almost always isolates the victim to some extent. These are not questions I'd ask in couples counseling. The wife of an abusive husband will not answer properly and will pay the price later for giving an answer that could give away any secrets.

Expectation of submission.  If the husband EXPECTS the wife to submit, then he's being spiritually abusive. He's demanding that her will be given over to him. If he's using scripture to "keep her in line," he's wanting control over her. Not only is this unscriptural, but it's abusive as well. A good counselor should be able to determine if this is happening in a private session. Again, I would not ask these types of questions in couples counseling. The abuser will almost demand unreasonable sex in order to control their mate and satisfy an abnormal desire. In a "Christian marriage" the only scriptures they seem to know are the ones that benefit their cause...however they do not truly understand that they are also to be in submission to God and their mate. It works both ways.

Tirades. It is not uncommon once an abuser recognizes you will take your stand against violence to tirade incessantly until you capitulate and admit they are right and you are wrong. After all, they are control-freaks and have to control you to be happy or they will make you pay in other ways. If the spouse in a marriage talks about the tirades you can almost bet there has been violence in the past. Emotional abuse is still ABUSE!

Determine mental stability.  I think this is a big one. If you or a counselor suspect that something doesn't "seem quite right" with your husband, maybe something really isn't! I could never understand why my ex-husband truly believed there was never a need to apologize. He ALWAYS thought he was right, even when it seemed obvious that he wasn't. Todd (the "book name" for my ex-husband) not once during our entire marriage ever said he was sorry for anything. There was no "kiss and makeup" whenever he was angry with me. Flat out... he was never wrong. This behavior is not normal. Although I can't prove anything, I would suspect by what I've read that Todd has some mental issues. I never felt that Todd had a conscience, which scared me at times. Certain "disorders" lend themselves to the inability to change or know the difference between right and wrong.

Finances. The abuser controls the money and ensures that the other party must feel guilt at using anymore than designated to be spent. Often they will barter for sex or favors if they must spend unplanned money on the individual they are married to. They will lavish upon themselves but their partner will pay the price for stepping over the line.

Yes, ABUSE IN SO-CALLED CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES EXIST! These are just a few of the "behaviors" I'd suggest looking for to counselors. This article will continue to expand as I talk with more people and garnish more information.  I think it's very difficult, especially in Christian homes, to determine if verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse are present. If you are a Christian woman reading this and suspect that you're in an abusive marriage, contact an agency that specializes in abuse for Christian women. There are several listed under the "helpful links" page. They can direct you to counselors in your area that can assist. I would only go to your pastor if you're in a church that allows women in leadership. If not, more than likely, your pastor will side with your husband.

Much taken from: Recognizing Abuse in a Christian Marriage
based on my personal experience... (updated July, 2010)
by Del Hungerford
What is available on this website? Below is a list of questions asked by many Christian women in abusive marriages that are addressed throughout this website:

Del brings a very biblical approach to the question of what to do in a marriage where Christ is supposed to be the head but in fact is not. I highly recommend an abused person read about divorce because of abuse. More times than not verbal and emotional abuse have far more reaching devastation than physical violence. But no abuse of any kind is to be tolerated in a marriage, Christian or not! Get out and get help immediately. YOU are not a someone's punching bag physically or verbally. Don't tolerate it EVER!

See you next blog,
Ted

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Presidential Blunder Based On A Lack of Knowledge

In talking to people about the Christian Faith, especially Muslim friends, I often hear Barack Obama's words quoted back to me about the crusades. Please understand he is not a theologian or historian but has heard the lies he had repeated to him over and over. This correction by Dr. Ravi Zacharias should help understand where Mr. Obama blundered...

President Barack Obama’s address at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2015 has reverberated through the corridors of the world and provoked shock and dismay in numerous quarters. Even a professor at the University of London commented on his shallow understanding of the Crusades. I hesitated to write anything on the subject because it would drag me into politics or into a sobering critique of Islam. I am not sure that at a time like this either distraction would be wise, so let me keep it to the minimum.
For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this. ‎I wasn’t at this one but have heard the speech often enough to marvel at the motivation for such thoughts. President Obama basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ. Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear to feed their lunacy.  ‎In the Middle East, history never dies and words carry the weight of revenge.
There is so much I would love to say in response but shall refrain. The President obviously does not understand the primary sources of either faith for him to make such a tendentious parallel. The predominant delight in his remarks would be in the Muslim world and the irreligious. The next day Geraldo Rivera, opining favorably, made the oft repeated lie that more people have been killed in the name of God than in any other cause. Try telling that to the Chinese and the Russians and the Cambodians and the victims of the Holocaust! ‎Such intellectual ignorance gains the microphone with pitiable privilege. If a thinking person doesn’t know the difference between the logical outworkings of a philosophy and the illogical ones, to say nothing of the untruth perpetrated, then knowledge has been sacrificed at the altar of prejudice.
But let me get to the President’s final statement, after he had wandered off into erroneous territory. That final remark was true. He said, “It is sin that leads us to distort reality.” He was right. In fact he embodied it in his talk. But there is good news for the President. At least in the Christian message forgiveness is offered for sin. In Islam it isn’t. You must earn it. May I dare suggest that if Christians had been burning Muslims and be-heading them, he would have never dared to go to Saudi Arabia and tell them to get off their high horse. He unwittingly paid a compliment to those who preach grace and forgiveness. That is the dominant theme of the Gospel. That is why we sit in courtesy listening to the distortion of truth, the abuse of a privilege, and the wrong-headedness of a message.
I cannot recall when I have heard such inappropriate words at so important an occasion, in such a time of crisis. The world is burning with fear and apprehension. We need a message that will inspire and encourage and redeem. Ironically, two years ago when Dr. Ben Carson spoke and made some comments about our medical plan and the tax system, the White House demanded an apology from him for straying into controversial terrain, because it felt his comments showed disrespect for the President.
The 2015 National Prayer Breakfast speech was a blunder in thought. But there was a silver lining. In the end, President Obama blundered into the truth. Sin distorts… and only Jesus Christ restores the truth. Christ will ever rise up to outlive His pallbearers. Even presidents will have to get off their high horses then and recognize the Lord of life and hope and peace. There will be no speech making then. Only a prayer of surrender… which is what the National Prayer Breakfast was meant to be in the first place.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), a global ministry focused on evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training, and humanitarian support. An itinerant speaker for 42 years, Zacharias is presently Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Wycliffe Hall and his weekly radio program, “Let My People Think,” airs on over 2,000 outlets worldwide. Dr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children and reside in Atlanta.  More information is at www.rzim.org.
In Christ,
Ted
Interesting and accurate letter to President Obama:  http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/political-and-social-issues/dear-mr-president.html

Monday, October 23, 2017

Thriving in Chaos-Navigating Life's Storms

We have heard a lot about “Fake News” lately and to a certain degree most news is fake news. Why would I say that? Because of political and human bias. It used to be that news was simply reporting facts about what occurred but eventually what crept in because of political bias, human bias, and what is called “packaging news” the news became more of a news writers perspective. Can it be trusted...hardly! We are left to read between the lines and yet our own political bias governs how we disseminate that information. What does that have to do with Navigating Through Life’s Storms, one would ask?

When we as Christians view information we need to do it through the lens of God’s word? What has the Bible told us concerning chaos in the world and storm tossed lives. You see, God is very comfortable in the midst of storms because He sees the beginning and the end in every life. He has a plan and it’s up to us to examine His word and decide how to best use it to get through the chaos. His word is a bias in that God has a perspective on how to view what we read and how we accept, deny, or communicate what we read. As non-Christians reading Christian information we have to decide if what we are reading is something we really need in order to thrive and survive in a world that denies the Bible as relevant to today.

In looking historically at news; "news" has been new information considered to have sufficient importance to justify an announcement to the citizens. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that a news program should only happen when a newsworthy event happens.

It could also be argued that the program should only last as long as necessary to tell what happened.

But, when a news program is designed, scheduled, formatted and funded, it takes on a life of its own. It must fill up its packaged, scripted and dollar-driven slot. Advertisers are not interested in supporting an occasional program of uncertain length.

Yes, of course, angles and agenda take over. Humans, with their own bag of biases, must decide what information meets the standard of "sufficient importance." That leads to the invention of news.

For example, in his Washington Post column,1 Eugene Robinson chronicled how the disappearances or deaths of young, pretty white women – like Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, Chandra Levy, the "runaway bride," etc. – drive many news programs.

Perhaps it is coincidental that young white women are an advertiser-favored demographic.

And, the stories are deeply tragic. We all hurt for the loves ones who wait or grieve. Nevertheless, the fact that we know these stories in such depth is an extreme distortion of the justification for news. How do any of those stories constitute information "of sufficient importance to justify an announcement to citizens?"

Do you believe in "The Bermuda Triangle?"

Several years ago, a PBS program offered a plausible and persuasive resolution of the Bermuda Triangle mystery: It doesn't exist.

Sure, weird things happen in that theoretical triangle between Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. Planes and ships have certainly disappeared in very mysterious circumstances.

But, such things happen in all waters. In fact, as the program illustrated, imposing the same "triangle" all over the oceans of the world reveals about the same number of strange things everywhere.

Lloyds of London, the US Coast Guard and other maritime data sources do not see any unique patterns at all in the Bermuda Triangle.

So, why do we believe it?

Because, over the past 50 years, writers and filmmakers have woven the facts about the triangle into very compelling narratives; proving that if you arrange any set of facts into certain patterns, story lines will always emerge.

Once people accept that story line, every new incident helps to build it stronger. So, now, when any plane or yacht goes down in (or remotely near) that area, people jerk into a confirmation of the myth.

Perhaps we should be more skeptical of the news and myths that permeate our daily lives. OK, now back to Navigating Life’s Storms:

Who is helping you navigate the storm?


The Bible tells the story of a horrific storm of events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Babies were slaughtered all across the land as Herod sought to eradicate any challengers to his reign.

The storm had unique fury for the wise men. They had traveled a great distance in order to worship Jesus as the new king of the Jews. Furthermore, after a meeting with King Herod, they left with a specific command from him.

Caught in that very treacherous storm, the voice of God warned all of the men of the dire consequences and directed them into a plan of action.

In fact, the Bible tells many stories of people caught in storms – political, financial, military and meteorological – who were directed into specific actions that saved their own and many other lives.

Is it possible that we would all "hear" the voice of God more quickly and clearly if we didn't make Him compete with Katie Couric, Chris Matthews, or Bill O'Reilly? Today we also have to view what we hear or think we know from the biased mouths of late night talk show hosts. Why does what God wants have to be disseminated by what we understand truth to be from these as a source?

Let me ask that a different way...

What if a stranger sat down at your table in Starbucks and began giving you advice about an important financial matter? Would it be appropriate to ask about his personal success, morality, family relationships and other measurements of life?

Your intelligence and prudence would require some kind of personal relationship and foundation of trust before receiving advice from a stranger.

Yet, once we discover someone we are in agreement with in our way of thinking we are quick to invite unknown people and agencies into our living rooms to plant advice, philosophical positions and world views in our minds. This is true of Christian and non-Christian people.

Faith in the midst of storms


Those voices often undermine our ability to navigate storms. Why? Because they sow seeds of doubt.

Pessimism is one of the most dominant and pounding attitudes of news agencies and reporters. That attitude goes to the traditional motives for news: it is almost always "bad." Crises, tragedies or urgencies represent the conventional criteria for information "of sufficient importance to justify an announcement to citizens."

That inherent bias tilts the entire organization toward an expectation of bad stuff coming down. It is not reasonable to expect a news gathering operation to announce hope or persuade people to have confidence.

Nor is it reasonable to consider them as reliable navigation aides.

But, there is a Voice we can trust to lead us through the storm.

God has always preserved – even prospered – His people in the midst of adversity. The 91st Psalm is a great anthem of protection in the midst of death and destruction. Thousands and ten thousands may fall around, but "the plague will not come near your tent" (Psalms 91: 10).

In the previous article, I wrote, "God is very comfortable in what we define as ‘chaos.'" Obviously, He is very comfortable in storms. After all, storms are a very natural part of His creation. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, thunderstorms and other weather phenomena all perform essential services.

Jesus actually spoke to storms. And, they obeyed Him.

Would you rather listen to a financial reporter on MSNBC, CNN, CNBC or The Voice of the One Who created and directs – and walks through – storms?

Do you need continuous doses of doubt and despair as you navigate the storm?

Or, would your posture and efforts in the midst of a storm be more victorious if you are directed by the One who creates and manages storms?

See you next blog,

Ted


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Thriving in Chaos

I was reading an article by Ed Chinn of Focus On The Family. Why? Because the storms of life are raging in my life right now. I don't want to just survive but instead I want to thrive in the middle of the worst of it. There are many things that are my fault in this and a few things that are not. Charles Stanley preached today about Down But Not Out...I needed to hear it.

I started today remembering that God never promised in His Word that we would go through life without trials. Jesus, himself said you will have tribulation in this world! GULP!!! But Lord I wanted the Rose Garden and He said there are thorns in the rose garden but there is also beauty!  I want you to know I am writing this along with Ed Chinn to myself as well. I have not come out the other side of this storm. I just entered the storm a few months back, but I am learning about exercising my faith in God's word. We are all on a journey no less treacherous than explorers in uncharted territory. How well we do depends on what guidelines we trust. This will be a four-part series.

If you have never been sailing it is something everyone should experience, but try it in a boat with no motor just sails and rudder. You will learn a lot about life...

In his book, The Millennium Matrix (Jossey-Bass, 2004), futurist Rex Miller suggests that most of us – individuals, families, churches and businesses – are moving into the turbulent and chaotic waters of the North Atlantic.

But, we're doing so in vessels designed for the balmy Caribbean.

So, are you one of the people, dozing on the deck of a schooner, dressed for mild and warm Bahamian breezes? The rhythms of Jamaica pulse through your iPod wires into your ear canals. The worries and intrusions of real life are so far away.

But, later…a slight chill touches your skin. The canvas sails begin popping loudly; the wind is rising. And the graceful sailing craft seems to be bouncing on a hard surface. As you roll over and slowly open your eyes, you see angry white caps sharply defined against a gray gun barrel-steel sky.

Apparently, we are not in the Caribbean anymore.

Our Times Are in His Hands


Obviously, we all prefer the tranquility and prosperity of "good times." Your investment portfolio is rising, your home value is soaring, you pay cash for most things, dine in the best restaurants and drive a new car.

Life is good.

But, God orders and administrates life on this planet with a full and varied palette of times and seasons. The winter blizzards do something which the warm summer wind cannot. Earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes contribute unique and essential factors to life. And the economies of earth pass through normal and crucial cycles.

In his famous sermon on Mars Hill, the apostle Paul told his audience that God, "made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation…" (Acts 17:26 NASB)

Yet, we are all tempted to believe that deadly tsunamis, bone-chilling temperatures or collapsing stock markets mean things are out of control. That is simply not true.

Rather, those dynamics and events are evidence that One is in control.

That's why David wrote, "I trust in You, O Lord…my times are in Your hand." (Psalm 31: 14-15 NKJV)

The real question is "Do we trust God?" Since He has established the boundaries and times and seasons of life, do we trust His ability to administrate life on His own planet? Do we trust Him to bring the appropriate season to our life?

Is Chaos Beautiful?


In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon famously observed, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted…He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Some Bible translations change "beautiful" to "appropriate." Everything is appropriate in its own time.

So, do we live in a beautiful time? Is it possible that home foreclosures, job losses, bankruptcies, and stock market crashes are "appropriate" for certain seasons?

Is the North Atlantic in January any less a part of God's creation than the Caribbean in August? Does God see one as "good" and the other as "bad?" Could it possibly be true that both seas are beautiful and appropriate? Do both contribute to the ecology of God's earth?

God is very comfortable in what we define as "chaos." When most of us use that term we are simply describing what we cannot control.

Do we see the beauty of all His creative design and power? Or, do we tend to view the majesty of God's creation from the bunker of our own creature comforts? You know; rain on our wedding day is bad. A decline in property value means that God must be either weak or distracted. A weather-grounded flight that prevents us from getting to a Las Vegas weekend is a terrible crisis.

Be Not Troubled


I once knew a man who took long walks every day. When asked about inclement weather, he replied, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing."

Adaptability is the real issue. How do we adapt to – and navigate through – the conditions which God alone created and controls?

Can we thrive in His chaos?

Jesus' disciples once asked Him about troubling and turbulent times. In His reply, He spoke of global chaos – wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilences. But, he also said, "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass…" Matthew 24: 6 – 7 NKJV.

Since Jesus said that these things "must" come, then surely He doesn't intend to change them. However chaotic they may seem to us, they are essential to His administration of life on earth.

So, the application of convulsive phenomena – meteorological, geologic, political, economic – is His business.

Remaining untroubled is the only part which He gave to us!

In this Thriving in Chaos series, we will examine many features of the current economic and political crises and how we can navigate through – and remain untroubled in the midst of – uncertainty.

We will look at numerous methods and attitudes which are essential to navigating through storms, while keeping the turbulent waters of the storm out of our own boat. The next part of this involves navigating through a storm because in a sailboat, unless you can keep to your course in a storm you could end up on the rocks of a reef and learn about another kind of turbulent time-swimming with sharks! 

Next up: Navigating-Setting Your Course In The Storm

Enjoy, 
Ted

(Ed Chinn is a very popular freelance writer in Texas and has written many great articles on the Christian walk. He currently writes for Focus on Family and independent articles. I highly recommend reading Ed's work.)



Thursday, September 28, 2017

3 BIG LIES OF PORN!

 I'd love to say I wrote this...but I didn't! It's a piece by Dr James Dobson and as a former porno junkie I can tell you IT IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY! SO PAY ATTENTION!

"I started to write an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for...It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he's going to look at you."   
- Jennifer Lawrence (actress)

I will be the first person to admit that men, in general, are wired differently than women when it comes to visual stimuli regarding the opposite sex (yet, recent statistics have shown that this is a problem for women as well). Having been involved in family ministry for over 10 years, I have walked alongside many men struggling with some form of pornography. I can count on one hand the men that I’ve known that truly are not tempted and don’t struggle with the unabashed access we now have to online nudity. In this sense, it is true that most men, and this includes Christian men, are tempted to look at pornography when it is literally one click away. Yet, to say that men need or must pursue porn to function in life is just a flat out lie. By God’s grace, Ms. Lawrence’s quote is way off base, and men can say “no” to porn and the lies that surround it.

Pornography’s 3 Big Lies:

1. “It doesn’t hurt anyone.”
2. “God wired me this way. So it's okay.”
3. “It creates intimacy within our marriage.”
The Truth:

1. Pornography hurts everyone.


Our sins always impact our relationships, first vertically with God and then horizontally with others. Pornography is no different, and given its intimate nature can cause even greater harm. When we choose porn over our spouse we devalue them and are essentially saying, “You’re not good enough. I need someone else to fulfill me.” Can you imagine the hurt this inflicts upon our spouse when we continually choose porn over them?Another sobering thought is that the young woman we are looking at is someone’s daughter and very possibly the wife of another man.  
2. Yes, God hard-coded sexual desires within both men and women. Yet, He designed the fulfillment of these desires to be bound within the covenantal boundaries of a marital relationship.
The sexual act that is part of the covenant of marriage reflects the reality of this most personal-oneness relationship. The physical act of sexual union also speaks to the passionate bond that a man and woman are designed to share. Within this most sacred God-made covenant, marital intimacy takes on a meaning of pure oneness. In this sense, it is absolutely wonderful for a man to desire his wife and a woman to desire her husband. The book of the Song of Solomon elaborates in great detail the fervent love that a man and woman can share within their marriage. God wants us to desire and fulfill sexual intimacy with our spouses. 
The beauty of the marital covenant, like other God-given covenants is this: Within the boundaries of this union, i.e. holding fast to Christ, there is both total provision and complete protection. To go outside of the marriage relationship to seek sexual pleasure, in any form, i.e. visually, emotionally and/or physically is inviting the enemy to have his way.

Just an added note...Jesus' own words state that if you are a married man/woman and look upon another woman/man with lust you have committed an act of adultery-not my words...His. He was talking about fantasizing being in a sexual way with her.  Pornography is exactly that. The marital covenant is exclusive, forsaking all others to be exclusively with the spouse you chose.

3. Sexual sins like pornography destroy families.

While some couples may experience greater sexual satisfaction when involving pornography within their marriage, it will overtime kill their marriage. Porn will devastate true intimacy. There is no shade of grey when it comes to porn. There is a simple truth that is universal in its application: Anything that comes between God and me (the vertical) will cause separation in my marriage (the horizontal). As shared before, we never sin on an island. Sadly, couples that turn to pornography for greater “intimacy” within their marriages are doing just the opposite.  It also has ramifications for our children. Beyond sad is the fact that the average age now for a child to view pornography is 11 years old (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding). I’ve personally met dozens of adult men and women that are still recovering from their father’s legacy of porn and/or their exposure to it because of their father.  
There are a few verses that God used to convict me in this area:


Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Hebrews 13:4

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[e] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:15-19

While porn may give us a temporary sexual “high,” it will always damage our most intimate relationships with God, our spouses and our children.  Ms. Lawrence was correct that most men are wired in a way to desire intimacy with women that may lead a man down the path of pornography (a lot of women are as well). However, God also wired man with the ability to choose which path he will take.  This God-given yearning for sexual intimacy was designed to exist and thrive within a oneness relationship with our wives. When it comes right down to it, our sexual desires as men and women are more about our spouses (putting their needs before our own), creating children, the marriage covenant and the glory of God than they are about us. 

If you've experienced some defeats over the years around this issue, don't lose hope. Almost every man alive has taken a hit when it comes to pornography. We holdfast to God's promise, that if we repent and seek forgiveness, His grace and mercy awaits us. Men, make the resolution, from here on out, to only have eyes for your wives. I encourage our wives to make the same resolution toward their husbands (see the Resolved Eyes Blog). By God's grace, pornography's lies will not be a part of the heritage we leave our children. Rather, our legacy, while imperfect, will be a relentless pursuit to uphold the sacred honor of our marriages.


Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

Ephesians 5:25-30
By Dr. James Dobson

Enjoy,
Ted

Friday, August 4, 2017

Broken Together

I've been accused of being anti-marriage. I've even been told that I am a destroyer of Christian values because I advocate separation or divorce from Narcissists. It's also true I've had failed marriages but I wasn't the only failure in the marriage. However that does not excuse my portion to do all I could to save the marriage. I don't know how much was my portion in every case of failing but it doesn't matter now. The fact is a marriage that we swore an oath to God to protect is now ended. You see, we all carry baggage into our relationships and we tend to view everything about that relationship through the opaqueness of the garbage we carry. We can become almost myopic in the way we view relationships if we allow ourselves the luxury of being a judge of the other. However, being a judge requires us to judge ourselves through God's lens as well so that we are no longer being hypocritical. We have to stand on common ground before anything can ever be resolved.
I am still not advocating staying with your angry and childish Narcissist. You can try a trial separation and get counseling but the only way the counseling will work is if the other party is willing to humble themselves to work it through and admit their wrong-doing as well. It takes two to make a marriage work but it only takes one to destroy it. You could have the patience of Job and love of Jesus in your heart and still lose a marriage, especially if you are dealing with a myopic Narcissist who will only see themselves as being the only good thing in the marriage. The other way you can lose a marriage is by lying to yourself and blaming the other person for everything that is wrong within that marriage. You can refuse to put yourself on level ground and have an honest dialogue. People, the one impossible situation is that you cannot save a marriage with a narcissistic individual bent on making your life miserable just so they feel better about themselves, but you can save a marriage if you are both willing to start with the premise that we are both BROKEN and in need of God's help to make a relationship workable.
Now to those of you who have a marriage that is coming apart not because of narcissistic tendencies, but because we battle the enemy of our soul on three fronts, the world, the flesh and the devil then I would say there can be hope for a better marriage. It takes two words to make this union that is separating really work, that is realizing that we are both "BROKEN TOGETHER." Admitting we are all broken vessels because of traumatic events or frequent bad dialogue spoken unwisely to us in our past. You see by putting ourselves on equal ground there is room for dialogue...but we have to stay honest in that dialogue and our view of ourselves. I suggest you read these words and listen to this song to see how honestly you view your own failures to work through the problems of your marriage and then humbly as God to show you how to put it all back together. You may not save your marriage but you will understand just WHO you really trust when everything goes awry. I am hopeful that those of you, and me in particular, can be open to honest dialogue to see the wholeness that comes from a life poured out for your spouse and your spouse returning that openness in the same manner. 
Do we honestly want to get well emotionally, spiritually, and have our relationships be all they can be? Find common ground and be honest with ourselves by realizing that we are BROKEN TOGETHER. God will give us more than we can bear...that is the truth! No where in the Bible do find the words that God will NOT give us more than we can bear...why? Because it is then that we really reach out and say to our God I can't do this alone. He will come alongside and help us with the most difficult things in life if we open ourselves to admitting we are broken and we have reached the end of our rope.
What do you think about when you look at me
I know we're not the fairytale you dreamed we'd be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we've drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night?

It's gonna take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us?

The only way we'll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I'm praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we won't give up the fight

It's gonna take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us?

The only way we'll last forever is broken together

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us?

The only way we'll last forever is broken together
Hear it here:
https://youtu.be/ZAAvPDgKf30
See you next blog,
Ted



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Only Jesus Can Give You Spiritual Sight!

The following opening is from Pastor Stephen Cole, pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church, in Crestline, CA. Stephen is a graduate Dallas Theological Seminary-so I already admire his persistence and great sermonizing. A good pastor has a difficult row to hoe. If you are really, a good pastor not everyone in your church is going to like what you have to say! Why? Because even in our churches the spiritually blind abound. This is a long blog so before you start prepare yourself to read the whole blog if you are really interested in having spiritual sight to guide you through life. 

We’ve all heard “good news, bad news” jokes. Here are a couple aimed at me as a pastor (from cybersalt.org):

Good News: The Women’s Guild voted to send you a get-well card.

Bad News: The vote passed 31-30.

Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.

Bad News: You were on vacation.

Luke 9 gives us good news and bad news, but it’s not a joke. It’s deadly serious! The best possible news is: Jesus! The worst possible news is: Jesus! For many, Jesus is good news because He opens their blind eyes and gives them eternal life. For many others, Jesus is bad news because they reject His gift of sight and they will face eternal judgment (see 1 Pet. 2:6-8 for the same truth).

In other words, Jesus always divides people into one of two camps: Those who believe in Him for salvation receive eternal life; those who reject Him are hardened in unbelief and face eventual eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46). There is no third category. So, be very careful how you respond to Jesus!

We come to the conclusion of the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. As we’ve seen, this miracle, which Jesus performed on the Sabbath, caused a division among the Pharisees: Some said (9:16), “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others argued, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” The prevailing group were those that contended that Jesus was not from God, who in a few months succeeded in crucifying Him. They couldn’t refute the reasoning of the blind man, so they threw him out of the temple (9:34). Our text picks up the story when Jesus found the rejected man and asked him a crucial question, bringing him to solid faith. The story concludes by contrasting the blind man’s faith with the hard hearts of the unbelieving Pharisees. The lesson is:

Jesus came to give sight to the spiritually blind, but also to bring those who think they see without Him to judgment.

To quote Jesus (9:39), “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 


1. The blind see: Jesus came to give sight to the spiritually blind (9:35-38).

Jesus heard that the Jewish leaders had kicked this man out of the temple, which was a serious matter in that society. His neighbors would have shunned him out of fear of having the religious police target them. Although now the man was physically able to work for the first time in his life, no one would hire a man who had been excommunicated by the religious authorities. Probably many in the marketplace would also refuse to do business with such an outcast. But it was at this time, perhaps as he was standing in bewilderment outside the temple precincts, that Jesus found him and asked him the most important question in the world (9:35), “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (The KJV and NJKV read, “Son of God”; but “Son of Man” is almost certainly the original text.) These verses contain five important lessons:

A. Jesus takes the initiative by seeking those who are blind.

“Finding him” (9:35) implies that Jesus was looking for him. Jesus said (Luke 19:10), “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The religious crowd had rejected this poor man. He was an outcast from society. But at that very moment, Jesus went looking for him and brought him to solid faith by asking, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The former blind man asked (9:36), “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” (The same Greek word may be translated either “sir” or “Lord,” depending on the context. In 9:36, the blind man does not yet know Jesus as Lord, so it should be translated, “sir.” In 9:38, he recognizes Jesus as the Lord who opened his eyes, so there it should be translated, “Lord.”). Jesus’ reply must have thrilled his soul (9:37): “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” The man had not yet seen very many people, but now he saw Jesus and he recognized his voice as that of the man who had healed him. And so he instantly believed in Jesus.

The Bible repeatedly stresses that if you believe in Jesus, it’s not because you came up with the idea first and went looking for Him. Rather, God chose you in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). He sought you when you were dead in your trespasses and sins and granted saving faith to you as His gracious gift (Eph. 2:1-9). Thus our salvation is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6). If you chose Him by your own free will, then you can share the glory for your salvation. But if He chose you apart from anything meritorious in you, then He gets all the glory (see 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

B. Jesus alone has the power to open blind eyes.

Opening blind eyes is a God-thing (Ps. 146:8). As the former blind man pointed out to the Pharisees (John 9:32-33), “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” As Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees at the end of this chapter shows, this miracle was also a parable about salvation. Just as opening the eyes of one born blind is something that only God can do, so saving a soul is something that only God can do. It takes His mighty power to impart new life to those who are spiritually dead in their sins.

While (as we’ll see in a moment) to be saved, sinners must believe in Jesus, they cannot believe simply by exercising their own will power. As John 1:12-13 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Or, to use the blindness and light metaphor (2 Cor. 4:4, 6), Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Then, how can we gain spiritual sight? Paul continues, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Just as God’s power spoke light into existence, so His power opens blind eyes when He saves a soul.

C. To move from spiritual blindness to sight, admit that you’re blind.

Of course, the man who was born blind had no problem admitting that he could not see. That was obvious. But the proud Pharisees thought that they were the only ones in Israel with spiritual sight. They imply this when they railed against the former blind man (9:34), “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they imply it in their sarcastic question to Jesus (9:40), “We are not blind too, are we?” But Jesus replied (9:41), “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” In other words, if they would have admitted their blindness, Jesus would have healed them by forgiving their sins. But since they insisted that they could see, they remained in their sins.

One of the main things that keeps people from gaining spiritual sight is that they refuse to admit that they’re blind. They think that they’re good enough to qualify for heaven. They may admit that they need a little boost from God. But they minimize their sins. They won’t admit that they’re totally blind and that they don’t just need bifocals; they need sight! As the old hymn, “Rock of Ages,” put it:

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.

So, to move from spiritual blindness to sight, admit that you’re blind.

D. To move from spiritual blindness to sight, believe in Jesus for who He is.

Jesus’ question to this formerly blind man is the most important question you can ever answer: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” You must answer that question, either now or at the judgment, when it will be too late. Your eternal destiny hinges on answering that question rightly: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” To answer it rightly, answer these three questions:

1) WHO IS THE SON OF MAN?

The former blind man asked Jesus (9:36), “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” That question parallels Jesus’ question to the twelve (Matt. 16:15), “Who do you say that I am?” It’s the most important question in all of life to answer correctly. Faith is only as good as its object. If you believe in a false Jesus, you cannot be saved, any more than if you believed in an idol. So this question is crucial so that you believe in Jesus for who He is.

The title “Son of Man” is used over 80 times in the Gospels, including 12 times in the Gospel of John, plus four other times in the New Testament (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible [Zondervan], ed. by Merrill Tenney, 4:203, 5:485-486). It almost always occurs on the lips of Jesus referring to Himself. It was not an accepted or widely used messianic designation in Jesus’ day. He may have used it because it avoided the political overtones that “Messiah” carried at that time. It was a way of alluding to and yet veiling His messiahship. It shows Him to be the representative man, the last Adam, and thus has nuances of humanity in it.

But it also has overtones of deity, stemming from Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man receives an everlasting kingdom where all people serve Him. At Jesus’ trial, the high priest commanded (Matt. 26:63), “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, alluding to Daniel 7 (26:64), “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In John’s Gospel, the term is always associated either with Christ’s heavenly glory or with the salvation He came to bring.

D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 376) argues that in light of John’s usage of the term, “Jesus is inviting the man to put his trust in the one who is the revelation of God to man…. Jesus himself is the Word incarnate, the one who uniquely reveals God.” Carson also points out that the term in John is connected with Jesus’ role as judge (5:27), which relates to John 9:39-41.

So the correct answer to “Who is the Son of Man?” is, “He is the eternal Word who took on human flesh and offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins (John 1:14, 18; 3:13; 12:23, 32, 34). He is risen from the dead and one day He will judge all the living and the dead (5:27). He is the one in whom we must believe.

2) WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE IN HIM?

In a nutshell, it means to trust Jesus to do what He promised to do. He told the woman at the well that if she asked, He would give her living water (4:10). She asked and He gave! He told the royal official whose son was sick (4:50), “Go, your son lives.” He believed Jesus and left for home and found his son healed. Here, He told the blind man to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash. He went and washed and came away seeing. Jesus promises to give eternal life to whoever believes in Him (3:16). To believe in Him means that you stop believing in your own good works as the way to heaven (as the Pharisees did). To believe in Him means to admit that you’re a sinner and to trust that His death on the cross will atone for all of your sins. Trust Him as you would trust a doctor by taking the prescribed medicine. But there’s a third question that you need to answer to move from spiritual blindness to sight:

3) DO I BELIEVE IN HIM?

This blind man had obeyed Jesus implicitly by going to the pool and washing. He miraculously experienced having his eyes opened. He had borne witness before the hostile Sanhedrin to the point that they kicked him out of the temple. But he still needed to answer this question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

So, don’t take the question for granted! You may think, “I grew up in the church. I’ve always believed in Jesus.” But, do you trust in Him personally as your only hope for heaven? Perhaps you have always tried to obey the Bible’s teaching and lead a moral life. Great, but do you believe in Jesus as your Savior from your sin? Maybe you’ve even preached the gospel to others. Charles Spurgeon (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 36:232) tells of a preacher he knew who got saved while preaching his own sermon! Finally, a saved person in the congregation recognized the change that had come about during the sermon and he cried, “The parson’s converted. Hallelujah!” Everyone broke out in cries of praise and they all joined in singing the doxology! So each of us needs to answer the question, “Do I believe in Jesus?”

But, how can you know if your belief is genuine? After all, we’ve seen several instances in John where people professed faith in Jesus, but it wasn’t genuine saving faith. There are other signs of new life in Christ, but this former blind man reveals these:

E. When you truly believe in Jesus, you gain spiritual sight, confess Jesus as Lord, and bow before Him in worship.

He was blind, but now he saw (9:25). He testified of Jesus as Lord as best as he knew how to these intimidating Jewish leaders. As I mentioned, the Greek word in 9:38 should be translated, “Lord, I believe.” He confessed Jesus as Lord. And, he bowed before Him in worship. At this point, he may not have fully understood that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. But he was giving Jesus far more honor than one would give to an ordinary man or even to a prophet (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 389). Carson (p. 377) says that while it is not clear that he was yet addressing Jesus as “my Lord and my God,” as Thomas did after the resurrection, it is likely that he was “offering obeisance to Jesus as the redeemer from God, the revealer of God.”

Can you say, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see”? Do you openly confess Jesus as your Lord? Do you bow before Him in worship, not just outwardly, but in spirit and in truth (4:24), and not just on Sundays, but all through the week? Those are some of the marks of genuine saving faith.

But, sadly, the story does not end there, with the blind man seeing. It goes on to warn us by showing that there are some who think they see, but they’re really blind:

2. The seeing blind: Jesus came to bring those who think they see without Him to judgment (9:39-41).

While the blind man illustrates those who progress in faith to the point of worship, the Pharisees show us that some regress irretrievably in unbelief to the point of judgment. Jesus has already warned them (8:21, 24) that unless they believed in Him, they would die in their sins. Now, He says (9:39), “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” When they sarcastically retort, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus answers (9:41), “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” Briefly, note three things:

A. To stay in spiritual blindness, insist that you see on your own and thus have no need for the Savior.

As we’ve seen, the way to see is to admit that you’re blind. Jesus is in the business of opening blind eyes. But if you assert that you see quite well without Jesus, then He will leave you in your blindness. In other words, pride keeps you from grace. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5).

B. To stay in spiritual blindness, reject the gift of sight that Jesus offers to you.

Verse 41 is a gracious offer of salvation: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” Jesus is saying, “If you would admit your blindness, I would heal you and you would not come into judgment. But your stubborn rejection of Me keeps you in your sins.” Rejecting the light that God graciously gives leads to further hardening and judgment.

C. The result of rejecting spiritual sight is to be hardened in unbelief that culminates in eternal judgment.

There is a scary principle in the Bible: If you reject the light that God graciously gives you, He will confirm your rejection and leave you in your blindness. In Matthew 13, the disciples ask Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables. He responds (13:14-15) by citing the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9:

“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;

You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

For the heart of this people has become dull,

With their ears they scarcely hear,

And they have closed their eyes,

Otherwise they would see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

And understand with their heart and return,

And I would heal them.’”

This means that the way you respond to the question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” has huge consequences! If you shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care,” or “I’ll think about it later,” you’re closing your eyes to the light that God is offering you. He is not obligated to give you any more light. If you keep on rejecting His gracious offer of salvation, you may keep on hearing without understanding and keep on seeing without perceiving. Your heart may grow dull and you may die in your sins, only to face eternal judgment.

Maybe you’re wondering, “How can Jesus say here, ‘For judgment I came into this world,’ when John 3:17 states, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world would be saved through Him”? If you keep reading John 3:18-21, the concept of judgment is implicit in Jesus’ coming, although it wasn’t His primary purpose for coming. John 3:18-19 states, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

The purpose of the sun is to give light, but light by its very nature casts shadows. Jesus’ coming as the Light of the world means that the shadow of judgment is necessarily cast on those who reject Him. So by His very nature Jesus divides all people into two camps. Some allow the light to expose their sin and ask Jesus to cleanse them and give them sight. Others hate the light because they love their sin. They reject Jesus and come under His judgment.

Conclusion
How many times have I failed to heed the words of the Lord when it comes to really seeing? How many times have I chosen my own blindness to the real gospel that the Lord is trying to instill in me. Fortunately God is long-suffering and will not withhold sight to see the blindness we all possess because we want what we want. One day we wake up and realize it is all for nothing until we allow the Lord to be our sight.

So Jesus is either good news or bad news for you, and I assure you, He is no joke! Your eternal destiny hinges on your response to Jesus’ question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Join the former blind man by responding, “Lord, I believe.” And fall at His feet in worship!

See you next blog,
Ted

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