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Turn on Your Light Bulb – October 18, 2021

Losing The Right – October 19, 2021

His this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Losing The Right

One of the things I tell each couple who comes to see me for pre-marital counseling is that on the day they are married they will have forever given up the right to think as an individual. I understand when a person marries, they do not stop existing as an individual, but another individual is forever directly impacted by their choices from that day forward.

A wedding day is a miraculous one. It is not the preacher, minister, court official or any other human being that marries people, God does. Jesus said in Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” God is the one who does the marrying. If marriage is what Jesus has said it is, the taking of a man and a woman and making of them oneness, then marriage is a miracle. It is as we have said, a re-creation of the oneness enjoyed and experienced by Adam and Eve as they were in fact literally created one flesh. Miraculous indeed that the same would happen for us!

That oneness is so thorough, so complete, so encompassing that the parts of the whole can no longer claim autonomy. While we have gained the privilege and the right to think as a husband or a wife, we have relinquished the right to think as an individual. It is not what we are any longer, and as such it is not a way we are free to continue to think.

When I gave my life to the Lord, when I chose to follow Him with everything I have, I gave up my right to think like someone enslaved to sin. I am still capable of sinful thought, but I am not right to do so. Why? I belong to Christ. He is not enslaved to sin, therefore as one belonging to Him, I am not within my rights to be enslaved to sin.

It is much the same when we allow ourselves to be joined with one another in marriage. If I am married, then I am married 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. There is no time allotted for singleness. I am now a part of something greater than myself so I can no longer consider only myself.

God’s word actually speaks to this very thing. We will look at this scripture in later podcasts in greater depth but I use it today to illustrate this biblical truth: 1 Corinthians 7:4 says; The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. When you are at work you don’t think like an individual, you think like an employee, someone responsible to the employer who is counting on you. If you are an employer, you don’t think like an individual, you think like someone who has employees who count on you. If you play on a softball team or a bowling league or some other team sport, you don’t think like an individual, you think like a team player when you are in the game. When we are at work or on a team we have to answer to more than ourselves. This scripture points out it is the same in marriage. I am responsible to my wife; she is responsible to me. I cannot afford to consider myself…only…ever…it will make me a poor husband. Likewise, she would be a poor wife if she only considered herself and not us.

I know a lot of people take issue with this and other scriptures like it. While I may be the one offering this podcast, the scriptures come from God’s word. We can take issue with a particular concept in God’s word…but not without taking issue with God. It is not God’s responsibility to get His word in line with our thinking on marriage, it is our responsibility to get our thinking on marriage in line with His word. I will give you time to reflect on the entirety of this scripture, it will be a few more weeks yet before I dive deeper into its meaning. For the purposes of today’s discussion, I use it only to illustrate that as husbands and wives we are responsible to consider our spouse in everything. It would be my hope that if this is not already your practice, that you learn to run every thought, every decision through the filter of: “How will this affect my spouse?”  If we as married couples would learn to do that better and more often, many of the marital difficulties I deal with every day in my office would be dealt with by making the best decision in the first place.

Satan has three jobs, they are noted for us in scripture…kill, steal, and destroy. Nothing will kill, steal or destroy the peace and joy in your marriage like selfishness. Your marriage is about two being one, and selfishness sucks the air out of the room marriage is designed to thrive in. It creates an atmosphere that will not support the life of a marriage. That is precisely why the enemy tries so hard to make us resistant to giving up our autonomy…because autonomy makes us selfish and selfish makes us single…at least in our minds.

Questions to answer:

  1. Do you think you have the right to think as an individual though you are married?
  1. Do your decisions back up your answer to the question above?
  1. What are your gut reactions to scriptures like 1 Corinthians 7:4?
  1. In what ways have you still been thinking as an individual?
  1. In what ways have you been doing a good job thinking like a husband or a wife?

Actions to take:

  1. Talk with your spouse about checks and balances the two of you can enact that will keep you thinking as a husband and wife and not as an individual.
  1. If you need to seek forgiveness from your spouse for being selfish instead of selfless…do that now.
  1. Ask God to keep you reminded of the oneness you share with your spouse and to help you be protective of it so that the enemy can’t easily steal, kill, or destroy your marital peace and joy.

So now, recognizing you are not alone, and unable to afford to think and act as if you were…Go be Awesome!

Autumn Leaves – October 14, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Autumn Leaves

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) …God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart…

I love to see spring bursting forth. After the short stark winter days, spring is filled with the promise of things to come. Everything is new in the spring. New flowers, new growth, new leaves. Summer is awesome too! The warmth takes hold, and while present, seems as though it will never end. The natural greenness of the outdoors comes into its fullness. The days are as long as they will be all year, and we are able to spend the long hot afternoons cooled by the shade of the deep green leaves of the tree limbs swaying above. Autumn is the anomaly when it comes to the leaves. In the spring and summer the leaves are green as one would expect. Leaves are thought to be for the most part, supposed to be green. Some shade of green are most leaves natural color. In the fall however the beautiful deviation takes place. The leaves turn all manner of colors and then fall away as if bowing facedown to the ground.

This past weekend our family was spending the morning together and having a wonderful time. We were outside, sitting and talking and enjoying sweet pumpkin doughnuts and coffee as we manned a family yard sale in the driveway of our home. As we talked and enjoyed the time together, some of our grandchildren were playing in the front yard running through, and kicking up the leaves that were falling prematurely from our old maple tree. As I sat amidst it all, I watched the falling leaves and thought about how they resembled our walk with the Lord.

In the natural we are who we are. We act as we will. We think we know what is right, we feel secure in being who we are, doing our ‘own’ thing…all the while actually looking like every other person around us. Everyone has their own ‘brand’, but a selfish person living a life that is designed to suit them, ultimately looks like every other selfish person doing selfish things. We think we are making our ‘mark’ on the world but as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, in the end, no matter what our ‘brand’ looked like, no matter what ‘mark’ we made, it all ends up looking the same. Kind of like the summer leaves. When you look closely at them you may see some small differences, but step back just a few feet and they are all described the same way. Green.

Ah, but in the Autumn…it all changes. As the leaves are impacted by the weather their colors morph and they become more and more interesting and beautiful. They are still on the trees in their natural position except now their colors are radiant and amazing! Kind of like what happens to us as people when we are impacted by the incredible love of Jesus. As we consider His awesome vision for our lives, His amazing desire to make us more, and we submit to His Lordship…everything changes. He takes the ordinary condition of selfishness and transforms it into the extraordinary beauty of selflessness. He changes us from the inside out and slowly we begin to resemble Him. In our natural state we can only look one dimensional…sinful. But in our intended state, we are given through the transformational empowerment of Jesus the ability to look like Him…righteous. We become beautiful like the autumn leaves.

Those falling leaves didn’t escape my attention either. As I said earlier, they were falling as if to bow face down on the ground. Philippians 2:9-11 in the New King James Version says; Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Someday, just as every leaf must fall from the tree admitting that Autumn has come, every knee will be compelled to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord.

Those leaves my grandchildren were finding joy in last weekend had fallen early. None of the leaves yet to fall were bringing them such pleasure…only the ones that had seemingly done so ahead of time as if by their own accord. The impact of that was not lost on me either. I thought of the joy our Lord experiences when we bow to Him with our lives before it is required of us. As I watched those children with smiles on their faces and squeals of delight escaping their lips playing gleefully among the leaves that had seemingly decided to fall early, I knew it was nothing compared to the joy in heaven expressed when each one of us decides to bow to the Lordship of Jesus! Luke 15:10 says as much. In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

What an awesome God we serve! He loves us so much that He desires to remind us of it in everything. Even to this aging Papa as He watches his grandchildren playing in the leaves. Even the simplest things reveal the complexity of His unending love!

So now, expecting to see His great love being showered on you like so many leaves falling from the trees…Go Be Awesome!

Differences That Divide – Part Three – October 11, 2021

Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Differences That Divide – Part Three This is the third part of a Three-part series and so if you have not listened to parts one and two I would strongly encourage you to do that before listening to this edition.

For the past two weeks I have been talking about the differences between the way a man thinks (compartmentally) and the way a woman thinks (relationally). Today I want to delve into why God did this. As I said, though we think as men and women, husbands and wives, and we do almost certainly amuse God regularly, I don’t believe that He created us with these particular differences to amuse Himself or to frustrate us.

Remember back in Genesis 1:26 we read; Then God said “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness… and then in verse 27, So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. You’ll also remember that I spoke about the fact that God couldn’t get all of His varied attributes and characteristics into one gender, so He created two genders as one flesh so that their oneness would be reflective of Him. Then He made provision for that oneness to be re-created throughout history through a mystery (or a miracle really) called marriage.

Since we know what the plan is, to create one thing out of two so that it might reflect Him, we can deduce that when there is a difference that follows gender lines, it likely exists because God has duality of that particular characteristic or attribute. Accepting that premise, we can then look for evidence that He thinks both compartmentally and relationally.

How do we know what God thinks? We simply look to His word. What evidence do I have then that God thinks compartmentally? We can find that relatively easily, we just have to turn in our bibles all the way to…the first verse! Genesis 1:1 says; In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is a compartmentalized idea. It is simply a statement of fact. Though the scope of the content is immeasurable, the concept is singular. It doesn’t mean anything more than it says. It does not lead to anything; it does not allude to anything not covered in the statement…it is compartmentalized. It was written by Moses but if we believe the bible to be true 2 Timothy 3:16 makes it clear that though Moses may have scribed it, God’s Holy Spirit spoke it. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Therefore, this first verse written in God’s word comes from the mind of God. It is one of His thoughts recorded in written form. I could literally go on for days citing scriptures that display God’s compartmentalized thinking, but I will leave some of that research up to you. I do suggest as you are becoming aware of this information, that as you read God’s word look to see if what you are reading seems compartmental in nature or is more of a relational thought of God’s. Speaking of the relational side of God’s thinking, I chose another well-known scripture to illustrate this aspect of God’s thoughts. John 3:16 does a good job of illustrating relational thought. I will break the verse down into its individual relational concepts to show this clearly:

  • 1st – For God so loved the world
  • 2nd – That He gave His only begotten Son
  • 3rd – That whoever believes in Him
  • 4th – Should not perish
  • 5th – But have everlasting life

This verse is relational on five levels and clearly comes from the mind of God. God thinks compartmentally and relationally…or for you ladies He thinks relationally and compartmentally. God thinks both ways! As I have looked closely at scripture I have come to believe that He thinks both ways all the time. There have been many times when I have shared a scripture with my wife, pointing out to her the compartmentalized view of it, and then she has then shared with me the relational meaning in it that I didn’t even see or consider because I was viewing it from my natural compartmentalized mindset.

It quickly becomes evident when you look for it that God does demonstrate in scripture that He uses both processes of thought. With that in mind, and understanding that the two kinds of thinking are so different from one another, arguably opposites of each other, it becomes clear why we as humans are not able to possess both ways of thinking. It is easy to see why God created men to think one way while He created women to think the other. By doing this and then joining us in marriage, our resulting oneness possesses both kinds of thought. You’ll recall that in the scripture we reflected on a few weeks ago from Malachi, God referred to marriage as a covenant. In the Old Testament one of the effects of two people entering into covenant with each other was that what one possessed the other now possessed…right down to a birthright. We see this clearly illustrated in the story of King David. David, while still a young boy, was a friend of King Saul’s son Jonathan. David and Jonathan joined themselves to one another in a covenant. While the outcome was not the intent of either boy at the time, it is interesting that God honored the covenant even beyond the participant’s considerations. Jonathan was the king’s son, heir to the throne…but it was David who became King after Saul. Make no mistake, God cares about covenant.

As compartmental and relational thinkers, when we are joined in the covenant of marriage, our oneness now makes us each possessors of both kinds of thinking. I don’t get to actually think relationally in my mind, my wife keeps that process in her pretty head, as I keep our compartmentalized thought in my not-so-pretty one. As one flesh however, we each possess and have access to both processes. Proverbs 31 speaks to this. Proverbs 31:10,11 reads as follows: Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. This scripture points out the need to consult one another to arrive at complete thought. It basically states that the husband who considers his wife’s thoughts on a matter will make decisions that will turn out well for the entire family. It was recorded in this direction only because at the time it was written, men made all the decisions. Because women do make decisions for the marriage and the family today, I don’t think God would be upset with us for reading it in reverse. Who can find a virtuous husband? For his worth is far above rubies. The heart of his wife safely trusts him; so she will have no lack of gain. 

Essentially, God is saying here that we should consult each other if we want to make good decisions. He utilizes both processes of thought and His word tells us He is wise, in fact, that He is wisdom. We can then conclude that the two ingredients of wisdom are compartmentalized thought and relational thought. So if we want to make wise decisions, God is making sure we see the necessity and the value of consulting one another.

I contend that a husband can achieve intelligent thought all on his own. A wife can also achieve intelligent thought all on her own. Wisdom however, can only be attained when both processes of thought are considered…and utilized in the final decision.

Questions to Answer:

  1. What are some of the best decisions that have been made in your marriage? Were they the product of both of your thoughts on that particular subject?
  1. How do you think these past few podcasts have changed your view of your spouse’s thoughts?
  1. When you believe you are right about an issue you and your spouse are facing, are you open to differing thoughts without the inclination to discard one of them as incorrect?
  1. Are you open to the idea that the two of you can differ greatly in your thinking on a particular matter and both of you can in fact be right?

Actions to Take:

  1. As you read scripture, try to decide if what you are reading is compartmental like we see in Genesis 1:1 or if it is relational as we see in John 3:16. Get into the practice of sharing your thoughts from God’s word.  There is much to be gleaned from seeing scriptures from your spouse’s way of thinking.
  1. Talk together about the idea of each of you having different ways of looking at things and the value that can bring to your corporate decision making process.
  1. Discuss some practical things the two of you can do to make sure that both of your lines of thought have been considered when making decisions of importance.
  1. Decide what the two of you consider a decision of importance to be. Put some measurable parameters in place to help you know what decisions should not be made in your marriage without having time to discuss both ways of thinking before the decision is completed.

So now, understanding that God created you to think differently so that together you might better reflect His thinking and more readily arrive at wise decisions that will bless the two of you, consult one another regularly and Go be Awesome!

The Ever Present Thief – October 7, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The ever present thief.

Americans spend a lot of money making sure they don’t get robbed, Last year we spent an estimated 20.64 Billion dollars to keep our homes safe from thieves. That doesn’t include the astronomically higher amount spent by businesses across the land to keep their assets safe. We put up security cameras, motion detectors, window and door alarms, and pay monthly fees to services to monitor all of it while we sleep or are away from our homes. I can pull out my cell phone anywhere on the planet and see who is at my front door, in my back yard, or anywhere else on my property in real time. These measures are just to keep our homes safe from intrusion. Additionally, we use ever changing passwords and encryption so that we can do our banking, keep up with our investments, and check our e-mail on the go. We utilize fingerprint and facial recognition to keep our phones and other devices secure from those who would seek to steal our information, and we purchase wallets made of special materials to keep the RFID chips embedded in our bank cards secure. These are just a few of the steps we take to keep ourselves from being stolen from. Yet, we do little to keep ourselves secure from the most prominent thief that exists.

The most successful thief is ever present. Always there, always ready to steal from us. We recognize it when it has been successful, but it is so good at its craft that we are often inept to catch it before it has met its goal. If only there were some system that could be put in place, some measure that could be taken to keep us safe.

So what is this thief I speak of? What can literally steal our peace, our friendships, our families, our marriages? What is this thief’s name that is capable of causing us to lose our very lives? Selfishness. Selfishness will cause us to lose all of the things I listed and more, those were just some of the most important I could think of.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter four how selfishness steals contentment from people. He saw that even “good people” are affected by it. They might be hardworking productive members of society, but if they are always working to obtain more, they are never able to be content and enjoy what they have. Selfishness has stolen their joy, peace, rest and contentment.

Paul wrote about selfishness in several of his letters. To the Corinthians, Galatians and Philippians he wrote of his concern that selfishness might be stealing from them. He tried to help them understand that most concerning of all, selfishness, had the potential to steal even their good relationship with Jesus. To the Philippians he offered the antidote to this ever present thief. In chapter two of his letter to them he wrote saying; Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose. When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. … (NCV)

Humility and selflessness are the strongest security systems available and are guaranteed to be 100 percent effective against this terrible thief. Mathew 16:24-26 records; Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Jesus was clear, selfishness, wanting what we want and being willing to do what is necessary to have it, will even steal our ability to have eternal security with God. He said that if we desire a healthy relationship with Him, we have to deny ourselves. That is the definition of selflessness which is the only security measure 100% effective at protecting ourselves from selfishness.

As to the other things that can be stolen, think of the last time you had a poor interaction with your spouse, your family or friends. Were you putting them first? Were you as Paul instructed in Romans 12:10 preferring them? Or is it more likely that you had a preferred outcome and you were willing to selfishly sacrifice peace in the relationship in order to have what you wanted? Selfishness has stolen from all of us and will continue to steal from you until you activate the only effective firewall, selflessness. And a relationship with Jesus is the only way to have access to an ample supply of it. James 4:7, &10 says; Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Selfishness seeks to take everything, on the other hand the selflessness that results from a growing life in Christ’s love for us gives and gives and gives. It is only when we begin to understand what it means to give our life away to Him that we begin to experience the abundant life He replaces it with. Want to put a stop to the most prolific thief in history? Press into Jesus and enjoy the experience as His selflessness flows through you.

So now, practicing selflessness and stopping the thief in his tracks…Go be awesome!

Differences That Divide – Part Two – October 4, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Differences That Divide – Part Two This is part two of a three-part series looking at how we think differently as men and women, husbands and wives, and why God created us to do so. If you have not listened to last week’s podcast, Differences That Divide – Part One, I encourage you to do so before you listen to this edition.

Last week we talked about how men think compartmentally. Today we will look at what it means that a woman thinks relationally. Let me start by saying that while I believe that every man since Adam has been created a compartmentalized thinker and every woman created since Eve is a relational thinker, there is a scale. What I mean by that is that although all men are compartmentalized in their thinking, some are more so than others. All women are created relational thinkers but some are more so than others. These scales are not a scale of completeness or correctness. Being more or less so of either is not more right or less right. I am incredibly compartmentalized…that does not make me faster, better, or smarter than my less compartmentalized male counterparts. We are all individuals and as such fall somewhere on the continuum of being more or less compartmentalized or relational in our thinking.

As we look today at the special way women were designed to think, I offer the analogy of a spider web. No, I don’t think of women as arachnids, and I’m not saying women have cobwebs in their heads. What I am saying is that a spider’s web has many characteristics that make it a good analogy. If you have ever seen a spider’s web you have undoubtedly noticed that it is made from many different strands of silk, each of which are all interconnected. If an insect enters and gets caught in the web it sends vibrations out throughout the web because a movement in one area creates vibrations throughout the entire web. No matter where the web is affected by the intruding future meal, the spider knows which direction to travel to get to it, and a plethora of other information based on the impact with the web. The female thought process is much the same. In relational thinking, everything matters to everything else. Nothing happens that does not have an effect on everything else. “It is what it is” is a statement that women understand but it takes a man’s compartmentalized thinking to be comfortable with. Men can understand the sentence “You can’t change one thing without changing everything” but women with their relational thinking are far more comfortable with the accuracy of the statement.

In relational thinking every thought creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which creates…and so on. Some of the strengths of relational thinking include a woman’s ability to multi-task and a thing we call ‘women’s intuition’. That skill, it turns out, isn’t witchcraft, but rather a subconscious, instantaneous weighing out of all of the variables of a given set of options resulting in an indefensible knowledge of which choice has the higher probability of success. I say indefensible because she doesn’t necessarily know why or how she knows…she just knows…call it women’s intuition…it’s a thing.

One of the weaknesses of relational thinking is that when under stress it tends to speak in extremes. This is happening, men, when you hear statements such as “You never…take out the trash” or “You always…treat me unfairly” coming from your wife. She knows cognitively that these statements are inaccurate, but they are a product of her relational thinking and she is somewhat helpless to stop using them. They are the result of all of the times the situation has occurred in the past being brought to memory unsolicited, and connected to the current scenario. When this happens it is best to not try to make her agree with you and admit to being inaccurate. The best course of action, men, is to recognize that this statement identifies underlying stress, and move meet the needs that will reduce her stress.

As men and women we each utilize these different processes of thinking. That is as it is designed to be and is not a problem for you to correct. The problem comes because we do not appreciate the difference, much less celebrate it! All of us believe we are right to think the way we do. It is natural to us. We were created to think in our way, and we trust our way of thinking to help us rightly decipher any circumstances we encounter. The real difficulty arises when we, believing ourselves to be right, discount our spouse’s thoughts as wrong simply because they differ from ours. Differing thoughts do not dictate that one must be wrong and the other right. Each can be and often are right…just different. His thoughts are usually right compartmentally speaking, while hers are also right from a relational point of view. So other than recognizing the value of both ways of thinking (though that alone is usually a huge improvement over the alternative) how should we respond to this difference? Short answer…celebrate it! Celebrating this difference is impossible without an understanding of why we are celebrating. Knowing there is a difference is not enough. Knowing that neither of you has to be wrong, and that in fact, you are likely both right, is not enough. Those are good steps to take in terms of resolving your differences, but we need more for a celebration to break out. Next week we will look at why God created us with these differences in thought processes. I hope to show you that it is not some celestial joke that is being played on us for God’s amusement, though I think He probably is often amused by us and how we interact with one another as husbands and wives. When we have a greater understanding of the overall plan, it is easier to get excited as we see that it is through the difference that the plan comes together.

Psalm 139:13,14 say; For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. One of the reasons we trust that we are right to think as we do is because scriptures like this give us assurances that the way were created was not by chance, but with wonderful intentionality. As you read passages such as the one above, consider this; this same scripture that makes you secure that you have been made exactly as God wanted you to be made, gives your incredibly differing spouse the same confidence about themselves…and you are both correct to think so.

Questions to Answer:

  1. Do you recognize the relational thinking? (Wife)
  2. What are some examples you can each come up with of her relational thinking?
  3. Wives – What things do you think are personal strengths and weaknesses of your own relational thinking.
  4. Husbands – What things do you see that your wife does that are personal strengths and weaknesses of her specific relational thinking?

Actions to Take:

  1. Thank God that He saw fit to give the wife relational thinking. Ask Him to help each of you see it as a gift and not as something requiring change

So now, accepting the fact that you were both created individually, to think differently…Go be awesome!

Who Do You Say I Am – October 3, 2021

What are you afraid of? – September 30, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…What are you afraid of?

In his first of four inauguration speeches, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the following famous statement; “The only thing we have to fear…is fear itself.” While that was to become one of the defining things that president said, and is perhaps the most quoted of his comments, it was unable to wipe fear away.

In my day to day work I sit with people who share with me their fears. Fears that they will never be loved again. Fears that they are unlovable. Fears that they will never have the marriage they thought they could when they first married. Fears that the latest difficulty in their lives will be too great to handle. Fears that they cannot please God. Some even express a fear that they will be alone forever.

Societally, there are additional things that people find themselves afraid of. There is the current pandemic. Fear that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Fear that people are becoming more divided and not less so. Of course this is a very short list of the things available to us to incite some level of fear.

God’s word has some interesting things to say about fear. Isaiah 41:10 says Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Of all of the fears that I talk with people about it seems that they are most afraid of having to face whatever difficulty they may be experiencing, alone. What they cannot fathom is having the wherewithal to stand up to whatever their fear is without someone supporting them.

Sometimes I find that people are afraid of standing alone in a crowd. What I mean by that is, they know the right thing to do in a certain situation, but they are afraid because they think they will be the only one in their family, or among their co-workers, or even their friends willing to take that stance. God says clearly that if we walk with Him we are never alone. This scripture goes on to say that not only is He with us but that He will strengthen us to the point of holding us up even if we have no strength in us other than Him. I think it noteworthy that He says He does this with His righteous right hand. I take this to mean that when we take a stand for righteousness we can always know He has our back, and as His word says, if He is for us who can be against us. (Rom. 8:31)

Another message from God’s word about fear is this. 1 John 4:18 says; There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. I don’t think President Roosevelt knew how close he was to the truth when he made his statement about fear. This scripture ultimately says that the only thing that we really should fear is an eternity separated from God. As Christ followers we know that the perfect love of the Father that allowed for the sacrifice of His only begotten Son’s life in exchange for ours, has eliminated that possibility of permanent separation. Therefore, we have nothing to fear, not even fear itself. This goes to further reinforce my thoughts from last Thursday…Worst Case Scenarios. No matter what may be causing us concern in this life, the worst case scenario is that we die, and as children of God, earthly death results in glorious life everlasting.

Finally, I want to look at 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. As people who enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus, and as a result are empowered and equipped to live a life without fear, we should want everyone to be as free from fear as we are. When he wrote these words to Timothy, (his spiritual son) Paul was himself facing martyrdom. Literally daily staring an earthly death in the eye, Paul wanted Timothy (and us) to know that even that dire circumstance should not result in fear. But, Paul did not simply say to Timothy; “I am not afraid to die”. He encouraged Timothy (and us) that fear didn’t belong among our exercised emotions because to die is to gain. He reassured Timothy that instead of fear God empowers us to have a spirit of power and of love. So equipped, we then are enabled to turn our thoughts from ourselves and our situations outward toward others. In that power, and because of that love, we can share that same gospel with them that gives us such peace, even in the midst of tumultuous times. Finally, Paul mentioned that this lack of fear would result in a sound mind. This term intimates the ability for supernatural self-control. Essentially, Paul was writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that perfect love enables us to live in perfect peace.

So for the American people, President Roosevelt had a great message of encouragement…”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. For the Christian our King wants us to know we have nothing to fear…especially not fear itself! Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

So now, living without fear because you have experienced and are sharing the perfect love of Jesus with others…Go be awesome!

Differences That Divide – September 27, 2021

Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday marriage message…Differences That Divide – Part One

For the next several weeks the focus of this podcast is going to be a singular topic but because of its complexity and depth we will break it into three separate editions. So please stick with me until the end so that you can take in all that I have to share with you on the subject.

You may recall that in a previous podcast entitled It Takes Two I spoke of the physical differences between men and women and the fact that we really don’t have too much trouble celebrating those differences. I told you that I would be illuminating some other differences that are a little harder to celebrate and seem to cause couples a bit more trouble. Today we begin looking at the uncelebrated differences.

Spoiler alert: you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on everything, but then you didn’t need me to tell you that. Why don’t you see everything the same way? There are so many elements to the answer of that question I would not be able to do so conclusively. Suffice it to say (and it is crucial to understand) the reasons you see things differently are as numerous as the stars, which on further review may be a slight overstatement.

Following is a list of a few of the contributing factors. I offer it only to help you both see the number of variables that go into each of your interpretations of anything that stimulates a reaction:

  • Family of origin
  • Past experiences
  • Consideration of intent
  • Present emotional state
  • Stress levels
  • Interpretation of body language
  • Expectations
  • Body and brain chemistry
  • Language use
  • He thinks compartmentally, she thinks relationally

You and your spouse are not supposed to see things eye to eye, be on the same page, have a meeting of the minds, or anything else pop-culture likes to call it. The first 9 examples from the list above are only a partial list, but give sufficient reason for a husband and wife, no matter how close they may be, to have difficulty viewing something exactly the same. The tenth reason listed is especially profound. It makes note of the fact that the two of you are not even wired to have the same process of thinking. You are in fact pre-programmed to think completely differently…about everything!

What is compartmental thinking? What is relational thinking? There have been many books written on the subject such as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus authored by John Gray, Ph.D. and Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel, just to name two. There are others as well, and they all speak to the fact that these two different, and in many ways, opposite, lines of thought exist and one is found in men while the other is exhibited by women.

I believe, as these books do, that men are compartmentalized in their thinking and women are relational in their thinking. These are two distinct thought process patterns that will arrive at two entirely different conclusions given the same set of stimuli. As I hope is obvious by now, we as Christ followers, believe God to be the immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, infallible Creator. As such, He didn’t make any mistakes; we were created to think differently than our spouses on purpose, therefore, it is not something that needs to be corrected.  He was considering everything, and with supreme power He created all that was created with no need to change it…ever! He did it perfectly the first time! With that belief, I consider it to be divine determination made with intentionality that men and women would be created to have these differing processes of thought.

I have some analogies I like to use when explaining the ways the two thought processes operate. I liken compartmentalized thinking to a row of lockers in a school hallway. Every subject matter has its own locker. If a man is to think freely about any subject, he has to place his head in the appropriate locker. If he is required to think about another topic, he must remove himself from that locker and go find the necessary locker and place his head in it. As he does this, he is equally able to focus on the new subject. However, he can no longer think about the subject he was, just moments ago, engrossed in.

This process of thought has some strengths and it has some weaknesses. In the strength department are things like the ability for intense focus on a task. Compartmentalized thinking lends itself to that beautifully because it is not capable of thinking of peripheral things that would distract from the original goal at hand. A weakness of compartmentalization is difficulty in thinking all the way through an unknown process before it is begun. This can lead to some problems but has, at the same time, honed his ability to utilize trial and error processes without undue frustration. A failure to be able to continue is often seen not as a failure but as a new understanding leading to a successful solution. C.S. Lewis said “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

The format of this podcast, specifically my desire to keep each edition less than 10 minutes places real limitations on how I must approach big ideas. Recognizing this to be one of those concepts too complex to reduce to a single podcast I will resume next week with a discussion of relational thinking and how it operates. I will then utilize a third entry to illustrate some of God’s purposes behind the created differences in how we think. As I stated before, God did this perfectly, it does not need to be corrected, as couples we simply need to learn to walk in it successfully. Psalm 19:7-10 read; The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgements of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

God’s decisions about how we should be created are not only right, they are to be sought after and desired as gold is desirable to the eyes and honey to the tongue. This difference between men and women, in fact, all of the differences between men and women, are by His perfect design. We do not need to understand why He does what He does, we need only understand that if it comes from a good God, it is good and we should be completely and totally accepting of it to the point of desiring for ourselves.

Questions to Answer:

  • Do you recognize this compartmentalized thinking? (in the Husband)
  • What are some examples you can each come up with of his compartmental thinking?
  • Husbands – What things do you think are personal strengths and perhaps weaknesses of your own compartmentalized thinking.
  • Wives – What things do you see that your husband does that are personal strengths and weaknesses of his specific compartmentalized thinking? (Be kind ladies, next week we will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your relational thinking!)

Actions to Take:

  • Thank God that He saw fit to give the husband compartmentalized his thinking. Ask Him to help each of you see it as a gift and not as something requiring change.

So now, accepting that you were designed to think differently than one another, and recognizing this must be a good thing if it came from God…and it did…Go be awesome!

Enlightened, Empowered, & Equipped – September 26, 2021

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