Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The first thing in my life that I remember was wanting to stand up, real bad! And for a just-born baby donkey that is not easy. It felt great, though, as a soft, warm, furry nose nuzzled me and a slow, firm voice said to me, "Rest awhile my child, you've had a real rough time." I sure was tired; I remember that, and then I fell asleep.
I don't know how long it was, but I finally woke up. I felt better and began to look around my new home. The stable in which I was born was more like a cave with the back wall, a good portion of both side walls, and the roof being sunk into a large hill. Looking around I saw other animals—a yellow cow, two calves, a magnificent mule, an old mare, and three donkeys besides my mother. Everything looked so fascinating that I just had to stand up. Working hard, I soon was standing, and it wasn't long until I was visiting with the other animals.
Later, I heard my mother say to the mare that Sunisa sure was a determined girl. She had called me Sunisa; I remember thinking that Sunisa was a pretty name, and I liked it. I soon discovered something else—I had been given a great gift, the power to understand what was going on around me. This wonderful gift has made my life one fantastic event after another, and it is only natural that I would want to share it with you. Why, just two months after I was born, some amazing things started happening, and I was a part of them. It's hard to believe that I was born at just the right time and in just the right place to witness the greatest event in all of history. I've just got to tell you about it.
Even though I was there, I'm retelling the first part of the story as it was told to me by the cow we called Wolley Woc. She had been around a long time, and she said that I was too young to be able to understand what was happening. Besides, she wanted to be included, so I consented to tell her story exactly as she related it to me.
Wolley Woc and the Stable Intruders:
The Cow's Side of the Nativity
Now, you may think it kind of odd that Sunisa would have trusted a cow to tell part of her story, but it just had to be told right you see. We cows notice more than you might think, and this was a pretty wild time for us stable animals. Since Sunisa said she was going to tell others about that night, and since I am the one in the barn who knows what is going on, she said that I could speak for all of the animals that were there that night.
I'm sure that you must wonder about me a little; doesn't everyone wonder a little about cows? Anyway, I'll tell you something about me. My friends call me Wolley Woc. I'm a large, yellow milk cow with silky ears, and if you ever see me you can recognize me by a fiery red fringe on the end of my long tail. It has been said by many of the bulls around that I'm not hard to look at either, but of course, I wouldn't know about that. I take pride in standing very still when old Apsafar, the owner of the inn and this stable, milks me because that is a part of my job. I also try to teach the two calves in here to eat right and to act grown up. In my time I've been around too. Why, I've had five different owners in my life; some of them had cold hands too, and you have not heard me fuss once.
But on this particular night, I think, we all had something to fuss about! Why, old Gip (Gip is a grouchy, old pig across the fence from my pasture) grunted haughtily to me, "Ms. Woc, if that kind of phenomenon had taken place in my domicile, I would literally have had apoplexy." Gip is known around here to be pretty smart, even though most people don't like him much. I'm not sure what all of those words meant, but I think he thought that I had a pretty good reason to be uptight.
Anyway, on that evening, even before the excitement started, I was not in too good a mood because Apsafar had come to the pasture to get me early, and you know how it is when you have to do something before you are ready to do it. I had worked hard that day trying to eat a lot of grass to make a lot of milk, and you know, I'm not getting any younger. To go along with this frustrating situation our whole stable was full of strange animals even before dark. Every kind of braying donkey was in there that you can imagine. I usually like to doze a little as it is getting dark, but those donkeys were making so much noise that I was frustrated even before the night started. Elum, a large, white mule who has the stall next to me, said something about there being a count in town. Now, I'm not too smart, but I don't think that a count could cause the excitement that happened on that night.
As I said, we were crowded, and I knew what had happened one other time when all of the stalls had filled up—they made me share a stall with Erama, the horse Apsafar rides the six miles to go to the temple or visit his sister in Jerusalem. Now, I don't know how you'd feel about spending the night with an old gray mare, but I didn't appreciate it. Erama has the awful habit of chewing with her mouth open, and she swishes her tail on me all the time, and she takes up more space than she should, and she is always bragging about the good old days, and she does a lot of other things I don't appreciate. It's kind of hard to understand why Apsafar thinks so much of her, but he treats her almost as good as he does Elum who gets the best treatment in the stable. As it turned out, on that night I didn't have to stay with Erama because Apsafar put one of those visiting donkeys in with her. That poor donkey!
Well, with all the commotion I couldn't doze at all, and since I have a nice window in my stall, I just stuck my head out, chewed my cud, and tried not to pay any attention to all those strange animals in the stable. A couple of nights before it had gotten down almost to freezing, but that night it was just cool and perfectly clear. I remember wondering at how unusually light it was all around. I could see the hills outside of town easily, and that I didn't ever remember being able to do at night. I was watching those hills just as it had become dark, and I noticed a bright light on one of them. The thought came to me that there might be a big fire over there. Now I don't like fires. A stable across the road from the stable where I was born caught fire and burned when I was a calf. I remembered shivering at the thought of what might be happening out there on that hillside.
Inside the stable Apsafar brought in another donkey, even though we were completely full. There wasn't any place for him so he had to tie him over by the door, throw some hay around, and just leave him with a sad look on his face. I remember Sunisa braying something comforting to him. That's just like her. She's not like most other donkeys; she's nice like that. I was glad that I had a comfortable stall with a large hay-filled manger in which to spend the night.
As I started to settle down, I took another look out the window, and can you imagine what I saw? There came another donkey, and this one was carrying a fat, young girl. I said to myself, I said, "Double W" (that's what some of my closest friends call me), "I just can't stand another donkey in the stable tonight," but before you knew it, in came Apsafar with that donkey. You have to be a little careful saying you can't stand something because that will probably be just what you get. Sara, Apsafar's sixteen year old daughter who I like very much, came with him and started placing bales of hay in the middle of the stable. And then—and I know you'll have a hard time believing this—that girl and an older man came in too! They sat down on one of those bales of hay and Apsafar talked nice to them, placed a lamp beside them . . . and left! Sara, who was about the same age as the girl, stayed also, and I wasn't very happy about the whole situation.
Normally I can stand quite a lot; remember, I live in a stable. But to have to spend the night with humans was just too much for one evening. It was about then that I got so worked up I just couldn't take anymore, and while I'm a little ashamed of it now, I began to bawl at the top of my lungs. Have you ever heard an angry bawling cow? It's an awesome sound! In a few moments the sad donkey by the door took up the cry and began braying, and then another and another until all the donkeys were braying in unison. Even the old gray mare, Erama, was neighing excitedly. I even think Sunisa entered into the noise a little. I'm not sure what we were doing, but I guess we thought maybe this would show those humans that they were where they didn't belong.
However, they just sat there—the man gently hugging the fat girl and rocking back and forth. I noticed that she seemed to be crying. I couldn't understand that, but it didn't make any difference to us. The noise continued, and even the chickens got into the chorus chucking and cockcrowing and fluttering around the stable. The sound was wonderful and terrible. Outside a pack of dogs started barking under the window. On the little pond the geese were squawking, and an owl in the big oak tree by the window gave wild hoots. Still, the man just sat hugging the softly crying girl, and Sara was rubbing the back of the young girl's hand. I just could not understand what was going on. It was as if they didn't know we animals were even there, let alone be bothered by the noise.
After awhile I guess we all got tired screaming at them, and things quieted down. Our screaming didn't seem to make any difference to them anyway. The man finally blew the lamp out, and I settled down enough to start chewing my cud again thinking that the night would finally begin to be something like normal. Little did I know.
It wasn't one hour later that I heard a cry like a lamb makes when it gets lost from its mother. I could not believe it; on came the light, and Sara was wrapping something in a long cloth. The other girl was now lying down, but she seemed to be feeling better as she smiled up at them. All of us animals were watching as Sara laid the bundle in the young girl's arms. As she did it, I heard the man say, "It's a boy, Mary," and she replied, "I knew, Joseph." I remember saying to myself, "Double W, that can't be a baby," . . . but that's exactly what it was. She was holding a human baby!
Now, of all the types of humans I like babies the best. I even let Sara ride on my back when she was a real young girl, not that I really liked it though. The one born that night was very small, and when the light was just right, I noticed that he had a chubby red face. For some reason, despite myself, I couldn't help but feel nice things about that little baby boy.
I don't think that the baby's mother was very comfortable on the hay as she soon sat up and just smiled down at that baby like maybe something special was occurring. Now, I'm not very smart, I mean, babies are born every day; however, sometimes I just feel for things even though I don't understand at all. That is what happened that night. There was something different about that baby boy. Why, I didn't even fuss when Mary brought him over and softly laid him in my manger! It had a lot of hay in it, and with the warm little blankets around him he appeared to be very cozy. He looked so sweet lying there I leaned over the manger and took a big lick right up his cheek to his ear. He just got real quiet, and I knew he must like to be loved.
I remember thinking that all of the animals now were quiet—very, very quiet. It was almost an eerie feeling. Maybe they were just tired from all the carrying on. Anyway, I listened as Mary started softly singing to the baby, and this made all of us relax. It wasn't so bad having these humans around after all. In fact, I almost went to sleep; maybe I did because the next thing I knew, there was a great racket outside the stable door. Joseph went to the door, and as though we hadn't had enough already, in crowded a group of men carrying long sticks which are used to herd sheep around on the hillsides. I have often seen these sheepherders when they were bringing their helpless sheep into town through my pasture. These men were excited and they started running up to the manger where the baby was and back out the door, then bringing in other people. The place soon became a mess. Humans were everywhere milling around in the crowded stable like an anthill that has just been stomped on. A tired-looking Apsafar came running and stopped over to one side of the manger with a surprised look on his face. I heard him say, "Cousin Joseph! What in the world is going on here?" And Joseph replied, "I don't exactly know, Apsafar, but I think we better leave things alone; these people say an angel told them to come and see our baby—that this is the Christ child!" Now, my tired brain wasn't working real well at that point, and I didn't know what Joseph was talking about, but I do remember the amazed look on Apsafar's face. He just stood there with his mouth open staring down at the baby.
At one time there the stable was so crowded that in order for one short man to see the baby, he had to come into my stall. Roughly shoving me over, he peered excitedly down at the baby. Now, I don't know about you, but most cows I am acquainted with don't really appreciate being pushed around. After all, he was in my stall. So, after he had been there awhile, I slowly moved over, closer and closer . . . and suddenly stepped on his little toe. O the noise he made getting out of my stall. He didn't come back in again either. As I saw him pouting, I said to myself, I said, "Double W, that wasn't very nice, you know." I looked over at Sunisa and she had a frown on her face. That's one of those things for which she didn't approve, I knew. But nobody ever accused a cow of bring nice. We cows have feelings too, and we sometimes use drastic measures to get our way.
Through all of this noise and commotion Mary just sat there looking at our baby with a thoughtful look on her face. She would sometimes pick him up and show him to someone a sheepherder had brought in, but she always carefully returned him to my manger.
After a couple of hours, the excitement of all this wore off for me. I began to get frustrated again. Since Apsafar knows me well, I think he noticed my frustration because he and Joseph started pleading with the sheepherders to leave and go back to their flocks of sheep in the hills. Finally, about daybreak the last of them did leave. I heard them singing and shouting as they came around the side of the stable. They were still making a lot of noise when they went over the rise at the end of my pasture.
I have always had a hard time understanding humans. On this night I think you can easily see that they were impossible. Imagine getting so excited over a new born baby. Why, I've had nine babies, and while they were probably the prettiest babies that you could ever want to see, only Sara came especially to see any of them when they were born. And now, all of this fuss over one small baby boy. It sure was difficult to understand.
I know that you are having a hard time believing all of this, so I'll turn you back over to Sunisa.
That was a bit of a crude way to tell this part of the story, but Wolley Woc insisted that she knew it best, and I'm sure that you understand a lot better than you did about the fantastic things that happened that night. It really did seem that that baby was born to cause commotion.
Fortunately, the next morning Apsafar found a place in the house for the baby, Mary, and Joseph. Oddly enough, and I must be honest with you, I felt a little lonely when the baby was taken from our stable, even though it was kind of nice to have a good night's sleep for awhile.
This next part of this story I can't vouch for myself, and I'm going to tell you the story just as Erama told me. She said not to change it in any way as it happened exactly like this. So, I'll even use her words exactly. You do have to remember that she was a little old at the time and didn't always remember everything very well, so take that into consideration as it is being told, but you'll have to admit, it makes an interesting story.
Erama and the Trip to the Temple
Sunisa wants me ta tell you folks about a most ramarkable trip I took ta the temple over in Jayruslem I guess I musta gone on that trip, oh, a million times with Apsafar and others, but never did it turn out like it did on that day. Mary, who was just a whisp of a thing, rode up on ta my back just a carryin' that new baby—you know, the one that was aborn in Wolley Woc's manger—and Joseph, wal, he just walked aside me. I tried ta move soft and easy because these were real nice folks, you know. Joseph was rough and had muscles all over, and he sure had a powerful deep voice. I remember how nice it was ahavin' him sing ta us as we walked the six miles in ta Jayruslem.
Wal, we went up ta the temple just like always, and Joseph, he tied me ta a tree just outside a the gate. It was a paticlar sunny day, and at that time of the year there warn't much bugs and flies, so I thought mebby I might get a little nap. But, almost a'soon as the three of them went in ta the temple, a long tall feller in a flowin' white robe went past me like mebby the place was about ta close . . . his robe just aflyin'.
Wal, I'm supposin' you cain't imagine about bein' hitched up ta a tree with a lot a ol' donkeys around, but a grey mare does't have much ta do ther, you know, so I watched this here young feller as he was a hurryin' through that gate and on insides. A couple minutes later out he come on ta the porch, that flowin' white robe still a flyin', and now he was a carryin' somethin' in his arms. You guessed it; he was a showin' are baby ta everyone who'd take the time ta look. He was quite a'ways away so I couldn't hear real good, but I did hear him talk right up and say a real strange thing ta one feller. He says, "This is Jesus who is our salvation." And one time he held are baby up high in the air and was a lookin' right up ta the sky and said, "Lord, I'm ready to die because I have seen your salvation." This seemed ta cause a lot a mumblin' by all them ther people on the porch as the man in that white robe finally took the boy back insides. I had hardly had time ta digest all that when out come another person with are kid, an old woman this time, and slowly strolled around the porch. She was just a lookin' down so lovey at him. Who'd a thought that a little rascal like this could a caused such excitement and in the temple of all places.
For some reason this strange activity made me feel kinda young again, and I think that I musta been a little frisky goin' back home that evening because Joseph said with a laugh, "Hold Jesus tight Mary; Erama seems to be feeling her oats." Are baby now had a name; his name was Jesus!
When we all got back, I told everyone about what happened, but I don't think most of them was a believin' me. I want ta thank Sunisa, though, for lettin' me tell you folks this story. I'm not so good at story tellin' as she is.
Didn't Erama do a good job telling her story. She gets real nervous when she has to be in front of people, but she knew that you would want to hear about Jesus going to the temple.
The Friendly Camels from the East
After Erama had that experience at the temple, things got pretty much back to normal for a few months. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph stayed with Apsafar and Sophie, his wife, and their daughter Sara. Throughout the spring and summer Joseph, who was a carpenter, rebuilt and enlarged our stable which had been getting old. I was really happy when the roof over my stall was fixed, because it always leaked on rainy days.
But exciting times were not over, not by a long shot. One evening several months later, I was playing around with my mother as donkeys always do, when a man went running up the road beside the house shouting, "Look everybody, there's a bright light in the sky." I stuck my head out the window, and sure enough a light was shining out of the sky; it seemed to be pointing right at me. I don't know how you might have felt, but for a young donkey this was scary. A chill started at my head, shivered over my back, and right down my tail. Immediately I wondered if this was the beginning of another wild experience; it was!
Not five minutes later our stable door burst open and Apsafar came in leading, now get this, three camels! Apsafar didn't own any camels, and I had never seen one before in my young life, nor had I ever wanted to see one, but there they were as big as life. They even had to duck their heads to get in the door. Fortunately, Joseph had built several new stalls so none of us had to share the way we did that other wild night.
He put one of those beasts in the stall next to mother and me, and I was glad that Apsafar left the door open because camels don't always smell too good. I wanted to be friendly though (young donkeys are just that way), but I wasn't quite sure how to open a conversation with a camel. It isn't every day that you get a shaggy, three times bigger than you, slightly amused-looking camel staring squarely at you. You know how uneasy you feel when you see someone that doesn't look quite like everyone else. That's what camels are like—kind of odd looking. While I was trying to figure out what to say, he stuck his head over the rail into our stall and said pleasantly, "Herro." I don't know what you would have expected, but to have a camel looking squarely in your eyes, appearing so odd you wanted to laugh, and being friendly was certainly not what I expected. My experience is that odd looking things are usually unfriendly; maybe he didn't know or think that he was odd. Well, what could I do? I said "Herro", I mean "Hello" right back. Although I could barely understand him because of his accent, I finally made out that his name was Lee Mac, and that he had carried his master a long way to see a child. Here it was again . . . people anxious to see our little baby Jesus. He said that his master was rich and had brought gifts—gold, perfume, and incense. I didn't know what those things were, but from what I had seen, Joseph and Mary didn't have very much and could sure use some gifts.
During the next few days Lee Mac turned out to be a pretty good friend, odd yes, but a pretty good friend anyway. He didn't move very fast around the pasture making it easy to stay with him, and while he was there, I learned to appreciate him, even though he was quite different from those with whom I was around all the time. He told me all about his country, and said that I should come to visit him some time. Such talk sounded kind of scary, and I wasn't sure that I would want to do that, but we had fun talking about it.
Some days later Lee Mac's master came into the stable and got him and the other camels. They were going home. I was kind of sorry to see them go; you know how it is to have to say goodbye when you have made a good friend. However, it seemed like everyone enjoyed having these men with them because I heard laughter quite often coming from the house. I even heard Apsafar tell them to come back and stay at his house again sometime, but they said that they had come a long way and that they could not leave their study of the sky again. Everyone waved heartily as they left, and I saw Jesus start to toddle after them, but Joseph ran and picked him up before he fell down on the dirt road.
That night after Lee Mac and the others left, a most mysterious thing happened. About an hour before dawn Apsafar came out to the stable and got Elum from his stall. He put the blanket on the mule like he was going to go somewhere, and with it still being dark yet. Then he came over and got me! He led me outside and said to Joseph that I was old enough to take the trip. I was going to go on a trip! I had never been very far away from my mother, and I was a little bit afraid. However, I remember thinking that maybe this was going to be a job for me to do, and it made me feel good, even though I was leaving my mother. Soon, out of the house came Mary carrying Jesus, and Joseph boosted them up on Elum's back. As we were all going out the stable door, I heard Apsafar say to them, "Egypt is a long way to go, but I understand. If it was my child that was going to be killed, I would leave too. God bless you until we see each other again."
We were taking Jesus away! A chill suddenly came over me. Did Apsafar mean that somebody was trying to kill our baby? Who would do such a thing? Surely no one would ever kill a person who could cause the excitement that Jesus did.
I always try to keep my ears open in order to learn things, and over the next few days it came out as to why Jesus was being taken away. Joseph and Mary were taking him to Egypt because a king named Herod wanted to kill him. I can't imagine killing a little baby, but that is what they were saying.
Well, now you know this part of my story. For many of you this will be hard to understand—I know I've had a hard time and I was there—but it was just the beginning of a fantastic life I have had with Jesus.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Marriage is as old as the human race, a God-ordained bliss that happy couples wouldn't exchange for the world. However, in recent years, both the institution of marriage and the bliss seem to be going out of style—the institution because of a secularization of the marriage mores and the bliss because of the theologizing of certain time-honored basic marriage myths. Perhaps this information will aid you in your questioning of some of these "facts" that have been taught to you by well-meaning but erring persons; even those included in this article should be questioned and studied before being accepted.
Marriage as our forefathers knew it is fighting for its existence, and it doesn't take much of a prognostication to foresee that the planners of our lives in this world want marriage to be a temporary arrangement for convenience. A young person growing up in America gets little positive marriage input from the world's mismarriage managers, and our culture doesn't provide a good system for helping a young person select a life's mate. For many, choosing that person is an impossible task because they have had no relevant training. Such a young person often gives up without finding the "right" mate "because it is impossible anyway." This defeatist posture is met with daily by those working with marriageable persons.
Our churches and Christian training should make it easier for the Christian young person to select a mate and have a happy marriage. While a successful marriage does come about more often inside the church environment, the young Christian couple that can cut through all of the myths of television, movies, school, pulpit, and even some Christian homes, and come out a winner in choosing a mate for life in the marriage game is blessed. Following are a discussion of ten of these myths that seem to cause grief in Christian marriage exploration today. Perhaps you can find yourself doing this type of thinking.
Myth 1. God Has One Certain Man/Woman Chosen for Each Woman/Man to Marry
That this would be a myth is a disappointing reality to some, especially those not wanting the responsibility of the commitment of choosing a mate. It even seems that the more serious Christian young person is more prone to fall prey to this myth than the nominal Christian. Not only does God not have one certain person for us to marry, He doesn't even require us to marry. For the very young this sometimes comes as a revelation. A friend of our family has a beautiful little girl, Melissa, who was talking to her mother and my wife about a young woman she knew who was getting married. In the course of the conversation Melissa casually mentioned that she also would have to get married. Her mother voiced the instant conjecture that she wouldn't have to get married, and Melissa was flabbergasted.
"I don't have to get married?"
"Well," the quick, anxious reply came back, "if you want to have children, you should get married."
"But I don't have to get married?"
"No, you don't have to get married."
The mother could have gone on to voice Paul's opinion in his Corinthian letter:
There are two major rationales for getting married. The first, and by far the most important, is that for some persons, marriage makes it easier to be and do what God wants them to be and do here on earth. The second follows this thinking but is sometimes hidden by all the other rationalities—to help continue the human race and to do it in a Christian environment. All those other motivations—love, sex, money, companionship, economics, everyone's doing it, getting a glorified housekeeper—whatever, must be secondary to our spiritual walk with the Lord. The entire thesis of this discourse could be summarized in the discernment of the following statement:
If you can't see how you can better serve God by marrying this person, then don't marry this person!
Be that as it may, Paul or no Paul, good advice or not, most young Christians think that they have the gift of marriage.
"So, who do I marry?"
"Well, I'll let God pick out my husband/wife," thinking, of course, that God will select the perfect person. Ben Tillett once wrote,
God help the man who won't marry until he finds the perfect woman and God help him more if he finds her.
It is this kind of imprudent reasoning that leads to a wife/husband irrationalizing a divorce the first time there is trouble, because "I didn't marry the right person in God's sight." We shouldn’t blame manmade predicaments on God. God gave us marriage to help us, not to cause us grief!
As you are contemplating marriage, use these thoughts in selecting those persons as possible marriage partners:
· I will pick out a dedicated Christian person that I can get along with, can talk to, and an sure that I can spend the rest of my days with and go after them.
· I will pick someone whom I as a husband can treat as Christ treats the Church, or, I as the wife will select a man whom I can treat as the Church is to treat Christ. (See Ephesians 5:21-33 [24-25])
Don't think too romantically about the relationship. Romance is for movies and television and makes for a wonderful evening (whether you are married or not), but don't think that you can substitute romance for spiritual love, the base of a Christian marriage. Think rationally; let your spirit (for Christians this is a part of the Spirit of God) rule your mind which in turn should always rule your emotions and actions rather than permitting your emotions to rule your thinking and actions.
Rationale: You as my potential mate are as much a child of God as I am, and so if we marry, I will allow you to be you and expect you to do the same with me.
It is important that you inform your potential mate as you develop this type of thinking, because he/she will almost always have what has become the traditional thinking taught to most persons from birth; understanding a mentality like you are developing will be impossible without much serious discussion. Furthermore, it will give you something to do mentally during those times together rather than the date turning into a physical-emotional event (or contest as is sometimes the result). Don't misunderstand this point; learning to know each other physically is part of the dating process, but in most relationships, the physical and emotional is overdone while the experiences involving the mental and spiritual is uncommon or even lacking completely. If that potential mate is only interested in the physical and emotional, you should run, not walk, to get away from him/her.
Corresponding Myth: Opposites attract.
Incompatibility is incompatible, period! Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should look for someone who is not like you in order to have a successful marriage. If you are not compatible before marriage, it's not likely that you will become compatible after marriage.
Myth 2. Marriage Is Made in Heaven
As we study the message of Jesus, it is easy for us to miss subtle scriptural nuances that become important only when pointed out to us or when we receive a revelation from God; such a scripture could be when the Master was asked the following:
Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
Jesus seemed to be at his best when asked questions possibly intended to trap Him. Immediately, he answered,
The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-30)
If we replace the words—physical for strength, emotional for heart, mental for mind, and spirit for soul—the passage seems to make more sense to a modern person. You must love Him with all your physical makeup, emotions, mental capacities, and spirit. Not only is Jesus saying that we must love with everything that makes up our self, He is saying there is a difference between the makeup of self. Therefore, we must learn what happens in these different parts of the self. Consider this as a whole self:
Spirit/spirit—God, true love, heaven, soul, joy, peace,
Mental—learning, teaching, "loving," etc.
Emotional—feelings such as happiness, anger, joy, peace, "love," etc.
Physical—actions such as sleep, eat, sex, "love," etc.
True (real) love is "made" in heaven (God’s Spirit into our spirit) (I John 4:8; God is love!); marriage unions are made on earth (physical, emotional, and mental). In heaven there is no marriage (Matthew 22:30). When two people truly become "one" in marriage (Ephesians 5:28, 31), it means that they are one in the love that is Christ within persons here on earth. The closest we can come to being one physically and emotionally is sexual intercourse, and that is a poor but pleasurably fleeting experience, about all the world has to offer. This helps to explain why there is so much trouble with many worldly marriages. All physical experiences are fleeting. Emotional adventures or ordeals are also transient but can spontaneously return. Mental learnings generally stay with us throughout life, but are lost in death. Our spirits can live forever as a part of the Spirit of God (Colossians 3:1-4). (See Contemplations for a more thorough discussion.)
It is through our spirits then that we should be married which is only possible if both persons are committed to the same things in life and are permitting the
Spirit to make us one. Consequently, marrying a person who does not have the same commitment as you nullifies this principle.
Consider: Do I feel free to pray and be my spiritual, real self with and in this person?
If you do not have this freedom in Christ with your potential marriage mate, it is a sure sign that trouble is ahead.
Myth 3. A Person Falls In Love
A old popular song features the line, "Only fools fall in love". The world means by this that a person can be hurt by falling in love with someone; therefore, a person is a fool if he/she allows himself/herself to be hurt by falling in love. The world falls in love physically and emotionally and is thus hurt when a relationship falls apart, but a person cannot be hurt when they grow into love through the spirit. They may allow themselves to be hurt by the physical behavior of the person that they love, but growing into love is following the dictates of Jesus, and we can never be hurt by doing that. (I Corinthians 13) I have been told many times by a sobbing young woman or man that they were through with love because someone they loved "hurt" them. This was physical love (worldly love) because a person cannot be hurt by true love.
If a person falls in love, he/she can just as easily fall out of love. Worldly falling in love is physically, emotionally, and mentally oriented; true love is spiritual.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.... No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (I John 4:7-8, 11)
John is saying that we should love our selves in to love. It really makes no difference whether it is with a marriage mate or a friend mate; the love is the same. And how do we practice this love in selecting a mate? We start by telling ourselves rational things rather than untruths. Such defeating untruths could include the following:
· "I can't live without her/him."
· "I will never find another person to marry me."
· "Being married to him/her will make me happy."
· "We can live on love."
These and many other inventions of the mind (lies) that we say to our selves are all irrational statements with which we sometimes try to fool ourselves. So, how does a person be rational about this process? We as Christians have a fantastic "magic" to rely on, true love.
Consider the following:
Corresponding Myth: If a person is truly in love, he/she doesn't need to say "I love you" to his/her mate.
Saying I love you (and understanding the true meaning behind it) is fantastically therapeutic both for the doer and for the recipient and should be used wisely but often. You might ask, “How do I know when to use it?” I might answer, “When God tells you to." but that probably would be considered a cop out. Why don't we just say to use it every time you mean it? "But I don't know when I mean it?" You mean something when you decide you mean it, not because of some outside influence (the action of another person, for instance). For most couples, saying "I love you" is an emotionally and/or physically produced fabrication. While there usually is nothing wrong with this, a person should know when and why he/she is saying "I love you" and understand the magic behind it. In your mind substitute God for your love (I John 4:8 and 4:16). Can you see and be God-like with and to this person? Does the relationship still have meaning using this concept? If not, it probably means that you should consider another person for your potential marriage partner.
Myth 4. A Person Cannot Be Happy If There Is Trouble in the Relationship
We will define "trouble" as anything outside of physical abuse that interferes with a relationship. Physical abuse is in another category and is not dealt with here. Suffice it to say that if a potential mate physically abuses you in any way, drop him/her immediately!
In any relationship there is bound to be some frustrations, and this paradox is especially true as the love-developing union strengthens. Some persons shift alliances every time they have these frustrations and then wonder why they can't find somebody to love them. Understanding yourself and why you react to something as you do may help in the process of courtship and marriage.
A potential normal frustration that is not always recognized as such is the intensifying sexual tension over time as two couples grow closer and closer. For Christians the dilemma associated with this tension often blends freely with guilt. It is only normal for young people to want sexual experiences. It is abnormal not to be able to control these sexual urges. Each couple must learn to control themselves in their own way, understanding the frustration levels of each other and rightly dividing the word of God respecting the scriptures about immorality.
Knowing then that there will be frustrations, what can a person do to help themselves with these frustrations? Many persons will have a problem accepting for themselves the truth in the following statement:
A person makes him/herself happy or unhappy, satisfied or unsatisfied, or you might say it thusly, I happy or unhappy myself.
When we study the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) the truth of our happying ourselves jumps out of the scriptures. In these passages Jesus put a premium on spiritual things to help persons happy themselves. Those who are poor (humble) in spirit, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness are the persons who will be blessed with happiness. Interpreting these virtues, we might say that happy persons are those who exhibit the following: showing a consciousness of spiritual need; not seeking comfort in this world's enjoyment but being serious and sober about seeking God in his/her life; having humble, gentle, trustful natures accepting God's will rather than asserting personal rights as a human being; wanting more than ever to be conformed in all things to the will of God; showing sympathetic and empathetic actions to others in need; opening his/her spirits to God alone; being peacemakers—those quieting fires of anger, harmonizing contrariety, working to bring friends, neighbors, family, social groups, fellow workers, and nations together. Ironically, there are times when a person will be persecuted for exhibiting these qualities, but Jesus said you can then be happy because the rewards will be tremendous! The case in point here is a happy marriage.
All of these things are things you do to happy yourself. Nobody else outside of you can make you happy (or unhappy); you do it yourself.
Jane goes out with Donald and finds that she comes home from the date extremely excited and happy. She presumes that Donald will call the next day, but he does not. As the week goes on he does not call, and she becomes increasingly unhappy. How is Donald making her unhappy? He is not even there! She is making herself unhappy and blaming Donald.
If you have a frustrating event in your life, say that special friend decides that he/she wants to date other persons, how do you accept such an eventuality? If you are like the great majority of young people, it will make you feel sad and unhappy. "The fact that he/she wants to date somebody else is making me sad! Right?" Wrong! When you have a frustrating event in your life, you have learned that you are supposed to feel sad whenever somebody treats you in this way. You tell yourself (and you believe) that the person who broke up with you (or the fact that he/she broke up) is the problem that caused the unhappiness (anger, depression, fear or worry). Practice telling your self that you don't have to be unhappy. Make rational declarations to your self such as the following:
· I am making myself unhappy.
· This is not a catastrophe.
· A potential mate can't make me unhappy (or happy for that matter).
· I don't have to have him/her as a marriage partner.
· There are a lot of other good men/women out there who will make better mates than her/him.
Frustrations alone in the relationship should not cause you to despair of ever finding a potential mate. However, it may be something that you must work on in your life. A good way to judge whether this is true is to look at your association with persons outside of the courtship relationship. If you have the same frustrations with other people, it probably is not the potential mate at all; it is you, and something you will have to work on before you will find happiness in a marriage. Jealousy, the art of exhibiting an inferiority complex, is often involved in this struggle. However, you may decide that the problem is with your intended, and you don't want to be constantly under the stress of practicing these magic methods of controlling your self with him/her. Sometimes you want to be happy, just because! And, your potential mate should provide the environment and atmosphere to help you be the happy person you want to be. If he/she can't (or won't) provide this kind of environment, it's time to look for someone else. Constantly having to struggle to make yourself happy with a person is a sign that you don't want to spend the rest of your life with this person!
Myth 5. You Can Change the Actions of Your Mate After You Marry Him/Her
It is best to not even consider a person as a possible marriage partner if you think you are going to have to change him/her after you are married. Change will occur, but it probably won’t be because of you.
A major consideration is marrying some outside of your faith. For a Christian, there is scripture to help in this (II Co 6:14-18). It only follows that you should not even consider a non-Christian as a possible date. If you never date a person, the risk of marrying him/her is highly unlikely. Therefore, persons should date and then marry other persons of their faith. Furthermore, since it is basic Christian nature for us to strive to please our Lord, and since our potential mate is also serving the Lord, why would we feel the need to try to change him/her? You should only consider helping a person change (whether it is your mate or some other friend) if change is his/her desire in order to be a better divine servant. When approached in this manner, the helper is usually surprised at how much assistance he/she can be because most persons really want to change but retaliate when another tries to change them unilaterally. A person can only change him/herself; you cannot change her/him.
Consider: I will accept him/her just as she/he is right now no matter what might happen in the future!
If you cannot accept him/her as is, using rational thinking (saying honest things to yourself), start looking for another potential marriage partner.
The person you marry will change during the marriage, and some of it will be because of love for you. However, it cannot be externally directed, and you can only trust and pray that it will be a change for the better.
Myth 6. We Are Completely Compatible
Most couples contemplating marriage feel that they are compatible. I have heard the "we are compatible" line so many times I just expect it when a young couple anticipating marriage talks to me. What they often mean is that they talk about "everything"—sex, how many children they want to have, how happy, satisfied, relieved they will be after marriage, where they want to live, etc. The problem with this is that everything only includes what each one knows and that is usually seriously lacking. Furthermore, most young people only talk about things with which they agree, and this is only natural. You want to please that potential mate, and if you say something for which the other shows a dislike, you will unconsciously try not to mention it again.
In order to better understand how much you do know about each other, it is usually of benefit to take a compatibility test. This is an instrument used by many ministers and counselors to help young couples in recognizing differences in thinking. Some of the better tests have been normalized through many administrations, and it often is an amazing revelation to couples at the things revealed about differences in thinking.
Included below are a few ways-of-thinking items that may pique your interest in learning potential differences between you and that intended. There is absolutely nothing scientific about this test; however, it may indicate to you areas that need more dialogue toward the importance of compatibility. On some of the items you may be tempted to hide your feelings or even be untruthful about your perceptions. Often this is the very area where there could tend to be problems.
It might be better to answer the questions separately and then discuss them. Some may want to read each question together and then discuss that question by itself. However you do it, be sure to voice your true feelings. Honesty is the best policy, and it is especially true when discussing questions such as these. Allow digressions in your discussion; they often lead to the real problem. Have an understanding before you start that you will listen to the explanation of the other with no arguments or pity. Be prepared to change your perceptions! And don't be surprised if he/she thinks of you in a way quite different from the way you think of yourself.
Religiously, I believe _______________ (open end).
We should attend the _______________ church.
We should attend about _____ hours a month.
We should tithe ____ (%) of our income.
We should have most of our good friends from our church (true/false).
We should have good friends (male or female) outside the marriage (true/false).
We should socialize about ____ times a week.
My favorite form of entertainment is _______________.
We should have a date away from the children ____ times a month.
We should take vacation ____ days a year.
We should spend ____ (%) of our yearly income on socializing/entertainment.
My ultimate career goal is to be a ______________.
I think I will need to spend about ____ hours/week at my job.
Women should have a job and help with the income or women should make their career as homemakers.
Housework, Cooking, Yard Work:
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the housework.
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the cooking.
I believe that I should do ____ (%) of the yard work.
We should go out to eat as a family ____ times a week.
I want ____ (#) children in our family.
Women should do most of the raising of the children (true/false).
Children are a gift from God (true/false).
Children should be quiet unless spoken to (true/false).
I believe a child should be punished by ______________ (spanking, scolding, talking to, etc.).
I consider myself to be a _____________________ (moderate, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, etc.).
I believe we should pay no more than ____ (%) of our income in taxes.
Voting is an obligation and duty as a citizen of the United States (true/false).
I worry ____________ about environmental issues.
I am a money _______________ (hoarder, spender, etc.)
I think _______ (wife/husband) should pay the bills and control the money.
I think we can pay out _____ (%) of our income for debt.
We should spend ____ (%) of our income on insurance.
We should spend ____ (%) of our income on things we want (as opposed to things we need).
My life-style (values/morality. etc) can be best described in the following word ___________.
I will be a user of tobacco (true/false).
I will probably have about ____ alcoholic drinks a week.
I think a person should have ____ days a month completely for themselves away from the family.
I consider myself to be _______________ (frigid, easily aroused, etc.).
Married couples should have intimate relations about ____ times a week.
A man/woman should never be alone with a person of the opposite sex (true/false).
I have viewed pornography _____ times in my life.
I am a(n) _____________ (atheist, agnostic, Christian, etc.)
I am ______________ (weak, average, strong, fanatical, etc.) in my beliefs.
I pray about ____ times a week.
I think about spiritual things about _____ a day/week.
I feel that the level of my mentality is _______________ (below, average, above, extremely high, etc.).
I will want to read ____ books/magazines per week taking up ____ hours per week.
I consider learning of _____________ (no, little, high, extreme, etc.) importance.
I intend to take ____ years of college after we are married.
I am happy about _____ (%) of the time.
I am angry about _____ times each day.
I am depressed ________ (most, a little, etc.) of each week.
I feel fearful ___________ (sometimes, never, most of the time, etc.).
How closely do your feelings and perceptions match? If they are far apart in some of the orientations, agreement needs to be sought before you decide that this is the one. You decide which of them is of most importance to your being able to take for a lifetime. Talk in depth about the areas in which you are far apart. It makes a difference in the type of person we choose as to what we expect him/her to do and be after the marriage. For instance. if a male feels that his mate should stay home and take care of the house and children, then he shouldn't look at possible mates who are studying for a lifetime profession. It is unlikely for such a person to want to give up her career, and there is nothing wrong with that. It may turn out that you are not as compatible as you thought. Don't be afraid to say, "I had better look further." It may save you from a life of misery.
Myth 7. There Are Actions for Which a Spouse Could Never Be Forgiven
What might that be? Leaving? Lying? Infidelity? Murder? Adultery? I once heard a Christian woman say that she would kill her husband if she ever found him in bed with another woman.
For if you forgive men [or women] when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15).
I like to think of this scripture as a direct addendum to the Lord's Prayer since it appears along with it. “But,” you might say, “surely there is something that can't be forgiven?” Jesus said in Mark 3: 28 that any sin of man can be forgiven; it a sin against the Holy Spirit that is not forgiven.
Consider: Will God forgive him/her for what she/he has done?
If the answer to this question is yes (and it must be since neither of you are the Holy Spirit), then it follows:
I will forgive too!
Even though there are biblical grounds for divorce (Matthew 5:31; 19:1-12; Luke 16:18 [?]), as you are looking for a marriage mate
Think (and mean it): There are no grounds for divorce!
Don't go into a marriage thinking there is a way to get out of it. If you do, a seriously weak link has already developed in the bond. The first time trouble shows itself, divorce is thought to be the answer. It is not an answer! It is only a way out. When your special person drives you up a wall with some unbelievable behavior, try this:
Think: I don't have to have my way just because I'm right.
Think: Everybody has the right to be wrong.
Think: He/she is not a bad person; her/his behavior is bad.
If these are impossible statements about him/her, don't go into the marriage. You must be able to
Think: No matter what he/she does, I will stick with her/him.
Myth 8. Sex Is the Most Important Part of Marriage
During discussions with marriage age young people, I sometimes ask this question: "Why do you want to get married?" Invariably, one of the major "reasons" is sex. Before marriage it is only natural to visualize how nice it would be to be able to have sexual relations any time desired as a couple is able to do after marriage. Since a great deal of sex desire is a learned response and since the hormones are running high in the teen aged and early twenties years, probably as high as or higher than ever again, controlling one's self is a perplexing task. It also is one which adults have a hard time understanding because sexual urges seem to lessen in persons as they age (some right after marriage).
There is an additional problem that besets the modern young person—the onset of sexual development is several years earlier than it was 100 years ago when much of our social mores of today were being developed. Thus, a young couple of the early 1800's would have had less time to "burn with lust" before marriage would occur. This means that in some cultures couples were getting married just after the man had his first sexual emission and the woman had her first menstrual period. Today, the average couple usually waits until their early before getting married and the age differential is widening.
The worldly way to solve this problem is developing living-together arrangements, one night stands, and marriage for convenience; these all lead to divorce. Christian couples, from the statistics that I have been able to gather, are also not handling this crisis well. They are often told by well-meaning but misleading mature church leaders that anything they do to satisfy these urges results in sin. Guilt is the natural result. I remember one young lady who sat quietly sobbing in my office because her boyfriend always became visibly aroused when she was around. Instead of her accepting this as natural, she believed her mother who had told her that she was sinning if she aroused a man. When I explained to her that it seemed to be pretty normal to me, she said emphatically that it never happened to her dad!
One of the biggest mistakes that a couple can make is to get married because of guilt, guilt of any kind. Not that a guilt ladened marriage can't make it if both of them work at it. As a matter of fact, if the facts were known, probably a great number of your parent's Christian marriages were conceived on guilt. A great number of them worked, but such a marriage has great potential problems to overcome.
Much of sex is physical with some emotional, directed by the mental; a good marriage is a combination of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual with the most "unreal" and most unimportant to the most "real" and most important going from physical to spiritual. We should always allow our spiritual to rule our mental which should be in charge of our emotions and physical actions. Paul understood how difficult this is.
But if you can't control yourselves, go ahead and marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust. (I Corinthians 7:6-9)
Most Christian young people that I have been acquainted with are "burning with lust" long before they are ready for marriage.
Ask yourself: Is physical and emotional all there is to it with this fellow/gal?
If your answer is "yes" or even "I'm not sure," it's time to look for another person. You must be able to share the spirit for a relationship to be whole.
Myth 9. A Good Marriage Never Has Arguments
Since a couple is two physical beings (each a part of this world) as well as spiritual beings, behaviors will reflect our part of this world occasionally resulting in frustrations. Such differences of opinion can result in arguments and arguments sometimes lead to anger.
Anger is the greatest single cause for problems in a relationship. However, if we understand our anger, it can be controlled. Most persons are "triggered" into angering themselves by something done by someone, and then the anger is blamed on that other someone (or something).
To help us understand anger, let's look at the steps usually taken in making ourselves angry.
1. I want something.
2. I didn't get what I want and I'm frustrated.
3. It is awful and terrible not to get what I want.
4. You shouldn't frustrate me. I must have my way.
5. You are bad for frustrating me.
6. Bad people must be punished.
A synopsis might be as follows: A "friend" lies about you and your special potential mate; friend says that you had sex relations when you went out at one time. It makes you very frustrated. You feel that this is about the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Why would friend do such a thing? You’ll show friend. Friend works for your uncle, so you get him fired from his job.
What happened? For the Christian it is a fairly natural, but irrational feeling to want everybody to love you (1). When you find out friend doesn't by telling a lie about you, you are frustrated (2). These are basic feelings that don't produce anger. Anger actually begins when we start catastrophising by telling ourselves that it is awful when we don't get our own way (telling ourselves a lie) (3). As rational (true) statements can't produce anger, statements 1 and 2 can't make you angry. If we go on to the final two steps, it often calls for action that is not Christian by its very nature (punishing bad friend by getting him/her fired).
I purposely did not use an example of problems that couples have with each other (although I suppose the example could apply to couples) because I want you to select your own example. What angers you about your potential mate? Selecting that mate is hard enough without wearing yourself out being repeatedly frustrated and/or angry in the relationship.
If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly! (Ephesians 4:26)
Peter had his own way of giving us advice in this.
Don't repay evil for evil. Don't snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God's help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it. (I Peter 3:9)
Think thusly: I make myself angry; therefore, since I control my own anger, I can make myself un-angry.
You are the only one who can control your anger because you make yourself angry, not the other person; control it, forgive him/her, ask for forgiveness, and go to sleep.
Think: I'm going to forgive him/her sometime (for a few it might read someday), why not forgive right now!
Don't worry about what the other person does when you forgive. If he/she doesn't accept, that is his/her problem. Read that scripture from Ephesians again; can't you read that into it?
Counterpart Myth: Being in love means not having to say "I'm sorry".
A key to a successful marriage is learning to "argue" without being angry. By stopping with frustration in our anger steps and staying rational, there probably will not be problems, but sometimes we become irrational, and irrationality can lead to punishing each other (cold shoulder, screaming, withholding love, etc.). We say to ourselves that bad people should be punished. (Parents you are close to probably do it; study their methods.) Learn to say "I'm sorry," and mean it without getting to the punishing stage. If this is hard (or you think even impossible) for you, just swallow your pride and try it anyway; it's magic!
I remember the first time I said I'm sorry and I was 18 years old! I was working in a supermarket for the stock manager named Tom Mix. Tom was told by management not to let anybody come in the back doors of the store. One day it was raining very hard. We had to park in the back so customers could park in the front. When I came to work I jumped out of the car and ran to the back door and banged on it until Tom opened it, just enough to look out. He would not open it further. Some very nasty things were said to Tom. I had to run around front in the driving rain and come in the front door. For days this incident haunted me. Just before I quit working there, I swallowed my pride and asked Tom to forgive me. I remember how surprised I was when he flashed a big smile and said, “O, that's alright." Additionally, I was even more surprised at how wonderful it made me feel for having done it.
However wrong or right it may be, there probably will be persons to whom we cannot say "I'm sorry." Such persons may be called "hookers" because they are able to hook our frustrations. For these hookers it is better for us to just leave them alone (unless we want to practice talking ourselves out of anger). It becomes a serious matter when the boss or a relative is a hooker. It is an impossible situation when you choose a mate that is also one of your hookers.
If you can't say "I'm sorry" to a potential mate or if he/she cannot (or will not) forgive you for your "misbehaviors," you need to look further.
Myth 10. What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander
Looking at the way some couples get along, I can't tell which is the goose and which is the gander. It is like a tennis game—one does something “wrong” and knocks the ball into the other court and the other must get back at them by knocking it back into the other court. This game becomes a way of life or even the marriage game itself for some. I once knew a woman who every time she had problems with her husband would go out and spend a lot of "his" money. He would then scream at her when the bills came in and out she would go again.
Recognizing this in a potential mate is difficult as he/she will usually be on constant good behavior. However, a few negative adjectives of which we can look for might be in order. Sullenness, petulance, tetchiness, jealousy, covetousness, and suspicion, even on a temporary basis, are warning signs that can say, “Do I want to have this as part of my marriage?” On the other hand, look for love, joy, peace, gentleness, long suffering, and kindness; there can never be enough of these traits. Almost always, what you see before marriage is what you get after marriage, magnified.
There are other myths that you will meet as you live your life with your mate, but these will cover the major ones as you contemplate marriage. Marriage can be a most wonderful thing in your life, but it also can be the most frustrating thing in your life. Only you can decide which way you will go.
I pray for you a blissful marriage with overwhelming happiness.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
So that the yearly results may be compared, I rate each one giving it a numerical rating, and then average the nine numbers.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like . . . they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Above is listed the "fruit" or works of a sinful life and the fruit or "works" of living a spiritual life. Note that there are only two categories--works of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit. If we are Christians, we have the use of the Spirit in our lives. Understanding that if we are not a part of the fruit of the Spirit, we are a part of the works of the flesh, we want to be more and more a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Since we can't physically see, taste, feel, hear, or smell the Spirit, we must look for the results of the Spirit in our lives. Who are you in the Spirit? Although there is no scientific way to measure the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we might make each of the "fruits" listed by Paul a verb and then see how much we "use" that fruit. Using that criterion, where do you stand as far as each of these "fruits" is concerned? Realizing as we do it that the fruit is not verbs and that a spiritual life is all of the fruit together as a whole, for each of them say to yourself, "How much of the Spirit's Love am I being in my life?" And then go to Joy. And then Peace, etc. For each fruit write a sentence as to how well you are doing. If you would like, you can rate yourself on the continuum below. You can then, a year from now (or sometime in the future), rate yourself again to see your progress.
How much of the Spirit's ______ am I being in my life?
Saturday, December 2, 2006
I would be especially pleased to hear from any persons from my past. Some names that stand out are Kenny Shirfic, Ronny Emmons, and Harold Steen, from Washington, Indiana in the 1940s; anybody from the Park Place Church of God, Anderson, Indiana youth group of the 50s; anybody who worked in the photo lab at the Lincoln Air Force Base from 1957-1960 (Dick Roach, are you still ticking?); Terry Thomas, Bill Drummond, Neil Kenny, Raul Rehrer, and others from the University of Miami Marine Lab and Cookie Kruglinski, editor of the University of Miami Ibis in the early 60s; friends from the Kendall, Florida Church of God during the 1960s; singers from the New Way Singers during to 70s and 80s; former students from University of Miami, Warner Southern College, and Hope International University; and University of Florida education school fellow students of the early 80s. (Mule from LIBCI and any others from LIBCI, you know who you are; I’d really like to hear from you.) If you knew me, send me an email. I will answer most emails and publish some if you so desire. Positive reactions, illuminations, or elucidations are welcome; negative condemnation, censure, and attack, even though deserved, are discouraged.