Thursday, December 29, 2016

Social Influence and the Effectiveness of Countermeasures

Child abuse and drug abuse are repeated generation after generation. This behavior is passed down from parent to child and duplicated over and again. Firm countermeasures are imperative to stop the cycle.

Continue reading this paper below.

Social Influence in Relationships and the Importance of Countermeasures by Brook Elaine on Scribd

Monday, December 12, 2016

Movie Mondays: Baking with Kids

It is Monday, again, and that means it is "Movie Monday" time!!! This time I am baking with my kiddos!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Desiring God: Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse

In observance of the upcoming 14 year anniversary of the murder of Laci Rocha Peterson, at the hands of her husband, and baby Conner, at the hands of his father, I am posting the following from Desiring God Ministries and John Piper:

Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse

Several years ago, I was asked in an online Q&A, “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?”

One of the criticisms of my answer has been that I did not mention the recourse that a wife has to law enforcement for protection. So let me clarify with seven biblical observations.

1. Every Christian is called to submit to various authorities and to each other: children to parents (Ephesians 6:1), citizens to government (Romans 13:1), wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22), employees to employers (2 Thessalonians 3:10), church members to elders (Hebrews 13:17), all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21), all believers to Christ (Luke 6:46).

This puts the submission of wives and husbands into the wider context of submission to Jesus, to the civil authorities, to each other, and to the church. This means that the rightness or wrongness of any act of submission is discerned by taking into account all the relevant relationships. We are all responsible to Jesus first, and then, under him, to various other persons and offices. Discerning the path of love and obedience when two or more of these submissive relationships collide is a call to humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom.

2. Husbands are commanded, “Love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). They are told to “love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Ephesians 5:28–29). The focus of a husband’s Christlikeness in loving his wife is “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Christian husbands are not Christ. They are finite, fallible, forgiven sinners. They do not stand in the place of Christ. Their wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 11:6), not merely through their husbands. Husbands do not have the wisdom or the power or the rights of Christ. Their likeness to Christ in leading their wives is limited and focused by these words: He gave himself up for her . . . nourishing and cherishing . . . not harsh with them.

Therefore, an abusive husband is breaking God’s law. He is disobeying Christ. He is not to be indulged but disciplined by the church. The wife is not insubordinate to ask the church for help. A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church.

3. But recourse to civil authorities may be the right thing for an abused wife to do. Threatening or intentionally inflicting bodily harm against a spouse (or other family members) is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, punishable by fines, short-term imprisonment, or both. Which means that a husband who threatens and intentionally injures his wife is not only breaking God’s moral law, but also the state’s civil law. In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.

God himself has put law enforcement officers in place for the protection of the innocent. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries. This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

4. The church should not harbor an abusive man or woman whom the civil authorities would punish if they knew what the church knows. We are called to mercy. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). But there are times when mercy to one demands justice for another. This is often the case with criminal abuse. Moreover, there are many ways to show mercy toward a guilty person who must pay fines or go to jail. We are seldom in a position where the choice is simply mercy or no mercy.

5. For many women, the thought of a husband going to jail and losing his job and being publicly shamed is so undesirable that they often endure much sin before becoming desperate enough to turn to the authorities. What I want to stress is that long before they reach a point of desperation — or harm — the women of the church should know that there are spiritual men and women in the church that they can turn to for help. By way of caution and lament, I cannot promise that every church has such spiritual, gifted, and compassionate men and women available for help. But many do. The intervention of these mature brothers and sisters may bring the husband to repentance and reconciliation. Or they may determine that laws have been broken and the civil authorities should or must be notified. In either case, no Christian woman (or man) should have to face abuse alone.

6. When Jesus commands his disciples, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39), he is describing one way of love: the testimony that Jesus is so sufficient to me that I do not need revenge. This was the way Christ loved us at the end: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22–23).

But this is not the only path of love open to those who are persecuted. The Bible warrants fleeing. John Bunyan wrestled with these two strands in the Bible of how to deal with persecution:

He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Ex. 2:15; Moses stood, Heb. 11:27. David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12; David stood, 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11­–12; Jeremiah stood, 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10; Christ stood, John 18:1–8. Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33; Paul stood, Acts 20:22–23. . . .
Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word, Matt. 10:23. (Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, in The Works of John Bunyan, volume 2, page 726)
7. When the Bible says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27), it implies that Christians with means and strength take initiatives for the weaker. The “visitation” in this text is not for nothing. It is for help — for provision and protection. The point is: When Jesus commands his disciples, “Turn to him the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39), he does not mean that, if I can do something about it, I should allow you to be slapped again. Again, it is the camaraderie in the body of Christ that breaks the cycle of injustice.

My closing plea is to all Christian men, and in particular to the leaders of churches: Herald a beautiful vision of complementarian marriage that calls men to bear the responsibility not only for their own courage and gentleness but also for the gentleness of the other men as well. Make it part of the culture of manhood in the church that the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women.
(Piper, John. 2012, December. "Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse". Retrieved December 9, 2016 from Desiring God Ministries.)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

In Humility Count Others More Significant Than Yourselves

30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." (Luke 10:30-37. ESV.)

I posted a video, last month, of a boy, perhaps a preteen or teenager, who appeared to be homeless. He wore a ripped short sleeve shirt, no jacket, no shoes and held a garbage bag to keep warm. Visibly he is young, not an adult. The weather was five degrees Fahrenheit and this boy was clearly freezing. He was like the man who had been stripped and beaten on his way to Jericho.

Those in need, however, do not always look the part. There are people who are homeless, individuals who are fighting against cancer and chronic illness, human beings who live with a dangerous person in their life, people who live in an unsafe neighborhood, individuals who are physically stripped and beaten, or emotionally stripped and beaten, or verbally stripped and beaten…and yet, most of us may not be like the robbers…but are like the priest and Levite. We may not be the one “robbing” and “beating” others but we are also not stopping to help. We walk on the opposite side of the road as if with blinders on our eyes.

Though, I feel each of us has suffered at one time or another. Each of us knows the sting of being “robbed” and “beaten”. So then, where is our empathy and compassion? Why is our first instinct to ignore, to blame the “man who was beaten”, to assume, to jump to conclusions, to say, “Well, that will never happen to me,” or “I’m too busy,” and to pass by on the other side of the road?

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:35-40. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Monday, December 05, 2016

Movie Mondays: And So It Begins

Let's hang out for a few moments each week! Welcome to "Movie Mondays"!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Spiritual Warfare

Demons have a notorious way of acclimatizing to where they are, warns Tope Koleoso, pastor of Jubilee Church in London. And in secular Western society, this means playing right into our neglect and diminishing of the supernatural.

But Ephesians 6, and the rest of the Scriptures, would have us stay aware of the unseen realm, and remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). It is not Christian to suppress the supernatural.
(Desiring God Ministries. April 9, 2013.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Do We Have a Spirit That Can Exist Separate from Our Body?

This is a bit off topic from yesterday but my kiddos, or maybe it was just one of them, told me I should try making videos...or at least one video. Maybe they meant like a vlog or a Youtuber video. I don’t know, but I do know I am really not that great at it. Besides, I am a writer...not an artist, not an animator, not a cinematographer, etc. How would my videos go? I would not do an animated series nor would a video of just me talking be of any interest...boring! Not to mention… What in the world would I talk about? I’m just me. I have a blog which hardly anyone ever reads, I’m sure. I thoroughly enjoy writing however I do not have a book published or anything. I am not a professional athlete, nor an actor… Okay well, I am, or was, an athlete but not a professional one. I do enjoy doing theater work but I am not a celebrity or well known anything, really. I’m just me.

I blog about faith, God and Jesus, the bible, life, whatever I am studying at university at the time, parenting, travel, etc. And, people who do videos regularly have the proper equipment for it, like a professional microphone...though it is my understanding some Youtubers record the audio to their videos in a closet. Okay, maybe I’ll try that tip. I don’t even have a “hook”, something to get people interested in whatever it is I am going to say...which I still have not figured out.

Okay, back to yesterday’s topic.

When it comes to the “spirit” or “soul”, I use these terms interchangeably, I agree a person continues to exist after he or she dies. His or her spirit “departs” (Genesis 35:18) from his/her body. Scripture to support this is:

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
(Psalm 31:5. ESV.)

43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."...

46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.
(Luke 23:43 & 46. ESV.)

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59. ESV.)

23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (Philippians 1:23-24. ESV.)

8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8. ESV.)

23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23. ESV.)

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne….

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
(Revelation 6:9, 20:4. ESV.)

Matthew 10:28 states,
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Romans 8:16 states,
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

And, Acts 17:16 reads,
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.

In his book Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem states, “Scripture is very clear that we do have a soul that is distinct from our physical bodies, which not only can function somewhat independently of our ordinary thought processes (1 Corinthians 14:14; Romans 8:16), but also, when we die, is able to go on consciously acting and relating to God apart from our physical bodies.” (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI. 1994, 2000. P. 482.)
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. (1 Corinthians 14:14. ESV.)

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:16. ESV.)

Grudem goes on to say, “...there will be a time between our death and the day Christ returns when our spirits will temporarily exist apart from our physical bodies.” (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI. 1994, 2000. P. 483.)

Okay, so we have a spirit that can exist and relate to God apart from our physical body. My next research question is, what happens to the spirit after the body dies? Does it go straight to heaven? Does it sleep? Does it wander the earth? We shall see. To be continued...

(Photo Information.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Spirits Haunting Eight Mile Road, Stockton, CA

When I lived in Rio Vista, CA, from 2001 to 2012, we were just a short jaunt away from Stockton, CA and, the said to be haunted, Eight Mile Road. Infact, we often times traveled Eight Mile Road between 2001 and about 2003 or 2004. We generally stayed at the west end of the street and had no need to venture past the 99 freeway, heading east.

Recently, it has come to my attention there are stories circulating of three “spirits” causing havoc on Eight Mile Road east. According to some, there are two Native American “spirits”, one child and one woman, and one “lady in white” who seems to cause the most ruckus.

First, I want to be clear, I follow the bible’s view of “spiritual warfare”, “demons”, “angels”, etc. One article I read about Eight Mile Road showed illustrated pictures of each “spirit”. The Native American woman was represented as peaceful, maybe sad, and beautiful. The other two, the “lady in white” and the Native American child, were pictured with demonic faces. I do not know the background story of these two or why an artist would show them in such a way, other than the write up about how the “lady in white” startles drivers and could cause an accident. I believe it is fair to say other articles, shows, etc. might shed some more light on this.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12. ESV.)

As I was reading about David and King Saul in 1 Samuel, I came across a verse that mentions a woman calling on the spirit of Samuel and King Saul having a conversation with the spirit of Samuel. 1 Samuel 28:8-19 states,
8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, "Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you." 9 The woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?" 10 But Saul swore to her by the Lord, "As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." 11 Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" He said, "Bring up Samuel for me." 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul." 13 The king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a god coming up out of the earth." 14 He said to her, "What is his appearance?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Saul answered, "I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do." 16 And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines."
Further digging into this scripture is needed for me to have a better understanding of it.

The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost in Matthew 14:25-27 which states,
25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
And again in Luke 24:36-39 which states,
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

To continue on this topic, I will look to John Piper, maybe John MacArthur, and Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem to dig a little deeper and research a bit further. To be continued...

(Photo information.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Serving Others: The Social Experiment

Have you seen this? It is presented on Youtube as a social experiment. A boy, who says he was abandoned at seven years old, is placed in 5 degrees Fahrenheit conditions without shoes, a jacket, etc. The boy is left standing out in the cold and no one stops to talk to him or help him for two hours. In social psychology there is such a thing as the "bystander effect". This is "the effect in which an increased number of witnesses decreases the likelihood that someone will help another." (Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer. Thinking Critically About Social Psychology. 2016. Dubuque, IA. P. 126.) There is also "diffusion of responsibility", which is "the belief that other bystanders will/ should take responsibility for helping others in need" (Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer. Thinking Critically About Social Psychology. 2016. Dubuque, IA. P. 126.). These are only two of many possible reasons people might not have responded to the boy standing out in the cold.

After two hours, a man approaches the boy, starts talking to him, and offers him assistance. He takes off his own jacket and puts it around the boy. As the man continues talking, we find out he is homeless.

The homeless man knew what it felt like to be in the boy's situation. Even though he had next to nothing, he was willing to give to the boy whatever he could to keep him warm and fed.

Is it easier to help others with whom we can relate? If we have been in their shoes or a similar situation, does that make for kindred spirits? I am not entirely sure. I have actually seen things go both ways. On one hand, I have witnessed a relationship of two who understood each other. On the other, I have seen a relationship of one who perhaps feels he or she had to fight and make his or her own way and so should the other person. Does that make sense? Perhaps compassion or empathy plays a part in here, too, no matter what.

Or what if we concentrate on the part of the circumstance with which we can relate or feel compassion? I do not know what it feels like to be homeless, but I do know what it feels like to be cold. I do not know what it feels like to not be able to buy something to eat...I think the cheapest burger I ever found was under a dollar. But I do know what it feels like to be hungry.

How can we, as human beings, improve upon serving others?

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:35-40. ESV.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mental Illness Mentioned in God's Word

13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?" (1 Samuel 21:13-15. ESV.)

After coming across the verses above which clearly mention mental illness, I have been searching the scriptures further, looking for more. From what I have seen, though, most verses do not specifically acknowledge mental illness but rather address “those afflicted with various” things. Could those “afflictions” include mental illness?

24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. (Matthew 4:24. ESV.)

4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:4. ESV.)

2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. (3 John 1:2. ESV.)

1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:1-2. ESV.)

39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:39-40. ESV.)

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15. ESV.)

28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29 and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. (Deuteronomy 28:28-29. ESV.)

There are also verses that may allude to mental illness or that mention things such as anxiety like 1 Peter 5:7 which states,
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
But it is unclear if the verse is speaking of general anxiety or the type of anxiety that is sometimes included with a mental disorder. I, personally, feel 1 Peter 5:7 is addressing general anxiety that most of us experience. Then, there are verses that are vague and leave a person wondering what the author meant by it, entirely.

Further, in my search, I am not taking into consideration any “affliction” that sounds like a physical or medical disability or illness, spiritual warfare as found in Ephesians 6:12 which states,
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Or the casting out of demons such as found in Mark 9:14-29 (ESV) which reads,
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." 19 And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me."20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 And he said to them,"This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer."

And, then, there is King Nebuchadnezzar and his loss of “reason” as described in Daniel 4:28-34 (ESV),
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?" 31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will." 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.

34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,...
It looks to me, on this occasion, Nebuchadnezzar suffered some sort of mental illness.

I wish I could find a way to search the scriptures in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) so as to be more thorough. But, for now, I am going to comb over the Psalms of David since 1 Samuel 21 is an accounting of a season of his life. To be continued...

(Photo information: Bing Images Public Domain.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Wise and Discerning Wife

Abigail listened closely as a young man spoke to her. Her beauty radiated and her mind was knowledgeable. She was both attractive and understanding. The young man spoke with earnest. Perhaps he knew he could trust her and that she would act wisely.

The young man described the king’s son in law, David, who sent messengers to meet with Abigail’s husband, Nabal, a very rich man who was not inclined to share his wealth. The young man explained how her husband treated the messengers unkindly though David’s men had protected him, the husband’s shepherds, and livestock. He explained,
The men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. (1 Samuel 25:15-16. ESV.)

Abigail took in all that he said then asked, “Did my husband not understand to whom he was speaking?”

“I am certain he did yet his response to them was harsh and criticizing. He told them,
‘Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?’ (1 Samuel 25:10-11. ESV.)
“I am afraid he has made a terrible mistake! He is such a worthless man, that not one can speak to him and now he has brought harm against himself and all his house.” (1 Samuel 25:17)

Abigail knew this to be true and believed her husband to be a harsh and badly behaved man. She also found the situation he had created to be very serious. She wasted no time and went quickly to prepare an offering of goods fit for a king.
She took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. (1 Samuel 25:18. ESV.)
She sent all of this with her young men and followed behind. She did not, however, speak a word of it to her husband.

When Abigail met up with David she immediately got down from her donkey, fell to the ground, and bowed before him. She knew he was upset. He had said,
Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. (1 Samuel 25:21. ESV.)

Abigail answered,
On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. (1 Samuel 25:24-25. ESV.)
She explained how she did not see the king’s servants when they came but brought a present for all of them, now. “Please, forgive the trespass of your servant (1 Samuel 25:28),” she said.

David was thankful. Abigail, and her discretion, had saved him from having to shed blood and destroy all that belonged to Nabal because of his foolishness, harshness, and bad behavior. He took, from her hand, what she had brought him and said,
Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition. (1 Samuel 25:35. ESV.)

Abigail left him and went to find her husband. When she arrived she saw he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king (1 Samuel 25:36). He looked to be having a marvelous time, was very merry, and quite drunk. She decided it would best to wait until the morning before she told him what she had done. She left and waited for the morning light.

The next day, when his drunkenness had worn off, Abigail went to her husband. She told him about David and taking the two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep already prepared, five seahs of parched grain, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs to him as a gift. Her husband’s heart “died within him, and he became as a stone” (1 Samuel 25:37).

About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal , and he died (1 Samuel 25:38).

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said,
Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head. (1 Samuel 25:39. ESV.)

(Photo information: Bing Images Public Domain)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Theology and Psychology: Personality Disorders 101

Continuing a little bit with my post from yesterday, I am going to be discussing personality disorders. Well, actually, "Crash Course" is going to give a "crash course" on the subject:

Friday, November 11, 2016

God’s Word and Mental Illness

Being I focus on psychology, and law, quite a bit at school, they sometimes cross over into my study of God’s word. Is there mention of mental illness in the scriptures? Luke 8:2 mentions Mary Magdalene and seven demons that had “gone out” of her. Could that be a reference to mental illness? Or, is mental illness the answer we give now days in reference to individuals who are possessed by demons? Or, are the two completely unrelated?
2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, (Luke 8:2. ESV.)
1 Samuel 21:13-15 mentions David pretending to be “insane”. It says,
13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?"

When I looked up “mental illness” in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which I use as secondary authority to God’s word which is primary authority, I found the following explanation,
Yet we must remember that even fallen, sinful man has the status of being in God’s image. Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being in God’s image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God’s image-bearer. This has profound implications for our conduct toward others. It means that people of every race deserve equal dignity and rights. It means that elderly people, those seriously ill, the mentally retarded, and children yet unborn, deserve full protection and honor as human beings. If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life. (1994. Grand Rapids, MI. p. 450.)

Now, according to psychiatric medicine, there are all kinds of mental illness that range in behavior, treatment, etc. There are neurodevelopmental disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, bipolar and related disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, trauma - and stressor - related disorders, dissociative disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, feeding and eating disorders, elimination disorders, sleep-wake disorders, sexual dysfunctions, gender dysphoria, disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders, substance-related and addictive disorders, neurocognitive disorders, personality disorders, paraphilic disorders, other mental disorders, medication-induced movement disorders and other adverse effects of medication, and other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention (American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA. American Psychiatric Association. 2013.)

Some are not fans of psychiatric medicine, but I personally put some weight in it...or, at the very least, ask questions and search for answers. The body and brain are insanely complex and I believe we, as human beings, need answers to some pretty difficult questions that may be best explained by psychiatric medicine. I feel God, and His Son, gave us things to help us in our walk. He gave us His word, the Holy Spirit, authority, doctors, etc. He provided things to us so we can serve Him the best, possible. “Humans think in categories….Categories are essential for our daily functioning in the world.” (Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer. Thinking Critically About Social Psychology. Dubuque, IA. 2016. p.164.) Now, there are many reasons ranging from genetics, to diet, to environment, to upbringing/ childhood, to toxins, to brain damage, etc. to explain why someone might struggle with certain behaviors. Today, though, I am going to try and stay focused on mental illness and God’s word. As I research this, it looks as though there is quite a bit of debate about it.

The question that got me started with this research is, along the lines of, “Why are there many, if not most, behaviors that improve with implementing and following God’s word and instructions yet there are other behaviors that only get worse when God’s word is applied?” An example of this are certain personality disorders. When a follower of Christ interacts with and serves individuals afflicted with distinctive personality disorders, like sociopathy and psychopathy, the one struggling with the disorder becomes more aggressive and even violent which places the follower of Christ in danger. Side Note: First and foremost, I truly believe God can heal all things whether it is a physical illness or disability, like cancer, or a mental one.

An example in the bible that comes to mind when I think about the question above is when King Saul decided to kill David (1 Samuel 18-26).
10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, 'I will pin David to the wall.' But David evaded him twice…. (1 Samuel 18: 10-11. ESV.)

1 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, ‘Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself’…. (1 Samuel 19:1-2. ESV.)

6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, ‘As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.’ 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before…. (1 Samuel 19:6-7. ESV.)

9 Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night…. (1 Samuel 19:9-10. ESV.)

15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. (1 Samuel 23:15. ESV.)

25 And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. 26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.’ 28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi…. (1 Samuel 23:25-29. ESV.)

2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, ‘Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, “Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.”’ Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's robe…. (1 Samuel 24:2-4. ESV.)

8 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage…. (1 Samuel 24:8. ESV.)

10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed.' 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it…. (1 Samuel 24:10-11. ESV.)

2 So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, 4 David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come…. (1 Samuel: 26:2-4. ESV.)

17 Saul recognized David's voice and said, ‘Is this your voice, my son David?’ And David said, ‘It is my voice, my lord, O king.’ 18 And he said, ‘Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands?’... (1 Samuel 26:17-18. ESV.)

21 Then Saul said, ‘I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake’…. (1 Samuel 26:21. ESV.)

25 Then Saul said to David, ‘Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.’ So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place. (1 Samuel 26:25. ESV.)

In the above descriptions of events from the bible, it is clear to see King Saul is struggling with something. It is described as “a harmful spirit from God” but what is it, exactly? Is it jealousy? Pride? Or is it much worse than that? Is it a mental illness like psychopathy? And though David has done nothing to provoke the king, Saul is out to murder him. I want to take a moment here and focus on David. Here is a guy who loves Saul, dearly. He serves him well, is best friends with his son, and marries his daughter. He is family and has nothing but the highest regard for Saul. Yet, Saul sins against David and chases him into hiding. So, I believe it is fair to say, if you or someone you know is being threatened or harmed by a loved one, it is best to do as David did and get as far away from that individual as possible. Saul, who called David son on a couple different occasions, was like a father to David...and in fact became David’s father-in-law. Of those who are attacked and/or have a crime committed against them, MOST of them know their attacker/ the perpetrator. Get far away from the person who threatens and/or harms you and hide, even if they come after you as Saul did to David. It is far better to be safe than sorry and hopefully you, or the one in danger, will have a good friend like Jonathan who loves you dearly and advises you to, “Stay in a secret place and hide yourself.”

(Photo information.)

You can also view this paper on Scribd:

Theology and Psychology: Mental Illness and Scripture by Brook Elaine on Scribd

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” All persons are presumed to be responsible for ascertaining the rightfulness of their actions in advance. Generally, this is not a problem, because in everyday life, right and wrong are quite apparent to persons who act in accordance with the established societal standards. (Walston-Dunham, Beth. Introduction to Law, 6th edition. 2012, 2009, 2005, 1997, 1993, 1990. Clifton Park, NY. P. 523.)

Can the same be said about God’s law… “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”? Does God hold us to His law even if we do not know it? Does He treat all of the human beings He created, equally, regardless if they obey His laws or not? I am not even sure where to begin to study this out.

2 Corinthians 5:10 states,
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; (Romans 14:10. ESV.)
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:42-43. ESV.)

And Romans 3:19 states,
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20. ESV.)
2 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1. ESV.)
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16. ESV.)
39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39. ESV.)
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7. ESV.)

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:12-21. ESV.)


The Final Judgment

31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46. ESV.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Standing Still

There are times when I am afraid to move. These moments range in intensity. Have you ever failed to respond to something and then questions yourself, repeatedly, about it after the fact? Have you ever asked yourself, “Why didn’t I…?”

A couple days ago was one of those moments, for me. I was driving home on a busy four lane street when I noticed cars were stopping and/or slowing down. And, bounding through these cars was a young white boxer dog that just wanted to play. It ran and bounced and changed direction at a moment’s notice. The thought of opening my driver side door and seeing if he/she would jump into my car crossed my mind but the opportunity quickly passed when I did not respond when he/she was going right past my car. I saw the owner running down the sidewalk alongside the road, trying to catch up with his dog. Eventually, the white boxer ran and jumped back up onto the sidewalk but was still traveling at a quick pace a decent distance in front of his/her owner. A busy intersection was not too far ahead.

As I ran the situation through my mind over and again, I wondered what stopped me from opening my car door? Were there too many risks? What if a moving vehicle took off my door when I opened it? Or even worse, what if my attempt at getting the dog to jump into my car actually caused it to dart away and get hit by another car? But what if the effort had worked? The young white boxer would have been safe.

Two other situations quickly come to mind of times when I was still. Both involve my being a witness, within this last year, to assault and battery. The first, was when a healthy man threatened and hit a mentally and physically disabled man who was not able to defend himself. The situation was extremely upsetting and I wanted to make sure my children, who were also present, were safe. The disabled man ended up with a bloody nose and who knows what other injuries at the hands of his attacker, who was quite a bit bigger than him. After the fact, I played it over and again in my mind. What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I call 9-1-1? Why didn’t I record the attack so the authorities would have known exactly what happened? I did notify the disabled man’s family and made a statement to the authorities of what I witnessed. But, I cannot help feeling I should have done more.

The second circumstance, occurred while I was sitting in traffic. My children and parents were in my vehicle. We were on our way to dinner when we noticed a black SUV chasing a white pickup truck. The white truck pulled into a parking lot and the driver opened his door as if to get out. Before he was able to set foot on the ground, the driver of the black SUV had also pulled into the parking lot and was out of his vehicle, around the white truck, and was punching the driver of the white truck. This all happened very quickly. I fumbled clumsily with my mobile phone as I tried to stop my hands from shaking to call for assistance. I watched as the driver of the SUV continuously hit and attacked the driver of the white truck, who was thankfully a little bigger and stood strong against the blows. Before I could get my mind focused to call for help for the man, the wife/ girlfriend/ significant other of the driver of the SUV got out of the car and managed to stop the attack without getting into the middle of it. There were many witnesses, so I am hopeful at least one was able to contact the authorities and give an account of what happened. What could I have done differently? I was stuck at a stop light with plenty of time to call 9-1-1 or video record the attack so the authorities would have been able to see what happened. It is much easier to look back and say, “I should have…” but more difficult to respond in the moment, under pressure. Assessing the situation quickly and knowing the best way to handle it can be quite the challenge when stress is incapacitating.

Thankfully, I can rest in the knowledge God is in control...not me! I can “be still” and know He is God (Psalm 46:10) whether it is in the moments of my life (micro) or on a grander scale (macro) affecting a larger population.
God Is Our Fortress

To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
(Psalm 46. ESV.)

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Desiring God: How to Recognize a Foolish Leader

With today being election day in the United States, I struggled with what to place on my little space, today. This tiny portion of the internet is my own, small corner of the vast world. My words are a speck of a pebble in an enormous pond. Yet, I pick my words carefully and, hopefully, wisely. I watch, and hope, as the ripples from my "pebble" start out concentrated then slowly grow as they make their way from the focal point of the splash, out to the far rim of the water's edge. Some days, my own words do not feel like enough...they are grossly inadequate. So, I look to those who are wiser than myself. I share their words with you.

How to Recognize a Foolish Leader

No matter who is elected President of the United States in November, he or she will be a sinner. He or she will be fallible and will, like all presidents, make some serious mistakes. We will not elect a messiah-in-chief.

But nonetheless, the right kind of leader, under the wise governing checks and balances constructed in the American constitution, will help guide our nation through the very precarious days that lie ahead of us.
(Please click here to continue reading this article, by Jon Bloom, over at the Desiring God website.)

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Monday, November 07, 2016

Ghost Boy: Martin Pistorius

For the past month and a half I have been reading, between school reading and projects, a great book by Martin Pistorius called Ghost Boy. Martin’s story is truly unbelievable and inspiring. The human body and mind are so complex, this book will leave you questioning what you believe to be the average occurrence with individuals who are unable to get their physical body to do as they want. Is the body limited to what the mind instructs it to do or is the mind imprisoned by the body? I read somewhere our earthly body cannot keep up with our eternal soul…

Through this book, Martin shows us his life before an illness, that left him trapped in his own body, and after. He bravely tells of abuse that sometimes happens when those who are unable to protect themselves are left in the care of untrustworthy individuals. It also is a love story about overcoming the limitations placed on a relationship by others, outside of it. And, most importantly, it is about faith...

The one person I talked to was God, but He wasn’t part of my fantasy world. He was real to me, a presence inside and around that calmed and reassured me. Just as North American Indians might commune with their spirit guides or pagans look to the seasons and the sun, I spoke to God as I tried to make sense of what had happened to me and asked Him to protect me from harm. God and I didn’t talk about the big things in life—we didn’t engage in philosophical debates or argue about religion—but I talked to Him endlessly because I knew we shared something important. I didn’t have proof that He existed, but I believed in Him anyway because I knew He was real. God did the same for me. Unlike people, He didn’t need proof that I existed—He knew I did. (Pistorius, Martin and Davies, Megan Lloyd. Ghost Boy. 2013. Nashville, TN. Pg. 174.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Should be Writing

God's word is, of course, in written form. I am drawn to penned work. I take them in and create some of my own. I should be writing...every single day. If I am not with my children, studying God’s word, doing school work, doing chores around the house, grocery shopping, taking a walk, exercising, etc...I should be writing.

Stories play in my mind. Their characters are imprisoned and dying to get out. The great commission beckons me, daily life stories burden me, fictional escapades entice me. Incase I have not said it before, I really should be writing.

The sounds rose and were carried by the wind. Shouts of delight, squeals of whimsy, and roars of excitement danced about on the breeze. The trees rested quietly. All was peaceful save the occasional guest that blew through and caused the leaves to rustle and contort. Patches of sunlight penetrated the branches of the canopy and bounced along the ground. Small feet pounded against the earth like tiny hearts in little chests. The game was afoot.

But wait…

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' (John 3:1-7. ESV.)

And there is so much more that remains to be said…

Yet, my Psychology paper is taunting me.

Who has the energy to sleep, I’d much rather be writing.

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Friday, October 07, 2016

Hurricane Matthew: This Far You Shall Come and No Further

As Hurricane Matthew began its pounding on the state of Florida, my stomach was nearly in knots. Throughout the day my prayers, at the throne of God’s grace, were for His mercy. Hurricane Matthew had already tormented Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Bahamas. The death toll is up to at least 276...precious souls that are gone from here...all because of this monstrous storm.

As the hours marched onward, yesterday, and into the early morning hours, I watched social networks and the weather channel website for any clues as to how the storm was affecting those I hold dear. Standing on the sidelines for this one was, at times, indescribable. In a weird way, I wanted to be there with my family and friends. More so, I wanted them here and safe with me! Moments in the day, tears stung my eyes as I allowed myself to be swept away by thoughts of the sheer size and power of the storm. It could have demolished everything. But, by the grace of God, as a friend of mine in south Florida said, they "dodged a bullet".

All was quiet after 3am EST (eastern standard time) which told me there was nothing to report. The social networks and weather channel website stood relatively silent as Hurricane Matthew made its way through during the night hours. Some, who did not have to evacuate, slept on their couches, others on air mattresses, and all were uncertain what the morning light would reveal. I doubt anyone directly affected got much sleep. My hope is always in the Lord but fear did creep in as to what the morning would hold.

With much thankfulness and praise, many south Floridians sound as though they are doing well. They made it safely through the night, praise God! Now, I wait to hear from family members in north Florida as they ride out the hurricane. My family members on the east coast of the state have evacuated west and I pray their home is still standing, with minimal damage, when they return to it!

Thank you, God, for Your mercy!
8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?
(Job 38:8-11. ESV.)

(Photo Information.)

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Praying Through Hurricane Matthew

Heavenly Father, please be merciful! Pictures from space show Hurricane Matthew as it sweeps through the Atlantic Ocean making its way toward land. Its size consumes relatively small islands in its path. Video footage is coming in from Cuba, the Bahamas, and Haiti. From space this elegant, silent mass of white is all but graceful and restrained as its brute strength, merciless winds, and ruthless downpours destroy everything in sight. From a distance, all looks quiet and beautiful.

Lord, please be with those who are in danger and those who are recovering from it. They need your mercy and grace! This storm, which only You can control, bears down with great might and takes whatever it wants from those unfortunate enough to be in its way. Please, Lord, quiet this storm.

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.25 He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?" (Luke 8:22-25. ESV.)

A particular pang of heartache strikes within me as my family, friends, and acquaintances prepare and wait. Some of them could easily lose everything at the hands of Matthew. With its unforgiving power and long arms which stretch great distances, it throws out tornadoes as it creeps slowly and pounds the land and sea for hours. Pictures display the devastation which has already occurred to strangers I have never met. Men, women, and children who only managed to escape with their lives. Others, do not even have that, anymore. The survivors must now rebuild and bury their dead.

I look to You, Heavenly Father, in and through all of this…my eyes unwavering and my focus undeterred. I pray the same for those who need You now, desperately! Please fill them with a peace beyond all understanding that comes from knowing You.
The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7. ESV.)
I beg You for Your mercy and grace, Heavenly Father…please!

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Fighting Battles

Have you heard or read this message by Francis Anfuso? He stated,
All of us are called to face enemies and fight battles we don’t want to fight. It was one of the primary mistakes the Children of Israel made when God called them to conquer their promised land. The Bible says in Judges 1:28, “…when Israel grew strong, they…did not drive…out (their enemies) completely.” They didn’t do what God told them to do: drive the enemy out of their inheritance… their future….Over and over again, they put off absolutely essential, crucial battles. They didn’t realize a fact of life: the enemy you refuse to fight today you’ll have to fight tomorrow. What enemy of your soul are you unwilling to face and fight?

It is enough to get the wheels in your mind turning. What battles do you knowingly face that you REALLY do not want to fight? Well, here is what happens when we do not address these and drive the evil completely away…Judges 2:2-5 says,
But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3 So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you." 4 As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD.

Repeatedly, God gives the people of Israel directions on what to do and time and again Israel does not respond and do as He says. Then, when things get intolerable, the people cry out to God who sent individuals to deliver them from their distress, suffering, affliction, and oppression. God’s word says He brought them judges, then Othniel the son of Kenaz, then Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man, then Shamgar the son of Anath, then Deborah, Jael and Barak, then Gideon the son of Joash, and so on and so forth. Albeit, this was over the course of generations but how easy is it, in our own lives, to continually disobey God’s commands?

God calls us to be faithful, to trust Him, and to follow His instructions. When we do not, we make things difficult on ourselves. Then, of course, we run to God crying out for His mercy and grace. Which, He gives. The people of Israel, described above, allowed evil to swirl around and consume them. They did not fight against it or drive it out from their place. I believe all of us deal with this, today. The people of Israel continuously engaged in toxic relationships with individuals who oppressed them and caused them great distress. How often do we get ourselves into bad situations, despite God’s guidance, and then cry out to Him for deliverance?

32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?"
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:32-36. ESV.)

"Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You" by John Piper

One of the most sobering facts about life is that all humans have a supernatural enemy whose aim is to use pain and pleasure to make us blind, stupid, and miserable — forever. The Bible calls him “the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world . . . the accuser” (Revelation 12:9–10), “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Click here to continue reading.

Monday, October 03, 2016

A Little Bit of FanFiction

Where we left off…

As the ship cuts through the water toward England, the night air is brisk and whips through the hair of Constable Adelaide Stratton. The events of the past couple of days weigh heavily on her like a boulder upon her chest. She leans over the hand rail, looking out at the stars and listening to the water splashing against the vessel. The moon plays upon the dark abyss and dances on the ripples. The truth of her husband being a spy and his recent death fills her mind. She thought she had lost him years ago. She mourned him every single day since then, desiring to have him once again in her arms. But not like this! She fights to reconcile it all in her mind and in her heart.
Click here to continue reading at!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Prayer in the Holy Spirit: Part Seven

Getting into the mindset for this study and flushing out all of the stresses of current life events:

3. Prayer in the Holy Spirit (continued)

What does God’s word say about the Holy Spirit?
9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ (Ezekiel 37:9. ESV.)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,... 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:16, 26. ESV.)

17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:17. ESV.)

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:16. ESV.)

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30. ESV.)

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11. ESV.)

When I pray, it is with the belief that though my words and thoughts are inadequate, the Holy Spirit intercedes and speaks on my behalf with “groanings too deep for words”. So, I never worry that God will misunderstand what I am trying to say or that my heart’s desire will not be conveyed.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27. ESV.)

Grudem states, “It seems more likely that the ‘sighs’ or ‘groans’ here are our groans. When Paul says, ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (v. 26), the word translated ‘helps’ (Gk. sunantilambanomai) is the same word used in Luke 10:40, where Martha wants Mary to come and help her. The word does not indicate that the Holy Spirit prays instead of us, but that the Holy Spirit takes part with us and makes our weak prayers effective.” (Systematic Theology, p. 382.)

So, back to the question, what does God’s word say about “praying (or being) in the Spirit”?
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:18. ESV.)

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 20. ESV.)

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet (Revelation 1:10. ESV.)
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (cf. Revelation 4:2. ESV.)

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (Luke 10:21. ESV.)

21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." (Acts 19:21. ESV.)

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— (Romans 9:1. ESV.)

8 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18. ESV.)

8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:8. ESV.)

Grudem states, “To pray ‘in the Holy Spirit’ then, is to pray with the conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us and sanctifying both us and our prayers.” (Systematic Theology, p. 382.)

For this study, I used Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem as secondary authority and God’s word, the scriptures, as primary authority on the matter. (Side note: This investigation is to answer questions I have regarding my faith. I encourage all who may read this to research this themselves, also, in the scriptures. The answers you seek, and the understanding, might be different from my own.) To catch the other parts of the study, click below:

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six

(Source: Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 1994, 2000. Grand Rapids, MI.)

"The Stand" by Hillsong

"So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all.
I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours!" ("The Stand". Hillsong.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Prayer in the Holy Spirit: Part Six

We are weary, give us rest,
ignorant, make us wise unto salvation,
helpless, let thy strength be made perfect in our weakness,
poor and needy, bless us with Christ’s unsearchable riches,
perplexed and tempted, let us travel on unchecked,
knowing that thou hast said,
‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’.
(“God All-Sufficient”, The Valley of Vision.)

Today, I am continuing with a study I started last Wednesday. It is regarding “baptism in (or with) the Holy Spirit” and prayer in the Spirit. I am using Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem as secondary authority and God’s word, the scriptures, as primary authority on the matter. (Side note: This investigation is to answer questions I have regarding my faith. I encourage all who may read this to research this themselves, also, in the scriptures. The answers you seek, and the understanding, might be different from my own.) To catch the other parts of the study, click below:

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five

Grudem states, “In conclusion, the disciples certainly did experience ‘a baptism in the Holy Spirit’ after conversion on the Day of Pentecost, but this happened because they were living at a unique point in history, and this event in their lives is therefore not a pattern that we are to seek to imitate.

‘What shall we say about the phrase ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’? It is a phrase that the New Testament authors use to speak of coming into the new covenant power of the Holy Spirit. It happened at Pentecost for the disciples, but it happened at conversion for the Corinthians and for us.” (Systematic Theology, p. 773.) For a more detailed, in depth study of “baptism in the Holy Spirit” please check out chapter 39 of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. I was only barely scratching the surface, here.

Alright, so far this study covered:

1. “The Holy Spirit will bestow or withdraw blessing according to whether or not he is pleased by the situation he sees.” (Systematic Theology, p. 647).

2. What does God’s word say about “baptism in (or with) the Holy Spirit”?

Now we are on to:

3. Prayer in the Holy Spirit
My heart’s desire is to “pray better”. I am not sure how else to put it. It is not unusual for me to be in a prayer group with a phenomenal prayer warrior! And, feeling the Spirit move within the group is absolutely amazing! That might sound a little weird or kooky to some but…

I usually feel my words in prayer are so inadequate! Hence the reason I never pray out loud in a group. Most of the time when I am in prayer, it is like one that would take place between me and another person. It is a conversation. No, I am not talking to myself, I am trying to convey the desires of my heart out loud, in speech. That in and of itself is a big challenge.

So, what does God’s word say about prayer?
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5. ESV.)
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6. ESV.)

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Romans 3:23-26. ESV.)

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27. ESV.)

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,… 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22. ESV.)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9. ESV.)

24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:24. ESV.)

Whew, this study is very meaty! I am only touching on each of these points. The depth of the information in Systematic Theology by Grudem goes on for pages! I highly recommend this book! Well, my brain is burnt out so I’ll continue, tomorrow.

(Sources: Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 1994, 2000. Grand Rapids, MI.

Bennett, Arthur. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. 1975, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007. The Banner of Truth Trust. Edinburgh, UK, Carlisle, PA.)


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