A novel and godly driven approach to marriage from a girl with a beautiful heart. The emphasis on being there for each other and helping each other achieve their goals, is good for the husbands to keep in mind too:
This woman also has good advice for men as well as women:
There are more videos by Christian women at Grace for Purpose.
Secular psychology - and now most of our culture - seems to be increasingly suggesting that people should be happy with who they are. Much effort is put into making people feel comfortable with their failings and imperfections. Such things as bad temperedness, vanity, various forms of lack self control etc. are attributed as being part of their unique personalities.
This is quite the opposite of the Christian view of human nature. Christianity tells us that we are far from the best we can be. It tells us that we are fallen and full of sinfulness. Of course, this is counter-balanced with the promise from Jesus that if we turn to him we will be perfected, and washed clean of our sin. But until such time as we have worked - with Jesus's help - to remove our selfishness, and be capable of self-denial then we are far from perfect. Certainly we should NOT be happy with who we are when we start that journey. To the Christian this realisation is not a cause for self-hatred, depression or despair. Rather it is a relief - Christians are glad that a path is available to free them from harming others through selfishess, and that that path will lead to a joyous everlasting life of love.
Thus it appears that these two world views are coming more and more into conflict. As G.K Chesterton stated we are facing a new world where sinners declare that they are saints, rather than the old one in which saints declared that they were sinners. Admitting one's sinfulness is a necessary - and therefore healthy - step towards happiness. Secular people are being denied this path, with the athiest promise that they are fine as they are - i.e that it is ok to have whatever faults or sexual or other desires they have - no matter how out of control those desires are. From the athiests' perspective the problem lies not with the sinful individual, but the judgementalness of others. They seek to change God's world to accommodate human sinfulness, rather than change the people to be accommodated by God. Thus the athiests' efforts are likely to drive non-Christian people further and further from God. They focus not on creating virtuous individuals but on creating a virtuous society through social activism. Unfortunately, such a thing is impossible - you can never have a virtuous society that does not consist of virtuous people (and certainly not without God as leader). What you will create instead is one variation of hell - the various disasterous social experiments of the 20th century bear testament to this truth..
In such a world Christians perhaps need to be reminded to ignore the secular values around them; to remember that Christians do not belong to this world, and instead to hold more tightly to Jesus' promises and keep their eyes instead on the glittering prize, regardless of what worldly suffering they may encounter.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9
"but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."
1 John 1:7
My daughter will soon be a teenager. I have been thinking carefully about what I can teach her based on my knowledge and experience. Something like the following comes to mind:
"If you want to attract boys who like you for who you are - for your good heart and your unique personality - then think carefully about how you dress and present yourself.
Boys naturally see girls as beautiful and mysterious beings. But this innocent and romantic view can be easily damaged and perverted if girls present themselves sexually. They are then appealing to a more beastial element of boys attraction. This will have two affects, it will risk attracting boys who are drawn by sexual attributes rather than personality. This can be very damaging for girls - as such a relationship is not built on love and respect. It is also less likely to last. Anyway, women can look very beautiful - I would say more beautiful - by emphasising their femininity (as in the picture above) rather than appealing to baser sexual attractions.
Not only does this risk damaging the relationship between the girl and the boy, but it damages relationships between men and women more generally. If girls constantly appeal to boy's and men's sexual desires, then they are simultaneously placing them under constant temptation, and training them to see girls in a sexual light rather than the romantic light they would otherwise. I think it is these female behaviours that have led to so many men becoming like beasts when it comes to sex.
Many women will say to you that is it your choice - you can dress how you like, tough luck for boys and men if it is a problem for them.
The first answer to this is: yes, you can do what you like - but is it charitable? Is it selfish?
I might like to play my bagpipes in the street morning and night - I CAN do that, if people don't like it, that is their problem not mine. But that would be selfish, and not charitable.
But in our case there is a further problem. If a girl becomes accustomed to taking pleasure in getting attention for her appearance - then what happens as she gets older? By then she is used to the attention and the pleasure she gets from looking attractive. But as she gets older, her looks will fade, the attention will go. She has created misery for herself, and will become more and more obsessed with her appearance, probably she will feel more and more insecure. How then can she focus on God's message of love and care for others - that we all should strive for? And without God, how then can she find happiness? I think such a woman has condemned herself to a kind of hell, and probably many others on the way."
So I think I will tell my daughter something like that - maybe not all at once though!
While it is good to emphasise God's love, I fear it is not sufficient.
If the only message non-Christians get is that God is all-loving and all-forgiving then they are unlikely to see the urgency of turning to Him. Instead they may think along the following lines:
"Christians tell me God loves me unconditionally, so therefore I need do nothing to earn His love and care, and whatever I do wrong will be forgiven anyway, so perhaps one day I might consider God and Christianity more carefully, but there seems no need to worry about that right now".
And this is perhaps an optimistic view I am taking. Most likely they will not consider thinking of God at all. Emphasing only God's saving love leaves out the other side of the picture: the ultimate destruction of oneself that is inevitable for those who do not turn to Him - and according to Ravi Zacharias it is SELF destruction, not God's destruction. Only God can save us from our own sinful nature. The longer we are separated from God the more danger we are in.
Ray Comfort asks whether someone could stand by and watch while another person was about to be hit by a truck - who could do nothing but watch such a scenario and claim to be acting out of love? He asks then how much more uncaring is it to believe there is a hell and yet not warn anyone about it? Do you really think that someone who finds themselves in hell will not cry: "You knew this horrible thing was true - yet you never warned me? What sort of Christian are you?".
Given this I fully support people like Israel Folau who texted a warning to his twitter followers - it was a tiny counter message to the mainstream one that nothing matters but pleasure and what YOU think is right. Because there is so little opposition to this materialist man-as-God perspective it is even more important that prominent people make such statements - they are the only ones who are likely to have any impact and penetrate the media's boiler-plate which stands against the Christian view. Even if the media attention is only a massive cry denouncing him, it is certainly worth it. Clearly there are those who are scared of his message - if he had tweeted "God loves you" it would have gotten no attention - and the few that heard it would have likely gone on their way, thinking "of course he loves me, how could he not?" - unaware of the horrors that await them if they continue on this path too long.
The following comes from the Household of God Vol I by Jakob Lorber - I still remember the first time I read it (when I was trying to make sense of the Gospel Teachings) and the wave of truth, light and understanding that flushed through my heart when I read this:
THE HEAVENLY FATHER'S WARNING TO HIS CHILDREN
Thus spoke the Lord to me and within me for everyone, and that is true, faithful and certain:
1. Whoever wishes to talk with Me, let him come to Me and I shall lay the answer in his heart. But only the pure whose heart is full of meekness shall hear the sound of My voice.
2. And he who prefers Me to all the world and loves Me like a tender bride her bridegroom, with him I shall walk arm in arm, and he will always behold Me like a brother his brother, and as I beheld him from eternity, before he was.
3. Tell the sick, they shall not grieve about their sickness, but turn to Me in all earnest and trust Me completely. I shall comfort them, and a stream of the most precious balm will flow into their heart, and the fountain of eternal life will inexhaustibly manifest within them. They will recover and shall be refreshed like the grass after a downpour.
4. Tell those who seek Me: I am the true 'everywhere' and 'nowhere'. I am everywhere where people love Me and keep My commandments and nowhere where I am only praised and worshipped. For is not love more than prayer and the keeping of the commandments more than worship? Verily, verily, I say to you: He who loves Me worships Me in spirit, and he who keeps My commandments is the one who truly reveres Me. But only he who loves Me can keep My commandments, and the one who loves Me has only one commandment - that he love Me and My living Word which is the true everlasting life.
5. Tell the weak from My mouth: I am a powerful God. Let them all turn to Me and I shall perfect them. Of the flycatcher I shall make a lion-tamer, and the fearful shall destroy the world, and the mighty of the earth shall be scattered like chaff.
6. Tell the dancers openly that Satan manipulates them all. He seizes them all by their feet and whirls them around to make them dizzy enough so that they can neither stand nor walk, nor sit, nor sleep, nor rest, nor see, hear, feel, smell or taste, nor sense, for they are all dead and, therefore, can neither be advised nor helped. And even if they wished to turn to Me, they would feel like somebody whom a strong one had seized by the feet and whirled around. If he were to look up to the sky he would not see the sun, but only a bright streak blinding him so that he would close his eyes, unwilling to see anything any more.
7. The person whose physical eyes are blind has still the possibility of seeing with his spiritual eyes. But he, who has turned blind in his spirit, remains so in eternity.
8. Tell the gamblers that they first gamble away their life and eventually everything that has been given to them for their life. For gambling is a well filled with poisonous dirt. The gamblers believe it to be a hidden source of gold and keep burrowing in it daily, inhaling its pestilential odor, poisoning themselves through and through and finding their spirit's eternal death instead of the imagined gold.
9. Those who have the Scriptures, but do not read them are like thirsty men beside a well with pure water which, however, they do not want to drink, either because of a certain spiritual dread of water like rabid dogs that instead of drinking some water and recovering will rather bite into the hardest stones to quench their thirst, or very often because of a certain indolence. They prefer to be served by certain idle servants stinking slime from the nearest mud-hole to quench their thirst and eventually perish.
10. Tell the love-makers: Whoever walks in the flesh, walks in death and his lust will soon become the food of maggots. Only he who walks in the spirit will reach the light, the original source of life. His share will remain forever and keep increasing.
11. Those who are fashion-crazy tell in all earnest that they will be standing naked before their most just judge. Their splendor will vanish like bubbles. Their lust for power and pomp shall end in the lowest slavery, and they will be ashamed of their foolishness everlastingly. Is not he a great fool who wants to have a rubbish heap gold plated and has gems set in the worst kind of dirt instead of gold! Oh, that there are so many lunatics in the world these days! They regard the light as darkness and the darkness as light!
12. Already there is a star in the East that will pave the way for Orion, and the fire of Sirius will consume all of them. And I will fling great numbers of stars to the earth so that all the evildoers may perish and My light shine everywhere.
13. I, Jehovah, God from eternity, the True and Faithful, for a final warning. Amen.
14. This concerns first of all you, who have so poorly recorded this, and then all the others. Amen. This says the First and the Last. Amen.
Imagine that you had someone who loves and cares for you always, who has promised to look after you no matter what - who is able to keep you free from anxiety and fear. Would you not be happy? It would be hard not to be.
This is what God provides to Christians. He offers to be a father to us, protecting us, providing for us and giving us what we need to be happy. And like a real father, all he expects from his children is love, respect and for them to behave (be good and grateful).
Thus Christianity offers people the freedom of a good childhood, to be able to enjoy the world, to be a creature of love - which children seem to be more than adults - and to live without care for the material needs of life. Who and what else can offer such bliss?
Christianity allows a state of spiritual health and happiness. I have heard people say that Christianity is a crutch - but it is not - it is true health, which allows one to throw away all the other crutches which people lean on (and find inadequate by the way). The faithful and trusting Christian does not need drugs or alcohol, or gambling or gluttony, or beauty, or massive wealth to feel safe, secure and happy. He or she has all they need. It is promised to them by the one being who is always able to keep His promises:
"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans strive after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.…" Matthew (6.31-32)
Thus if you have not already; free yourself from the cares of this world and know that you will comforted, even in the worst of circumstances, such as those faced by the Christian martyrs. Then you need fear nothing in this world, and you will be free to love without fear, and thus truly happy.
Paula Eberl, and later Pope Benedict XVI, stated that "there are as many paths to God as there are people".
I think this is a very dangerous and misleading statement. It implies that one can go on their merry way and nothing will go wrong.
It might be true that eventually everyone finds their way to God (indeed I believe that is God's plan), but not all paths will be equal - and for any individual there is a choice of paths - some much better than others. Thus I feel it is very dangerous to promote the idea that one need not concern themselves about which path they take, just because they all lead to the same destination. I certainly can take many paths from work to home - a direct one which gets me there quickly and safely; a circuitous one that winds, takes longer and exposes me to more dangers and unpleasant experiences; or - to be really extreme - one that travels around the globe before reaching home, and only after much time, stress and trouble. Thus from this example it is plain that any of these paths would be uniquely my own but one is far better than all the others, and many are far worse than the best.
So please do not accept the mantra that people need not take responsibility for what path they are on, or how they are progressing. All paths are not equal, and in the end there is only one that will get you 'home' safely and in the shortest time, and that path is summarised in the following statement by Jesus:
"“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
and whatever you think of Jesus, few would call Him a liar.
Guilt can be a very destructive force. Someone who is racked by guilt cannot move forward. Of course it would be best if we had nothing to feel guilty about – but that is not true of anyone. We are human, we all sin; we all make mistakes. But guilt can also be useful. The useful purpose of guilt is to force us to reflect on our fallen human nature, and then to turn to God for redemption from this nature. But once you do this - once you repent of your sin, correct it where possible, and seek to allow God to make you a better person - guilt has no further place. It is at this stage that guilt stops being a tool of God and can become instead a tool of the Enemy. Being obsessed with your guilt at this point will only hold back your development as a Christian.
In Luke (9:62) Jesus says: "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.". I think this expression has multiple meanings. Firstly, that if you turn away from the world to God, you should not continue to live in a worldly way or seek worldly things (or at least try not to). But I suspect it also means we should leave behind our sins. The aim is to not be who we were, but rather to become a new person. This new person is no longer the old sinner who holds the guilt for past sins, but is rather continuing down the path towards becoming an angelic being (like God; remember: Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”).
Therefore one on this journey is only hindered by holding guilt for the sins of the past. It is in effect like holding the guilt for something someone else has done – positively unhealthy. The Apostle’s Creed (shared by all Christian denominations) includes the following lines:
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church ; (nb: catholic means “all embracing”)
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Notice the line about the forgiveness of sins – you must really believe this to be a Christian. It is a requirement; it is part of believing in the redemptive power of Christ. Therefore do believe it – that once you repent, your sins are forgiven, and you need to move on – focussing not on the past (not looking back from the plough) but working towards eliminating the remaining imperfections in your soul. You must press on relentlessly, and if guilt is holding you back, then at this point one major hurdle you must overcome is your lack of faith in God’s forgiveness and His promise of redemption for determined Christians.
Chesterton claims that Christianity is full of paradoxes, and explains that paradoxes are contradictions. He declares that very cross itself is a contradiction. Certainly it is not hard to find paradoxes in Christian teaching some common ones are:
These are obvious contradictions/paradoxes. Now there is another contradiction hidden deep in Matthew 12 verse 24:
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
This seems to demand of us the self-will to deny ourselves and resist temptation. However, anyone who tries this will find that in relation to the things that tempt them most they cannot do it; their will is not strong enough. So how can we meet this demand?
The answer is that relying on your own strength is a kind of egoism. And that egoism is principly what must be denied. You must deny that you have the strength and rest on the strength of God, not your own.
Andrew Murray explains this in his text "The Self-life: The Hindrance to the Spiritual Life" (which you can listen to below) but it has been understood in Alcholics Anonymous for years.
Step 1 is: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 3 is: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In fact, the 12 steps of AA provides a perfect example for this contradiction - for an alchoholic to give up alchohol (which is clearly one the things that tempts them most) they must really want to give up - that is the extent of the power of their own will. But to actually succeed, they must not rely on their power or strength, but fall back onto God's. That is to say, they must give up the egotism that says they can do this on their own.
And that perhaps is one of the hardest and most deep lessons of Christianity, and I believe that is what is mostly meant by Jesus' admonition to anyone who wants to follow him to: "let him deny himself". To deny not only the temptation, but the very self (his ego).
One of the main messages of Christianity is that we are subject to selfish emotions – envy, pride, self-righteousness. These are products of our ‘natural’ or ‘fallen’ state. It is these emotions, which are connected to our ego, that we must resist. The only emotion we can trust and cultivate - as one that drives action - is love. If you are not feeling love then be on your guard that some selfishness is not at work.
For example, I recently heard an anecdote where a woman was in a lift with a group of men, and one of them made a crude joke. She was offended and told the man off. Now this is no doubt the right thing to do if someone (woman or man) does this – but Christianity asks for more of you. It asks you how were you feeling when this happened? If you are outraged and feel offended, and speak from that motivation then that suggests that your ego is involved. A true Christian would not be concerned about how the crude remark affected them, but would be more concerned about the state of the soul of someone who makes such remarks, and their reply would therefore come from a place of love and concern for that person (rather than their own offended ego). And I suggest that with such a motivation of love the response will be delivered slightly differently – but perhaps with bigger effect. I am not saying that the reply would not be stern, but rather that the tone and facial expressions might be more of deep concern than deep outrage.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
“Let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16a)