Sunday, August 7, 2016

Night Light for Couples - A Holy Partnership

“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself.” Ephesians 5:33

To properly define the God‐ordained role of husbands, there’s no better place to turn than Scripture. The apostle Paul instructs: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:25–28). Paul also tells us “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23).

Here’s the bottom line of your responsibility as a husband: You are charged with the holy, loving leadership of your wife. There is nothing dictatorial or selfish in this prescription! Your love is to be so strong that it mirrors Christ’s love for the church, so committed that you would unquestioningly die to save her, and so powerful that it is indistinguishable from love of your self.

What a challenge! And what a privilege to join with God and your wife in this holy partnership! For as you fulfill your role as head of the house, you’ll encounter blessings you never imagined.

Just between us…
  • (husband) What has been my most “shining moment” as your husband?
  • (husband) Do you feel my love for you meets this scriptural ideal?
  • (wife) How do you feel about the responsibility God gives husbands?
  • (wife) How can I encourage you in this role?
(husband) Heavenly Father, You have given me an awesome and holy responsibility to love my wife just as Christ loved the church. Help me to follow His perfect example as I learn to increase my love for my mate. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Night Light for Couples - Head of the House

by Thom Hunter

My preteen son Patrick doesn’t take many things seriously, but occasionally something grabs hold of him and he just won’t let it go. He will question an idea or concept until he is satisfied that society isn’t misleading him and that all is right in his world.

I’m never prepared for his persistence.

“Dad, can we go to the movies today?” he asked as we crawled down the optimistically named Northwest Expressway. “Maybe,” I said. “I’ll check with Mom when we get home.” “She’ll say no,” he said. “She’ll say we need to clean our rooms, or read a book, or play outside. Or… or something else.” The tires on the van made a couple more rotations. “Dad?” asked Patrick. “Can we get another hamster?” What a radical idea. We hadn’t had a hamster die on us in weeks. “Well, maybe,” I answered. “We’ll see what Mom thinks.”

I turned off the radio. “Dad?” came the voice again. “Can we eat out tonight?” “Probably,” I said. “If Mom doesn’t already have something planned.” I pushed a cassette tape into the player. “Dad?” Patrick asked. “Is Mom the head of our house?” Wham! I felt like I was in a ten‐car pileup. My face was turning red.

My temperature was rising. I was suddenly feeling closed in by the cars surrounding me. I looked in the rearview mirror. Patrick was perched in the middle of the seat behind me, an innocent little grin on his face.

“Patrick,” I said, “I am the head of the household. I make the decisions. And don’t you forget it. Understand?”

“Okay,” he said. “Does that mean we can eat out, go to the movies, and pick up a new hamster on the way home?”

He’d set me up. And I almost fell for it. He was watering down the parent partnership, looking for a crack in which to stick a wedge, testing a biblical concept, and looking for the advantage in the process.

What do pizza, hamsters, and big‐screen fantasy have to do with whether or not I am fulfilling my role as head of the family? I asked myself that question as I zeroed in on the bumper in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and avoided the accident. Fortunately, we were at the expressway’s top speed of seven miles an hour.

For scoring purposes, we did eat out and go to the movies that night, but we decided to sell the hamster cage. “We” made those decisions, his mother and I. This “head of the household” thing is very touchy to me. When I was growing up, there was never any doubt. Mother was the head of the household. But she had never intended it to be that way. She was supposed to have had a partner. She understood the concept of a helpmeet. If my father had been a different kind of man and hadn’t left us when I was six years old, she would have made a wonderful complement to him.

“You must be a man,” she would tell me when I was a teenager. “Take the responsibility; don’t run from the decisions; love your wife; cherish your children.”

And be the head of the household.

So I always wanted to be the head of the household: ruler over all I surveyed, supreme commander, father and master of my many loyal subjects. I carried this dream to the altar and later into the delivery room—five times. My kingdom went from squalling to crawling to sprawling all around me.

So, if I am the head of the household, why is the head aching and the house barely holding together? And if I am the head of the household, why do I sometimes go to bed with dishpan hands and worry that I’ve forgotten to unplug the iron?

If I am the head of the household, why do I have to barter for time to watch a football game on television, promising to ride bikes for two hours in exchange for ten minutes of solitude?

And, if I am the head of the household, why do I have to cut my subjects’ plates of meat after I set the table? And why do I have to clear the table and pick up mushy mashed potatoes from the floor with my bare hands while everyone else has dessert they weren’t supposed to get unless they ate all their mashed potatoes?

And, if I am the head of the household, why do I have to cover five other bodies before I pull my own blanket up to my own chin; explain away everybody else’s nightmares before I take on my own; fluff their pillows and tuck their feet back under the sheets; get them one more drink; and plug in their night‐lights?

And if I am the head of the household, why do I have to rub my wife’s back before she can go to sleep?

Why, I ask? Why do I have to do all these things? Because I am the head of the household, that’s why. If I don’t listen… if I am inconsiderate of others… if I make decisions without the input of the wife God gave me…if I try to do it on my own without God, then I may as well forget about being the head of the household.

That’s what I’ll tell Patrick next trip down the Northwest Expressway. We’ll have plenty of time.

Looking ahead…

Husband, this week is designed especially for you. (But we still want your wife to participate!) Like the author of the story above, do you sometimes struggle with your role as “head of the house”? What exactly does that mean, anyway? It is a controversial topic in today’s world, but there are biblical truths on which to base an understanding.

We’ll offer some of these principles this week. For tonight, why don’t you tell your wife how you define “head of the house”—then ask if she agrees.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Head of the House” by Thom Hunter. Taken from Those Not-So-Still Small Voices (NavPress). © 1993. Used by permission of the author.

The Daily Readings for August 7, 2016 - 12th Sunday of Pentecost

Genesis 15:1-6
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir." But the word of the LORD came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir." He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Psalm 33:12-22
12   Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD! happy the people he has chosen to be his own!
13   The LORD looks down from heaven, and beholds all the people in the world.
14   From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze on all who dwell on the earth.
15   He fashions all the hearts of them and understands all their works.
16   There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army; a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.
17   The horse is a vain hope for deliverance; for all its strength it cannot save.
18   Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, on those who wait upon his love,
19   To pluck their lives from death, and to feed them in time of famine.
20   Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21   Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, for in his holy Name we put our trust.
22   Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us, as we have put our trust in you.

Hebrews 11:1-3, 11:8-16
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old-- and Sarah herself was barren-- because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, "as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore." All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

Luke 12:32-40
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. "But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Continuous Reading Track

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation—I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Psalm 50:1-8, 23
1   The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2   Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
3   Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him.
4   He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5   “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6   The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge.
7   “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
8   Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
23  Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 7, 2016 - 12th Sunday of Pentecost

From Forward Day By Day

Luke 12:32 (NRSV) Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

An old high school friend and retired pastor told me that various renderings of the phrase “fear not” occur 365 times over the entire course of the Bible—that’s one “fear not” for each day of the year. It probably makes good sense to start each day by reminding ourselves of this message from God.

Here in Luke, Jesus is telling us that we are part of the family, his flock, and that it is a joy for God to give us the kingdom. Jesus is not telling us that we must earn a place in God’s commonwealth. He is not saying that we have to adhere to some doctrine, go to synagogue every sabbath, follow some strict set of rules and regulations, or even be good to be a part of his family and enjoy life in the realm of the Almighty.

Jesus is telling us not to worry; God wants us in the kingdom. It is where we belong. Jesus is calling his flock home. Fear not.

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Blessed are you when people…falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11

This stage of persecution is characterized by unchecked ridicule and disinformation against a targeted group (Christian or others) most often spread through media. In this stage Christians are robbed of their good reputation and the right to answer the accusations made against them. Media, politics, entertainment, publications and schools are most often the avenues used to spread such insinuations or lies.

If disinformation about any group is disseminated long enough, no one will help in later stages because of this negative brain-washing about them. It essentially dehumanizes the person and is a pattern of thinking that may make it easier for milder wrongs to ignite a chain reaction of events. It creates an “us-versus-them” mentality.
A classic historic example is the gross disinformation the German Nazis spread about the Jews which then developed into a literal negative symbol when Jewish homes and businesses were marked with Stars of David and then targeted.

This also can result in verbal stereotyping. In the Rwanda genocide, the term “cockroach” became a negative classification of all Tutsi as conspirators against the government.

There are many significant global examples of disinformation used against our Christian brothers and sisters. The influence and impact of negative television programs against Protestant Christians in an autonomous region in Central Asia is very strong. A local pastor was shown on TV and, without reference to any evidence, labelled “an enemy of the state.” His family members’ pictures were also shown at the same time causing them to be despised by their community.

Recently a Christian woman who was shown on TV was not able to continue her work in a kiosk in the market. Other vendors forced her to leave the bazaar.

One local pastor says, “Since the program is shown regularly on TV, persecution has become worse. Some people have left the church out of fear. When you start to preach (to the public), people close up and say, we have heard about you, we don’t want to listen.”

In North Korea, the entire society is controlled by propaganda and disinformation. Persecution is so severe that in many Christian families, children are not even told about the family’s faith in Jesus until they are young adults because they are encouraged and expected to inform on their parents while in their school years. Christians are considered enemies of the state and the disinformation about this is wide spread.

Similarly, in countries like Laos, the government disinformation is that Christianity is an American religion being used to infiltrate their country rather than the former military methods. All Christians are thus portrayed as being traitors and working for America.

RESPONSE: Today I will work for truth and quash all attempts at disinformation against followers of Jesus everywhere.

PRAYER: Lord, grant Your blessing today on Your followers suffering from lies and untruths.

Verse of the Day - August 07, 2016

Isaiah 33:22 (NIV) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.

Read all of Isaiah 33