Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Closer Look at Marriage (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. This is probably because I am a marriage and family therapist and work with a lot of couples. Another reason for me thinking a lot about marriage right now is that yesterday (September 22) my wonderful wife and I celebrated 35 years of blissful life together. Thank you Thelma, for showing me how wonderful marriage can be! You are the best!
Marriage is one of those subjects people can't really feel neutral about. All of us have our views about marriage, for whatever reason. Some of you who read this are recently married, others are looking forward to marriage; some of us are in the mid-years of marriage, married 15-35 years, while still others are celebrating 50-plus years together.

Some of you have never married; maybe some wish they would have never married; still others were married and lost your spouse and remarried or decided not to remarry. So we've had a variety of experiences around marriage.

Marriage is that relationship that has become fodder for a lot of jokes, sarcasm, and grief. Here are a couple of good ones I’ve heard:

      We were visiting friends when they received a telephone call from their recently married daughter. After several tense minutes on the phone, the mother told the father to pick up the extension. The newlyweds had had their first big fight. In a few moments, the father rejoined us and tersely explained, "Our daughter said she wanted to come home.” “What did you tell her?" I asked. The father replied: “Simple. I told her she was home."
      Or this one (Told by a woman): Soon after our last child left home for college, my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses: "You know, honey," I said sweetly, "without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married." "Honey," he replied with a grin, "without my glasses you still look pretty good, too!"

In the Bible, the concept or term used to portray and describe marriage is "one flesh." Genesis 2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." So what does "one flesh" really mean?

First of all, it’s important to understand the context of this Genesis passage. Just what was happening here?

The time is as far back as one can go! God had just finished creation not long before this passage in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God had placed Adam, the first man, in the Garden of Eden. But Adam was alone and God was about to do something about that; God says: "I will make a helper suitable for him." So God performs a special creation - woman – and she was taken out of the man and brought to Adam. What a time that must have been! Adam recognizes the woman as part of him, yet distinctly different.

What is the meaning of "one flesh"? what's interesting to note is that when Jesus quotes these same words in Matt.19 he ascribes them to God, the Creator ("at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man will leave...'") So what's the meaning here?

      Leave - a new family unit is established. A man doesn't stay under the custody of his parents, nor the woman of hers, but the two leave their families of origin, their parents, and establish a new family unit. Problems arise in marriages when this leaving doesn't happen.
      Cleave (KJV) or "be united" emotionally, physically, spiritually. There is so much focus today on sexual fulfillment, and there's a place for that, but I contend that if a couple is becoming one spiritually, emotionally, the physical union - sexual union - will take care of itself, and be great!
      One flesh - marriage is oneness - in purpose, goals, spiritually, serving the Lord together, growing together toward Christ, one sexually. The two retain their individuality, but in marriage there is an overarching commitment to oneness, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
In my next blog entry I will talk more about honoring the gift of sex in marriage.

Tom Horst, Therapist

New Hope Community Life Ministry

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord" - Part 3

Part 3 – The Bible Shows Us the Way to Peace

The ideal of loving community which King David longed for centuries before the times of either Isaiah or of Daniel, he himself described in what we now call Psalm 133:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

 It is like the precious ointment poured on the head, that ran down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron, that came down upon the collar and skirts of his garments [consecrating the whole body]. 

 It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly].

This deeply beautiful sentiment and passionate desire for peace has been, in some form or another, given voice by many generations of people, all over the earth, as they were facing violence, upheaval, and chaos in their own time, and in their own personal experiences.

Isaiah longed for this supernatural peace or shalom as well, and must have rejoiced to see it coming someday, as he received these prophetic communiques regarding the Messiah to come.

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed side by side, their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

 And the suckling child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.                                           

They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 And it shall be in that day that the Root of Jesse shall stand as a signal for the peoples; of Him shall the nations inquire and seek knowledge, and His dwelling shall be glory [His rest glorious]  

This wondrous, restful reality corresponds perfectly with the worldwide thrust and spread of the Good News to all nations, changing everything from the inside out.

Daniel pictured this spread of God’s Kingdom, as the Stone hewn without human hands (a supernatural Person – Jesus!), growing into a mountain, and as the Gospel message of Jesus as King of kings and as Lord of lords, once rejected and crucified, now risen, ascendant, exalted, and forever glorified, being established in every land and on each continent.

Once again, we know that any specific fulfillment during this current interim period we call the Church Age, will have its most fruitful season for an indeterminate timeframe, and then may morph away from its initial blossoming, into religious ritual or empty structure, unless we allow ourselves and our organizational systems to be constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit and His word.

We also know that whatever is manifested in human history, will only find its absolute completion in whatever lies beyond Jesus’ return to this physical universe, to literally and visibly rule eternally. The actual events of the last of the last days, and the second coming of the Messiah, certainly seems to be moving into view, in these last few verses of Isaiah’s prophetic word in this section of the Scriptures.

The ingathering pictured in these verses, obviously represents specific scattered Jewish enclaves, called back from New Testament times to receive Jesus as their true Messiah and enter refreshed into His growing, eternal Kingdom.

In a symbolic fashion, this specified ingathering may also represent alternately and more broadly, all people in all places at all times, who are true followers of Jesus. These have been made personally, and corporately into citizens of the one true Israel of God, (Galatians 6:15-16), who are circumcised spiritually (Colossians 2:11-13), through their personal receiving of Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and who live peacefully, scattered throughout the whole earth in faithful believing communities.

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling in Love With Jesus

      I was asked to speak at the Annual Women’s Day Brunch at my church yesterday. This year’s theme was “Falling in Love with Jesus”. I was asked to use this theme in conjunction with Mark 7:24-30 where we see how Jesus honors a Greek Woman’s faith. It reads:

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

            As I read this passage, I reflected on the qualities of her faith that prompted Jesus to honor it in such a way. I shared three qualities:

1.      She humbled herself. We see that because it says she “fell at his feet” (vs.25).

2.      She persisted in spite of him initially ignoring her. In Matthew 15:23, it says “But He answered her not a word”. She also persisted in spite of His saying that He was not sent to her. He had replied “for it is not right to take the children’s (referencing the Jews to whom he was first sent to reconcile back to God) bread and toss it to the dogs (symbolic for the Gentiles which she was) (vs, 27).

3.      She believed that even the smallest of crumbs that falls from God’s table was sufficient for her needs. She knew He was the only One who could help her.

This is a powerful passage. It certainly shows that Jesus never turns away anyone genuinely seeking His help.

There have been many times in my life that God has honored my faith, The more that I put my faith in Him and the more that he honors my faith like He did for this woman, the more I trust Him and the deeper I fall in love with Him. I’m falling in love with Jesus more and more each day.

Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

I have come to a place in my life where I look for the Blessings that come out of the trials and tribulations that I have been through.  I haven’t always done this as I have gone through difficulties, however, I have come to realize that God has me go through certain seasons so that I can be a better listener and help someone else going through a similar difficult time in their life.

Recently I was having a routine yearly exam and experienced a lot of pain and nausea after having left the doctor’s office.  Later in the day I had to make a visit to a hospital emergency department.  Some routine blood work there convinced that doctor to send me for a CT scan.  The culprit of my pain was found on the scan and I will soon have the issue resolved.

When I tell my story to others they feel sorry for me to have something else to deal with.  I look at this as a “Blessing in Disguise”!  Had I not gone in and had my routine exam the issue would not have surfaced until much later.  I find comfort in one of my favorite songs:                            

“Blessings” by Laura Story     

            We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family protection

            while we sleep.  We pray for healing, for prosperity, we pray for you mighty

            hand to ease our suffering and all the while you hear each spoken need and love

            us way to much for lesser things.

            ‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops what if your healing comes

            through tears what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know

            your near What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise.

            We pray for wisdom your voice to hear and we cry in anger when we cannot feel

            you near we doubt your goodness we doubt your love as if every promise from       

your word is not enough All the while you hear each desperate plea and long

that we’d have faith to believe.


When friends betray us when darkness seems to win we know that pain reminds     

This heart that this is not, this is not our home It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops what if your healing comes

through tears what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know

your near What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the

revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy and what if trials of this life

the rain, the storms, the darkest nights are your mercies in disguise.
Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC