Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Special Bond

Through the years I have seen all kinds of family problems. Certain children and adolescents manifest significant emotional stress in their lives. Some exhibit overt behavioral difficulties in school, the home and other social settings. Others experience traumatic events that leave them with feelings of fear and abandonment. Still others even ponder the meaning of their existence. These same adolescents come to see the world as an unsafe place full of people who cannot be trusted. They fight feelings of self-hatred and low self-esteem and do not know how to cope with stressful situations. These overwhelming feelings often become life-long dysfunctional patterns.

Many times the one missing component in these children’s lives is the bond between a mother and child that transforms the child’s development. This maternal-bond that God gives to the child and the mother is a wonderful gift. How we are amazed at children regardless of the age that show respect and honor to their parents. How does that happen? Where do children learn to respect their mother and father? I submit to you today that it starts with the mother.

A mother has a very special place in a child’s life. What she does with it will make all the difference in the world for that child. This bond helps form a child’s personality and opens doors of healthy development for the child the rest of his or her life. It is a bond that says, “I will love you with unconditional love no matter what you do.” A bond that says, “I love you child, and you are the delight of my life.” A bond that says, “I want the best for you, and I will do everything in my power to help you be your best.”  A bond that says, “I will teach you how to know the difference between right and wrong,” and “I will show you what has real meaning in life and what is just superficial.” A bond that says, “I will show you how to control your emotions and not allow them to control you, and teach you how to control yourself so you are not controlled by other people.” A bond that says, “I will teach you how to be a critical thinker and not a critic of other people’s weaknesses.” A bond that says, “I will teach you how to forgive so that you do not become resentful, and when I make a mistake I will ask your forgiveness.” A bond that says, “I will show you how to be flexible and trust God to help you when you don’t know what to do instead of becoming stubborn and anxious.” A bond that says, “I will teach you how to treat people with respect and dignity and teach you how you should expect to be treated by others.” A bond that says, “With God’s help you will be ready to live life on your own when the time comes.”

This bond with the mother teaches the child how to live, how to love, how to trust, how to worship, and how to die. This is what a godly mother does for each of us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


This week I have been reminded of Heaven three different times because three people from our congregation have died. Death always brings sadness because death is part of the curse. It brings departure, separation and sorrow. Death, however, for the Christian is different than it is for the unbeliever. Yes, we do experience sadness and sorrow at seeing someone we love leave us, but we are also greatly comforted. We are consoled because we know they are with the Lord in heaven. We honor our loved ones with a memorial service and Christian burial because we cherish their memories and expect that their bodies will be raised from the dead. When we lower the body into the ground, we already know that this is just the empty house they used to occupy, and we remind ourselves that God is not yet finished with that body, and he will one day transform it into a glorified body capable of living in an eternal heaven.

We are burdened with sorrow for their loss when we see the body no longer has life, but it also reminds us that our loved one is with Jesus. For that reason, no matter how much we miss them, we do not want to bring them back because they are comforted in the presence of the Lord.

Paul reminded us that “…to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord.”
(2 Cor. 5:8). Job knew that no matter what happened, his body would not remain in the dirt forever but that he would be resurrected. He said it like this, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26). One of my all-time favorite verses about the resurrection is from Isaiah, “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead” (Isaiah 26:19).  Jesus told us that our dead bodies would one day hear his voice and come to life, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear [my] voice” (John 5:28).

Paul very eloquently described our bodies here on this earth, with all our sicknesses and debilitating infirmities, and he also described what our bodies would be like in heaven. The difference is startling. “…The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, It is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

The earthly body is perishable, but the heavenly body is imperishable. The earthly body dishonors us with our sicknesses and disabilities, but our heavenly body will be glorious. Our earthly body knows weakness—pitiful weakness, but our heavenly body will be powerful. I’m not exactly sure how our bodies will be in detail, but I believe as John says, “…what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Ultimate Rorschach

You may have heard of the test where a person looks at inkblots and tells a story of what he sees. That is a very popular psychological test. Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach created the now famous Rorschach Test in 1921. It consists of a psychologist interpreting the responses of a person to 10 bilaterally symmetrical inkblots. Most describe the test as a projective tool in which the participant reveals who he is and what he thinks. If he is depressed and has developed a pessimistic view, he will view the cards and describe his narrative in that frame of mind. If he sees the world from an optimistic viewpoint and has healthy thoughts, he will interpret the cards from that perspective.

I actually believe in an Ultimate Rorschach, which is God’s Word. The Bible has the unique ability of exposing what is inside of our hearts. For example, Proverbs 8:9 says,
All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. God’s Word is reasonable to the reasonable person. How we receive and experience God’s Word reveals who we are.

One of the reasons some people don’t like the Bible is they don’t like what it reveals about their own heart. God never has been timid about telling us the truth about ourselves. James conveys the same idea in his epistle:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

It would be incredibly silly for a person to get angry at the mirror for how they look, but that is no different than rejecting God’s Word because of how it reveals our inner nature. James talks about seeing yourself through God’s truth and deciding to do something about it. If we don’t like what we see in the mirror, each of us can do something about it.

I want to encourage you today to allow the Bible to speak to you, and when it gets uncomfortable, don’t run away, just ask God for his help. Paul said this is what God’s Word does for us when we allow it:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, (2 Tim 3:16-17).