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Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

mother & daughterLet’s keep rolling with opportunity #5…

#5 — MENTOR SELF-CONTROL
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us . . . to purify for Himself a people . . . who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:12-13).

Take a step toward happiness by learning to control your nature. In a fallen world, men and women must daily fight our natural tendency to sin. Parents in civilized societies have always known the wisdom of helping boys suppress two of their natural tendencies: strong sexual desires and a predilection to aggression or even violence. Likewise, parents in civilized societies have understood the wisdom of helping girls suppress their natural tendency to be ruled by emotions. Why is a woman who lives by her feelings and emotions less likely to be happy or content? What is the effect on others when a woman lets her emotions dictate her behavior? Visit Titus 2 for Life.

Resist following your heart. Ponder the following statements: “When it’s time to make a decision, I’ll trust my heart.” “He told me he loved me. The moment felt so right and my heart said ‘yes’”. “Some people say he’s not right for me, but I’m following my heart.” Can we trust our heart? What does God say in Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; and Matthew 15:19? How can we help younger women train their hearts and minds? See Psalm 119:41-48; Proverbs 16:20; and Matthew 22:37.

Stay in training and run the race. St. Paul encourages believers to “run the race”, not “aimlessly” but with self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). The world convinces women that we have the right to dress, speak, or act however we please. At what point do our “rights” hinder others? Can our lack of self-control put the faith of others at risk? A pastor’s wife used the ten-lesson Bible study I wrote entitled Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up with her volley-ball team at Christian camp (#LFLDFL, downloadable PDF from Concordia Publishing House). Her goal was to help the girls “exercise self-control in all things”, including their dress and behavior, so that they could be of help and not hindrance to young men who are also trying to “run the race” of faithfulness. Another resource for moms to use with daughters is Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre (Amazon).

Prepare young women to practice self-control with the goal of guarding their body, mind and soul. Mothers of daughters will find a great deal of biological wisdom in the book Unprotected by Miriam Grossman, M.D. (Amazon). As a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Grossman treated some 2000 young women whose physical and emotional lives were impacted by sexually-transmitted infections, depression, abortion, and fertility issues. Fed up by the feminist ideology that insists that women are the same as men, Dr. Grossman left her position to tell the world why a woman’s body is more vulnerable and how to avoid physical, psychological and spiritual harm caused by unnecessary behavior. Purchase copies of the book for your local pregnancy resource center and young women in high school and college.

Be faithful in times of waiting. It’s not easy to wait for something wonderful. Too often, times of waiting stretch out for months and even years. While we wait, we can choose to be foolish or wise. A foolish woman anticipates good things but is not prepared to wait and does not have extra oil for her lamp (Matthew 25:1-13). A wise woman anticipates good things to come by keeping her lamp of faith burning brightly. When the waiting gets long, she doesn’t need to fear darkness and despair because her hope is sustained by the means of grace, namely God’s Word and Holy Communion. She remembers her Baptism and trusts her identity as a daughter of God in Christ Jesus. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she lives for Him rather than herself. Why do you think that “patience” and “self-control” are fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? While a young woman anticipates something wonderful in her life—most especially Jesus’ second coming—how might an older woman help her bear “good fruit” in her attitude, work habits and love for her neighbor? Does your congregational family intentionally mentor from one generation to the next?

What’s Next?  #6: Mentor the Vocation of Motherhood

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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This week I will be speaking twice.  In my home town.

I am nervous.  Unable to focus.  Doubtful.   It isn’t that I doubt the mentoring ministry I represent.   Nearly every day I see evidence that our culture has lost its way.  That we’ve forgotten (or never been told) how to live as men and women.   The Word of God compels me more today than it did when I was first nudged from my comfort zone to begin Titus 2 for Life.

But, I’m a person affected by environment.  I’ve been known to take a candle along with me on a trip just in case the hotel room is cold and unwelcoming.  I’m also affected by other people.  It matters to me that relationships are built, not destroyed.   I’m acutely aware of body language.  Once, while speaking about a controversial issue, I heard a scribbling noise.  To my side, a woman was pressing her pencil hard on a page in her study guide.  Head bent down, whole body engaged, she blackened the paper with great sweeping motions.   Was she angry… or hurting?   Whichever, she had my attention: How should I respond?

So, what happens when speaking in my own home town?  To the people with whom I live?  I’m extra sensitive to my closest neighbors and tender relationships.  Differing perspectives.  Maturity and immaturity.  A sense — or lack — of humor.  Personal history.  Agreement.  Disagreement.  Defenses down… or up.  Do I only imagine it, or does the room close in?  Confuse my thoughts?  Leave me a bumbling fool?   What words can I utter that will be right for everyone?  These people with real lives… my closest neighbors?

His Words.  Not mine.  His Truth.  Not my opinion.

Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Do not add to His words . . . (Proverbs 30:5).”

I covet your prayer: His Truth from my mouth.  For the sake of my neighbors.

Maybe I will take a candle.

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Maura is “hooked,” but she has faith in the Savior of her life.  His Word is real to her.  It will speak to her conscience.  Maura also has a friend who will be honest with her and always remind her why setting boundaries and guarding body, mind and soul is healthy and hopeful.

But, Nichole has faith in the things of the world.  She doesn’t have a friend who will be honest with her.  She, too, is “hooked,” but doesn’t realize it.   Nichole, like Maura and most every other young (or older) woman, doesn’t know about neurochemicals.

Oxytocin is a neurochemical.  It is present in both male and female, but is primarily active in females.  The female body releases oxytocin at four different times.  Take note!  Each has to do with procreation and the care of children.  Oxytocin is released:

  • During meaningful or intimate touching with another person (Action: bonding and trust)
  • During sexual intercourse (Action: bonding and trust)
  • During the onset of labor in a pregnant woman (Action: causes uterine contractions, results in birth)
  • After baby’s delivery (Action: stimulates nipples and produces flow of milk from mom for nursing)

How does the human race continue?  God said that husband and wife would become “one flesh.”  Sexual intimacy results not only in the bonding of two people, but in procreation.  Oxytocin plays a vital role in the continuation of the human race.  With sexual touch, the woman’s brain is flooded with oxytocin.  She wants to be with the man she has bonded to.  Long-term connectedness often results in healthy male-female relationships.  It is actually rare for an American woman in an intact marriage to have sexual intercourse with anyone except her husband.  Such stability is affected by oxytocin.  Think of the significance.  The bonding of father and mother greatly increases the chance for a child to be raised in a healthy, two-parent home.  Such a child is blessed, not necessarily with a perfect home (do they exist?), but with a hopeful environment for becoming all God desires them to be.

The world speaks about the emotions of love.  The emotions of connectedness.  In reality, the desire to connect is more than an emotional feeling.  Bonding is like glue.  And it can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain.

Whether Maura or Nichole realize it, they are “hooked” to the men with whom they are sexually intimate.  The flow of oxytocin serves to promote trust.  Oxytocin will trigger the bonding process even if a girl hasn’t “gone all the way,” but has kissed and hugged a boy.  For this reason, if he wants to “do more,” it will become increasingly difficult for her to say “no.”  Parents!  Do you know this?  When you allow your thirteen-year-old daughter to spend long periods of time with a boy, you are placing her in serious jeopardy.  Her protective boundary of modesty and inhibition will gradually break down with each kiss, each touch, each pledge of love… even though the boy she’s with has no intention of marrying her or having children with her.

Maura’s confession to me said it all.  “. . . It’s so very strange.  The more time I spend with my boyfriend, the more I need to be with him.”  Does Nichole find herself in the same circumstance?  Before a well-meaning counselor, Planned Parenthood clinic, or parent gets her on The Pill (or whatever), do they tell her about oxytocin?  Do they explain that she’s going to be “hooked” because neurochemicals are doing what they’re supposed to do?

The cruelty is this.  Our culture removes all the boundaries.  It encourages sexual activity among boys and girls.  Then it washes its hands by saying, “We explained how to do this safely.”  But, who turns off the oxytocin?  Maura has difficulty breaking with the boyfriend who isn’t good for her because she has bonded with him.  Nichole has been in several intimate relationships.  She has “hooked up.”  Has “friends with benefits.”  All seems so casual.  So harmless.  So sophisticated.  But, oxytocin is at work.  Every time that Nichole and her “friend” break up and she moves on to a new sexual partner, a bond is being broken.  This is emotional.  Painful.  Sometimes paralyzing.

In truth, being sexually intimate with one person, breaking up, and being sexually intimate with another is like a divorce.  Repeating this cycle again and again places a girl in danger of negative emotional consequences.  Nichole doesn’t realize it, but she is acting against — actually fighting — her own body and the way she was designed to function.  Eventually, damage is done to her brain’s natural connecting or bonding mechanism.

Sexual intimacy, as Maura has discovered, is addictive.  But, she has the hope for change in God’s Word and the honesty of a friend.  What does Nichole have?  Who will speak on her behalf?  Who will guard her body?  Mind?  Soul?

(Source: Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children  by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D.)

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Relationships grow when rooted in the love of Christ.  Christ’s love was shown in the doing of a hard thing.  Christ’s love was sacrificial.  We don’t have to sacrifice for our salvation.  Jesus Christ did that on the Cross for us.  It’s done… once and for all.  Believing that, we’re called to live as forgiven people who also forgive others.  In a working marriage, husband and wife are constantly forgiving each other.  A particular “need” or “want” may be sacrificed for the sake of the relationship.  Such sacrifice cannot be measured, but is a fragrant offering to God.

During my lifetime, women have been told they have the right to have their needs met.   A “good” husband is expected to meet those needs.  But, what if he doesn’t?

Time and experience wrapped in God’s Word speak.

“I thought I could change him.”

A friend wasted so many years trying to “fix” her husband.  She pushed, prodded and regularly reminded him of his failures.  In time, she realized that her techniques never worked.  Instead of trying to change him, she asked God for a changed attitude.  Little by little, she learned that it was her job to love her husband and God’s job to change him.  1 Peter 3:1-5 reminds a wife that she can win even an unbelieving husband with respect, pure conduct, and a quiet spirit.

“He doesn’t make me happy.”

A friend admitted that she was very dependent on her husband for her happiness.  She married him because he seemed strong, stable, and confident.  She expected him to take care of her like a good dad would take care of his daughter.  So focused on her own insecurities, she didn’t see that he, too, was sometimes fearful, unsure, and struggling.  One day, she adjusted her prayers.  “Please, dear God, help me be a better wife.”  She welcomed him at the door with a smile.  She asked him about his day.  She left cheerful and encouraging notes on his mirror, by his plate, and inside his boots.  It sounds rather magical, but in choosing her words with care and thinking of little ways to make her husband happy, this wife became more content.  She had a purpose.  She was serving God and He was surprising her with joy.  Joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

“I feel more worthless with him than I think I would without him.”

A woman does not get her identity from her husband.  Treasured or abused, her value does not come from man.  Nor does our identity change with the circumstances of life.  Our identity — our value — is sure and certain because of what Jesus Christ did for us.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

“He’s such a disappointment.”

For many years, the wife mourned her marriage.  She was sure that God had made a mistake.  We’re too different, she thought.  This will never work.  Quite unexpectedly, the woman realized she really wasn’t fighting her husband, she was fighting God.  Focusing on her disappointment, she was paralyzed to think or do good.  Over time, she began to zero in on her husband’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses.  Every time he acted in an annoying way, she chose to think about his positive attributes.  She stopped criticizing him to her friends and started speaking well of him.  People of light “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 4:5, 11).

“He doesn’t seem to care about meeting my needs.”

No matter what the feminists told us, men and women aren’t the same.  Equal, yep.  But, not the same.  So, first of all, men can’t know all of our needs because they don’t think, feel, or communicate like we do.  And, second of all, shame on us for idolizing ourselves!  Are we called to be served, or to serve?  Honestly, who really knows our needs: us… or the One who made us?  A wife of many years put it this way: “I’ve learned that my husband is meeting my greatest needs.  His faithfulness is my security.  His labor provides financial covering and numerous freedoms.  Our shared faith makes us companions even when times are hard.   Does he love me?  Yes.  It is shown in his perseverance (1 Corinthians 13:7).”

“I don’t feel loved.”

Maybe we have the wrong definition of love.  If it’s an emotion, sometimes we’ll feel it and sometimes we won’t.  Love is better defined as the willingness to act for the benefit of another.  Love is being patient, kind, and unselfish (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).  I have found that love is when a husband and wife, in spite of differences, want to be a team.  “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11).  This is a world made hard by sin.  When the enemy of life stands at the door ready to devour us, feelings and emotions will provide little defense.  But, real love evidenced by selfless partnership will overpower evil.   “A threefold cord (husband, wife, and Christ) is not quickly broken” (v. 12).

“Everyday, he grows more distant.”

A woman has great power.  She can break or make a man.  She can crush a man’s spirit — with a look or a word — or she can help his spirit soar.  When she emasculates him, brashly or subtly, her dagger slices deep to his masculine core to attack his very personhood.  No wonder it is better for him “to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9).  Indeed, “the wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1).

Marriage is a hard dance.  Not surprising when we remember that we are sinful people living in a sin-filled world.  Not surprising when we acknowledge that men and women are equal, but different.  Not surprising when we consider our uniqueness as persons.  For this reason, we need the Word of God as our music.  Only then does the dance begin to change. 

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What does God say to women?  His letter to us reads something like this:

Dear Daughter,

I loved you before I created you.  You are my masterpiece.  But, sin has distorted My perfect creation.  Sinful people are challenged by difficult choices.  You, My daughter, are tempted by feelings and emotions.  You can’t trust these emotions, but you can always trust Me.  Your life is of such value to Me that I came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ — the God become Man willing to rescue you from the consequences of sin.  I paid the highest price for you.

Because of this great price, your body is not your own — to do with as you please.  It was covered by the Robe of Righteousness when Jesus shed His blood on the Cross.  The sacrifice of Jesus, your Savior, made you a new creation.  You have the promise of heaven.  I don’t want you to be hurt.  I don’t want your heart to be broken or your body abused.  So please, daughter.  Guard your body, mind, and soul by making choices that glorify Me.

It’s o.k. to rebel.  Rebel against all that is sinful and wrong in this world.  Dare to be different from those who follow worldly opinions.  They chase after popularity and selfish ambitions.  When they do wrong, they want you to do wrong, too.  They say, “Follow your heart,” or “Do whatever feels right for you.”  But, a sinful heart cannot be trusted.  It is filled with all manner of bad things.  Your feelings and moods blow with the wind.  They are high and low like a rollercoaster.  Look to Me, My daughter.  I never change.  You can trust your life to Me.  I know you better than you know yourself.  I know your thoughts… your desires… your needs.  You are never alone in My world.

I didn’t create you to be sexy, but holy.  Practice modesty in the way you speak, act, and dress.  Call attention not to yourself, but to Me — the One who made you.  Show your beauty not by revealing your body, but revealing your love for Me.  Resist being a temptress and, instead, lead others away from sin with its ugly consequences.

Be alert to deception.  My daughter, if you acknowledge Me to be God, your Father, then you also acknowledge the evil one who opposes me and despises you.  He hates you because I love you so much.  He will try to deceive you.  He knows when you are vulnerable.  He will tempt you with one question, “Did your Father really say . . .?”  Then, when you doubt Me and fall to deception and sin, the tempter becomes your accuser, “Look at what you have done!  Can your Father ever forgive you?”

Oh, yes, My daughter.  I can and do forgive.  There is nothing you need to do but confess your sin.  In your sorrow, I reach down to lift you from despair and secure the Robe of Righteousness tighter around you.  Forgiven and set free, you are no longer captive to your past.   Satan may tempt you again and again, but I have given you dominion over the father of lies.

Don’t let anyone look down on you for being young.  Instead, let your speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity be an example for others.  Entrust your life to Me.  I’m not a god of chaos, but the God of order and beautiful design.  I made you to be a woman.  Live as a woman — My daughter — while you wait for Jesus to return for you.

Your identity is not found in your appearance or what you do.  Your identity is a creation of God and the treasure for whom Christ gave all He had.  No matter the circumstances in your life, that identity remains.

I am the King… the Lord of life.  Think of what that makes you, My daughter.

With the greatest love of all,

Your Heavenly Father

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