Dealing with Devistating Thoughts

I doubt that there are any of us who have not  been hounded by bad thoughts at one time or another.  These are the kind of thoughts that continue to reappear in the theater of our minds and rerun constantly, performance after performance; nagging, negative notions,  ideas, and even temptations that refuse to leave us in peace.  Malissa McLaughlin addressed the issue brilliantly in her Truthful Grace blog.  The article appeared at: melissamclaughlin.org  as:  How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?  I so appreciate the skillful way that Ms. McLaughlin uses Scripture as a powerful tool to defeat the evil thoughts that plague us.  RMF

How Can I Get Rid of Bad Thoughts?

By Melissa McLaughlin

Photo by Frank K on Pexels.com

Melissa McLaughlin

We had just arrived home after visiting my parents for a home-cooked dinner. Mom packed us a hefty bag of leftovers, our very own “goodie bag”. My mom’s special recipe crispy chicken, homemade apple sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. Mmm, mmm, good! But the crowning touch was her chocolate cake. Oh my! There is no chocolate cake like my mom’s chocolate cake! Rich, moist, decadent chocolate cake topped with melted Hershey bar icing. A chocolate lover’s dream!

As I put away the leftovers, I placed the slices of chocolate cake in the cupboard for tomorrow. In order to avoid overindulging, I promised myself I would save this delightful and delectable treat for tomorrow night’s dessert.

(As a lover of chocolate anything I relate to this obsessive thought illustration. RMF)

No sooner had I set this reasonable and healthy boundary for myself, than thoughts of this chocolate cake bombarded my mind like a torrential hailstorm! Why should I wait? It would taste so good right now, even though I was already full from the meal we had just eaten. It is a homemade delicacy that I don’t often get to enjoy. Why wait? Why wait even one more second?

Like a walk in summer fields where nettles and prickers attach themselves to the very fibers of our clothing requiring concentrated effort to extract, so thoughts of the chocolate cake clung to my mind with a fierce and unyielding grip. What a war can take place in our thoughts!

I enjoyed that piece of cake the next day for dessert, savoring the flavor to the fullest, not despite having to wait, but because of having waited. Chocolate heaven!

In this case my thoughts were captivated by something good, my mom’s chocolate cake. But sometimes, our thoughts become hyper-focused on things that are not good. Continue reading

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Sexuality God’s Way

For years I’ve appreciated the work of Gary Thomas, the author of some great books on marriage including  Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?  I just came across an article by Mr. Thomas which I believe is right on target for what is needed in a thriving marriage.  According to the author: “This post is to unmask unhealthy relating in order to point you elsewhere toward a place of healing and redemption.”  With our society’s clearly unhealthy  obsession with sex it is wonderful to read some honest truth about the subject.

This article originally appeared  at: www.garythomas.com  as 6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality. Mr. Thomas is a writer in residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on spiritual formation at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and Houston Theological Seminary in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 18 books, other than Sacred Marriage including:  Sacred Pathways, Cherish, Sacred Parenting, and  Authentic Faith. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Western Seminary. See Mr.Thomas’  latest book here.  RMF

6 Marks of Healthy Sexuality
Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas

What are the marks of a healthy sexual relationship?
It’s not inappropriate to ask what is most pleasurable or most exciting for married couples, but meaningful lovemaking is so much more than creating greater sexual arousal and climaxes. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to also ask “What are the markers of a wholesome sexual experience that is accomplishing God’s relational intent?”
In my view, “healthy” protects happy pleasure;  it doesn’t threaten it.
I write this post with a bit of pastoral concern: Lisa and I have met some wives (and the occasional husband) who felt tempted to compromise their faith and even their own sense of sanity because they realized after getting married that their spouse has some sexual hang-ups.

The Gary and Lisa Thomas family

At first, they thought the best thing to do was to “go along.” Going along never works; it just prolongs the inevitable crisis. Nursing an unhealthy inclination never makes things better; it just makes the way back a little longer and ultimately more difficult.
Seeking a healthy sexual relationship is a fair and good and wise and holy pursuit.
These six marks aren’t exhaustive; I’m sure there are many more, but here’s a short, non-scientific test to see how you and your spouse are doing in regards to sexual intimacy.

Healthy sex is relational

1 Christian sex is always relational sex.
Any sexual experience divorced from relational connecting isn’t healthy sex. Pornography, voyeurism, predatory touching, any form of paying for sex, exhibitionism, group sex, anonymous sex, or objectifying marital sex all have the same common denominator: sex divorced from relational connecting. Most forms of sexual deviancy include a separation between sex and emotional connection.
In a biblical view of sex, physical intimacy draws husband and wife ever closer together. After the intimacy is over they smile, hold on to a very pleasant shared memory, and their bond is deepened accordingly. Unhealthy sex further isolates an already damaged person. They “wake up” from the sexual experience, feel increased shame (making him/her a little less capable of authentic intimacy) and want to hide what just happened from everyone instead of remember it fondly with a special someone.
Healthy sex says to each (willing) participant: “You matter. You are desired. You are cherished. I am not having sex with a body but making love to you as my special 3-dimensional (body, mind mixed with emotions, and spirit) spouse. I affirm you and want to please you.”
Be wary of any form of sexual excitement or fulfillment that is separate from appropriate relational connection. If it’s not drawing husband and wife closer together, it’s not healthy. Continue reading

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An End to War? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Do you, like me, find it sad to read in Scripture that there will be wars and rumors of wars?   

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7 (ESV, English Standard Version)

“You will hear of wars nearby and revolutions on every side, with more rumors of wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for the breaking apart of the world’s systems is destined to happen. But it won’t yet be the end; it will still be unfolding.” Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7  (TPT, The Passion Translation)

The accuracy of that prophecy has certainly been validated to this date.  And every beauty pageant contestant knows that wishing for “world peace” is a real judge pleaser (along with ending world hunger).  

One of my favorite columnists, Dr. Clifford D. May, just weighed in on the enduring nature of war in the following article which appeared first as: Why endless wars can’t be ended at the:  The Washington Times.   I believe you’ll appreciate his analysis.  RMF

Why endless wars can’t be ended
There’s no chance America’s enemies will leave us in peace.
Clifford D. May
(Founder & President of Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

Clifford D. May

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato made that incisive observation a rather long time ago. Yet a surprising number of politicians, journalists and think tank denizens continue to affix bumper stickers to their Priuses (if they’re on the left) and SUVs (if they’re on the right) demanding an end to “endless wars.”

President Obama’s approach to national security was based on the comforting notion that the “the tide of war is receding.” He vowed “to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” and to “bring our troops home from Afghanistan.” The possibility of a linkage between these two battlegrounds didn’t occur to him.

His withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was followed by the rise of the Islamic State. Three years later he would reluctantly send U.S. troops back to Iraq.

He would go on to give the revolutionary Islamists next door in Iran – responsible for killing hundreds of Americans – billions of dollars in exchange for their promise to develop nuclear weapons more slowly. This was, for them, the deal of the century but that did not prompt them to revise their often-chanted goal of “Death to America!”

Mr. Obama also signaled to the Taliban that its patience and determination would pay off – just, please, not on his watch.

Given this background, President Trump now faces tough choices. While he, too, is eager to end endless wars, he also aims to “make America great again.” Can that be achieved with Obama 2.0 policies? Can that be achieved if self-proclaimed jihadis – Sunni or Shia, Persian, Arab or Afghan – have Americans on the run? Continue reading

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So, How dusty are you?

Stan Rodda is the Campus Pastor for New Life Christian Church‘s Linton Hall Campus.  More than that, he is a super neat guy who really gets Jesus’ commission for His followers to make disciples who make disciples and to serve as witnesses to others.  The following blog post focuses on this theme and how exactly we are to go about being disciples in action and not just in the way Christians often like to imagine themselves – but without anything of substance to back it up.  Stan’s blog post appeared first as:  4 Imperatives to Improving Obedience to Jesus at: stanrodda.com.  And, this is a link to a video of Stan’s message on disciple making.  Incidentally, if you’re interested in learning more about what it means to be a disciple covered in the dust of Jesus you might like: Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg.  RMF

4 Imperatives to Improving Obedience to Jesus

by Stan Rodda

In the western part of the state of North Carolina lies a gorgeous town called, Asheville. My family and I love this town and vacation there every year or two. Home to amazing music and gorgeous scenery, there’s so much to love about Asheville.

My family and I were in Asheville recently and stopped to visit an awesome spot called Moog Music. In 1964 Dr. Robert Moog introduced an entirely new kind of instrument with the modular synthesizer. We played with some of the equipment as a family and had a lot of fun making the craziest sounds and looping tracks to create whatever music we could. We had a great time.

We were only in the store for around 45 minutes. In that amount of time there is very little that we fully understand about synthesizers. I’ll speak for myself; I don’t understand how those crazy things work. It’s fascinating to me, truly. But to those who work at Moog Music with those synthesizers day in and day out, they understand every knob, button and dial at an intimate level. When one of these masters gets their hands on this machine, that synthesizer responds immediately and beautiful music is created.


50th Anniversary of the Moog Modular Synthesizer

If I could hope for one thing spiritually, it would be to experience Jesus at that level of intimacy. To be that responsive at the commands of Christ. That every twist of a dial in the hands of Jesus, transforms my life in brand new, unique ways. That the adventure of following Jesus never gets old because I am simply obedient to the One who was creative enough to design a universe. That’s what I want as a disciple of Jesus. And that’s the exact picture we get when Jesus says…

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 NIV] Continue reading

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Life: More Than Physics and Chemistry

For several years it has seemed to me that the probability  that life evolved from matter was essentially zero.  Years ago C.S. Lewis wrote:

“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are accidents- the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.”  ~ C. S. Lewis ~

The following article by Professor George Stanciu is to me a riveting exploration  of  this topic.  It appeared as: DNA and Soul at: The Imaginative Conservative

RMF

DNA and Soul
By George Stanciu

George Stanciu

We have arrived at an astounding conclusion, at a complete reversal of the customary way most scientists and laymen understand Homo sapiens and nature: Our entire life is a consequence of human mind and Divine Mind, not of the interactions of little bits of matter. Mind is primary, not matter.  ~ George Stanciu ~

In scientific circles, the suggestion that the soul is not an outmoded concept is typically greeted with disbelief, ridicule, or laughter, because virtually every scientist holds that the laws of physics and chemistry either now or will in the future explain everything. For most biologists, their discipline is an extension of the science of matter.

Biologist Peter Medawar asserts that “biology is not ‘just’ physics and chemistry, but a very limited, very special, and profoundly interesting part of them.”[1] Biologist Edgar Mercer agrees: “Most scientists in practice behave as if they believed that only matters of convenience or convention separate physics from biology; or to put it another way, they act on a belief that there is really only one science.”[2] The discovery of the helical structure of DNA, the so-called “master molecule of life,” is taken by scientists and laypersons alike as overwhelming proof that life results from physics, not a nonmaterial soul.

Surprisingly, the prevailing opinion that biology is just complicated physics does not hold up to rigorous scientific examination. Continue reading

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Bringing Francis Schaeffer Back to Mind

Brett Andrews

  I just received the following note from Brett Andrews, the senior pastor at New Life Christian Church which is where I worship. Because of my deep admiration of Brett I’m always anxious to know what he is thinking and what has his attention.  I was especially interested in this note from Brett due to my interest in science and because I am a long-time admirer of Francis Schaeffer, an American Evangelical theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor who was opposed to theological modernism and promoted an orthodox Christian faith.  
I became acquainted with Dr. Schaeffer’s work through seeing his How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture video series. It had a major impact on my thinking as a Christian who was newly, at the time, starting to take my faith very seriously. The series, now 40 plus years old, is an accurate preview of what we observe in today’s moral and spiritual confusion. Dr. Schaeffer detailed the trajectory of culture and philosophical thinking away from the Judeo-Christian worldview toward a godless humanistic philosophy. The muddled thinking we witness daily with the loss of moral and ethical clarity is even more pronounced now than when chronicled by Schaeffer. We now witness a full-blown godless philosophy which has captured much of government, academia, and the media. Schaeffer’s predictions regarding the downward spiral of culture have proven true and his views, which were widely critiqued at the time, are, I believe, fully vindicated.  Anyway, following is the note I received from Brett: RMF Continue reading

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Far Away and It’s a Good Thing

Astronomy and especially the topic of black holes fascinate me.  Just the idea that black holes are so massive that even light cannot escape from their grasp and that anything that comes within a certain distance of a black hole is doomed to be gobbled up by the black hole can consume hours of contemplation without yielding a clear understanding, at least by me, of how that can be.  So, when I came upon this article by Christian Apologist Hugh Ross I immediately decided to capture it for this blog.  The Hugh Ross article appeared first at: Reasons.org as: No Nearby Nasty Supermassive Black Holes.  I hope you enjoy it.  RMF

No Nearby Nasty Supermassive Black Holes

Hugh Ross

Medical doctors tell us that it is not good for our health and wellbeing to possess a pot belly. They warn us, too, that the bigger the pot belly in proportion to our total body weight the greater the impact on our health, wellbeing, and longevity. As it is for human beings, so, too, for galaxies.

Galaxies, like humans, possess a core where a significant proportion of their total mass resides. Unlike humans, part of a galaxy’s core mass becomes super dense. When that nucleus collapses it forms a supermassive black hole.

A supermassive black hole (SMBH) has a mass that exceeds one million times the Sun’s mass. All medium, large, and giant galaxies possess a SMBH in the central part of their core. Dwarf galaxies and globular clusters also possess massive central black holes in their cores, though these black hole masses typically range between a few thousand and a few million times the Sun’s mass. Continue reading

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