TED Talk: Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care

Artist and poet Cleo Wade recites a moving poem about being an advocate for love and acceptance in a time when both seem in short supply. Woven between stories of people at the beginning and end of their lives, she shares some truths about growing up (and speaking up) and reflects on the wisdom of a life well-lived, leaving us with a simple yet enduring takeaway: be good to yourself, be good to others, be good to the earth. “The world will say to you, ‘Be a better person,'” Wade says. “Do not be afraid to say, ‘Yes.'”

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Reblog: Why Kids Need Rules and Consequences

But They’ll Be Mad at Me: Why Kids Need Rules and Consequences

by Katelyn Alcamo, LCMFT

It will come as no surprise that in my work as a middle school therapist, I come across kids who test boundaries, break rules, and make poor choices. It is also not uncommon to meet with parents at a loss for what to do and how to regain control.

Raising an adolescent is one of the most challenging jobs a parent will have. Suddenly you go from raising a sweet and affectionate child to managing a moody and rebellious teen. You might wonder what happened to the child you once knew. You also might find that the parentingstrategies you once relied on no longer work.

While it is not all bad, it is easy for parents to get overwhelmed by the social, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen during adolescence.

Many parents don’t reach out for help until things have gotten out of control. When I meet a family for the first time, I am often meeting desperate parents who have tried everything in their bag of tricks to improve things, to little or no avail. By that point, the family has become quite entrenched in negative patterns.

During the first session or so, I explore with the parents the strategies they have used to address any concerns. Often parents report that they yell, lecture, threaten consequences, or try to rationalize with their teen. I follow up by asking which strategies have worked and which have not. No surprise, yelling often leads to escalation; lecturing doesn’t garner the desired response, and how can one rationalize with an irrational teenage brain?

Despite their desperation to change things, many parents tell me that they don’t often follow through with any threatened consequences. And why not? “Because they’ll be mad at me,” I’m inevitably told.

I am often incredulous. Of course teens will be mad when there is a consequence, especially a meaningful one. Trying to prevent a teen from being mad at you is like trying to prevent a baby from crying. Good luck.

So why this avoidance of angering a teenager? I believe the reason is both selfish and selfless. First, what parent wants to deal with a sulking, bitter, angry teenager? No parent I know, including me. And it is understandable for parents to want to be loved by their children. We sacrifice so much and work so hard to love and care for our kids. It is validating to get that love in return.

We are programmed to want to make our children happy. This desire often translates to avoidance of anything that makes our child upset, including enforcing consequences for negative behaviors.

Why would we want to make our child upset when there is enough adversity in the world? Let me tell you.

Rules and consequences are important for every child. Despite how they may act, teens need rules and boundaries so they can both test them and feel protected by them. Creating structure and having predictable responses helps teens learn to self-regulate. It also helps them learn from their mistakes.

Raising a teen is like bowling with bumpers. Sometimes the bumpers take the form of support and validation and sometimes they’re in the form of rules and consequences. Regardless, they serve to gently guide teens down a healthy and successful path. Not having rules and consequences is like removing the bumpers before your teen has developed the skills to function in the world.

Allowing your child to express anger in a safe environment also helps them to develop emotional intelligence. If you are constantly shielding them from frustration, anger, or sadness, they may not learn how to regulate these emotions or how to express them in socially appropriate ways. It is important to remember that parenting isn’t about being liked. Giving in on rules and consequences makes it harder for teens to engage in a world where there are rules and consequences.

Read the rest here.

Reblog: Women Are the Talk of 2018’s Southern Baptist Annual Meeting

by Christianity Today (Kate Shellnutt) June 12, 2018

Both officially and unofficially, leaders of America’s largest Protestant denomination turn their attention to better responses to sexism and abuse.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a lot to talk about at its two-day annual meeting kicking off today in Dallas. This year, amid the standard business of elections, entity updates, worship sets, and messages, leaders of America’s largest Protestant body have brought unprecedented attention to the women in its churches and its pastoral response to abuse.

2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of women attending the SBC annual meeting as messengers. At least two proposed resolutions up for consideration directly address the role of women in the complementarian denomination. But unofficially, the conversation is much bigger than that.

Many have awaited this national Southern Baptist gathering—the first since what some have deemed the #MeToo movement’s entry into evangelicalism—as grounds to engage an issue its leaders can no longer downplay.

At the start of the year, Southern Baptists watched as a decades-old, unreported sexual assault at a Houston Baptist congregation led to the resignation of two pastors, including the perpetrator Andy Savage, who went from being infamously applauded by his congregation to apologizing for his past immorality in a matter of weeks.

Months later, Executive Committee president Frank Page vacated the SBC’s top leadership role over an inappropriate relationship. And in recent weeks, longtime SBC figurehead Paige Patterson was forced out of his presidency at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary over his mishandling of abuse allegations after weeks of controversy over his past remarks toward women.

Like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler, who wrote last month that “judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention,” prominent leaders have pushed each other to speak and act during this public reckoning for their movement.

“The world is watching. We need to convey to the world that we care for women more than we care for our positions of power,” said Austin pastor Matt Carter, speaking Monday on a panel on abuse in the lead-up to the conference. “The church has hidden behind those power structures for too long.”

A pastor who oversaw Savage stepped down this year from Carter’s church, The Austin Stone, after the allegations became public. Carter appeared alongside Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore and Bible teacher Beth Moore, who last month called out sexism in the SBC in a viral open letter.

The popular author and speaker—herself an abuse survivor—commended Carter and Russell Moore for their resolute positions on reporting allegations to authorities, offering more resources for women to seek counsel, and spotlighting the stories of women who have undergone abuse.

But she also acknowledged the barriers that keep victims from trusting the church, even as leaders grow more open and more eager to help.

“In every case of abuse or assault is a misuse of power … it has turned on her and has done her wrong,” she explained. “By the time you’re in a church context, she’s already intimidated by power. Especially if there are not female voices, it’s just exaggerated the fear she might not be understood or not be heard.”

As they attempt to assure that the women within their denomination will be trusted and cared for, Southern Baptist leaders have been forced to recognize that this hasn’t always been the case.

“Sinful men have in Scripture and the history of the church wronged women, abused women, silenced women, objectified women by ungodly comments and ungodly acts, preyed on women, left women unprotected, failed to report injustices and evils committed against women to civil authorities established by God, and failed to act out of the overflow of the image of Christ,” reads one popular resolution submitted for today’s meeting, written by Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Allen’s submission, entitled “On Affirming the Dignity of Women and the Holiness of Ministers,” condemns comments and behaviors that disrespect women within the denomination and calls for better responses to misconduct.

“Especially as we reel from events of recent days, the value of women inside the SBC needs to be proclaimed from the biggest stages we’ve got,” said Sarah Short, who’s attending the meeting from the Summit Church in North Carolina. (Her pastor, J. D. Greear is running for SBC president). “Our brightest and most revered leaders need to say it with their mouths and our convention needs to adopt it as a resolution. It’s time.”

Another line of the draft text states, “To the shame of the Southern Baptist Convention and the very obscuring of the glory of God, a number of Southern Baptist leaders, professors, and ministers have since our last annual gathering sinned against the Lord and against women by their ungodly behavior and language.”

Read the entire article here.

Reblog: Sexual Abuse in Marriage

by Darby Strickland

This is the first in a series of three blogs on the sexual abuse of women in marriage. My goal is to help counselors and pastors to recognize when a wife is being sexually abused by her husband and then offer appropriate help. In this first blog, we will define what marital sexual abuse is. In the second, we will talk about why women might not realize what is happening to them. And in the third installment, I will offer some thoughts on how to help women in this situation.

God created marriage to be something beautiful and sacrificial in which the hearts and bodies of a man and woman are united as one. Sex is supposed to be a culmination of this emotional and spiritual relationship expressing unity, peace, and love (Gen. 2:24; Prov. 5:18-19; Song. 7:6-12). Given this foundation, the possibility that marriage could be a place where sexual abuse or violence occurs is almost unthinkable. But sadly, it does happen—and with surprising frequency.

Though the recent #metoo movement has revealed the prevalence with which people are violated sexually, my heart remains heavy for wives who are victims of marital sexual abuse. Their stories remain untold, and I am concerned that many pastors and counselors are unaware of its occurrence. I hear many stories (too many stories) of women being abused, violated or even raped by their husbands. It is a frightening reality for these women—one that they usually endure in isolation. The Lord is not silent on such horrors, nor should we be. My goal, therefore, is to identify what sexual abuse in marriage looks like so it can be recognized more readily and these women can get the help they need.

Sexual abuse in marriage occurs when husbands make demands on their wives that are not based on love .¹ These demands for sex are not sanctioned by 1 Corinthians 7:3-5,² though the passage is often used as a goad to require a wife’s compliance. To be clear, the men who do this are troubled themselves. They usually have deep-seated problems including a weak or non-existent relationship with God and an inflated sense of entitlement. They believe that other people (including their wives) exist for them—for their comfort and to meet their needs, including sexual ones. When their wives fail to respond as desired, it often results in a pattern of coercive and punishing behaviors designed to force their compliance.³

Sexual desire perverted by entitlement damages a couple’s sexual relationship in many ways. Here are a few examples of what it looks like:

  • Unrelenting pressure. Most couples need to work out differences in sexual desire or appetite, but what I am talking about here is a husband pleading for or demanding more sex in such a way that the pressure never lets up. Women tell me stories of being lectured (some for hours), being degraded, told there will be no affection unless it culminates in sex, or made to feel responsible for their husband’s use of pornography. Sex-on-demand has become an expectation or a “right” within the marriage.

I have found this pattern to be the most destructive in relationships where the husband is also disengaged from other foundational areas in the marriage such as parenting, household management, and connecting relationally.

  • Callous disregard. There are many occasions where sex is neither desired nor conceivable: an illness, a new baby, a particularly difficult day, a house full of guests, or after an abusive rant. But instead of yielding and caring for the whole being of his wife, a common characteristic of an entitled husband is to disregard his wife’s circumstances and expect or demand that sex proceed as usual.
  • Unwanted acts. When a wife has made it clear that she is uncomfortable with a particular sex act or implement, an entitled husband insists, disregarding her comfort. Other examples include: when a wife says something hurts and the husband does not stop, undesired sexting, or being filmed while engaging in sexual activity without consent. In some marriages, the abuse is so severe that a wife is too frightened to even give voice to her preferences.
  • Coercion. Manipulation in the form of threats may also be used, forcing the victim to submit to unwanted sexual acts out of fear or guilt. The husband may imply or state that he will get violent, leave, find “another” woman, expose her in some way, or punish her or her children. The threats do not have to be spoken; oftentimes wives experience punishments without explanation.

Coercive sex abuse can be very confusing because after being “persuaded” (a.k.a. bullied), consent was technically granted. The victimized wife is left wondering, “Was I sexually assaulted or did I agree to it?” Whatever form of coercion is used, be it physical, financial, or emotional, any sexual act which is not based on mutual consent constitutes sexual violation. It leaves a wife feeling confused, dirty, betrayed, and assaulted.

  • Violation. The worst sexual violation is rape, but there are many types of violation. Among them are sexual acts performed while someone is sleeping or intoxicated, unwanted sexual touch, being forced to engage in an unwanted act to avoid another abuse, or a husband ignoring tears or other expressions of discomfort. Sadly, I have heard many stories of Christian women who were raped on their honeymoon. They were conditioned early on in their marriage to be compliant or be terrorized.

These patterns are disturbing and have no place in a godly marriage.

Marriage does not equal consent. It does not obligate spouses to participate in any sexual act at any time. But devastatingly, many Christian women have come to believe that sex-on-demand is their “wifely duty.” Thus, they have a hard time separating being violated from what they have come to believe is their responsibility. Confusion, shame, and guilt are compounded.

Those suffering from these distorted, abusive demands should not be left questioning what God says about such evils. The Apostle Paul speaks clearly here. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col. 3:5-6). Paul is calling on us to eradicate all sexual sin that stands against our identity in Christ—any sexual impurity. He is not setting a low bar here and saying “just don’t cheat on your spouses.” He is saying: Wipe out all sexual covetousness—all your greedy taking—for all sexual impurities deserve the wrath of God.

We, too, must identify these behaviors for what they are—evil. Like Paul, we need to call for the cessation of such terrors and clearly give voice to God’s hatred of such abuses. We need to speak up on behalf of victims—and speak with the full weight of Scripture behind us.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust.” (1 Thess. 4:3-5)


¹ Women can sexually abuse their husbands, but it happens at a substantially lower rate.

² This passage is often incorrectly applied. It does not give husbands permission to demand sex from their wives and does not sanction pressuring women into thinking that it is their “wifely duty” to give in to such demands. These distortions fail to account for the fact that sex is a gift from God designed for his purposes, not our own. Space does not permit a full discussion of the passage, but for a better way to look at 1 Cor. 7:4-5 see Tim Challies’ blog “Two Different Ways to Think about Sex in Marriage

³ I have written two mini-books on this subject. See them here.

From the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation.

Reblog: 5 Minutes in Church History Podcasts (Martin Luther)

Here’s a link to Ligonier Ministries who did 31 episodes about Martin Luther for the 500th Anniversary of the posting of the 95 These on the Wittenberg Door. These podcasts are old (2017) but I wanted the link here on my blog. Martin Luther is a favorite hero of the faith for me.

5 Minutes in Church History can be found on Facebook, Twitter and through different audio podcast forms.

Enjoy!

You Tube: Hold On

Hold On by Wilson Phillips

I know this pain
Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free from the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day yeah
If you hold on

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on
Hold on baby
Won’t you tell me now
Hold on for one more day ‘Cause
It’s gonna go your way

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can’t you change it this time

Make up your mind
Hold on
Hold on
Baby hold on

Reblog: The Thing About Sex

by Tim Challies

One of the significant difficulties many husbands and wives encounter is the place of sexual desire and pleasure in marriage. I want to speak to this today by answering a representative question, one of many I’ve received. “You speak of sex like it is a pure and holy thing. Yet when my husband wants to have sex with me, I feel like he is just responding to bodily urges and wants to use me as a way to relieve those urges. It’s all about the release. What is holy about this?”

False Messages

I believe that the heart of the issue here is that very few Christians have developed a Bible-based theology of sex. Fewer still live out that theology of sex. Instead, much of what we believe has been imported from outside the Bible and carries messages antithetical to God’s desire for the sexual relationship.

From an evolutionary perspective sex is little more than a means of spreading genes, of ensuring survival from one generation to the next. From a pornographic perspective, the meaning of sex is physical gratification so that a person’s worth extends no farther than her (or his) ability to satisfy another person’s cravings. From a romantic comedy perspective, sex is a component of an exploratory phase of a relationship and one that precedes expressions of love and loyalty. These are ubiquitous, powerful messages that compete with truth.

A Christian perspective on sex could hardly stand in sharper contrast. There we see that sex belongs to marriage and that marriage has been created by God for a very specific purpose. Before it is anything else, marriage is a picture, a metaphor, of the relationship of Christ and his church.  Within that picture, that representation of Christ and his church, we have sex. Sex is a necessary component of marriage so that a couple desiring to live in obedience to the Bible will regularly have sex together (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). And here is where we come to your concern.

While it is always difficult to speak in generalities, it is probably fair to say that more often than not, it is the husband’s physical desire that motivates the sexual relationship. And I think the heart of what you are noting is an apparent contrast between a husband’s physical desires and this picture of Christ and the church. It is a contrast between what we believe sex is meant to be and what sex actually is. Aren’t these things at odds with one another?

Physical, Emotional, Spiritual

Here is what I want you to consider: What if the physical, “the release,” as you call it, isn’t the thing? What if it’s not the point of sex? What if the deepest purpose and meaning of sex is not physical but emotional and spiritual? And what if the physical desire is a God-given gift to compel us to take advantage of all the other benefits that sex brings?

This is where a Christian understanding of sex is so much better and greater than the alternatives. It heightens the purpose and importance of sex by celebrating all that sex is and all that it is meant to be, for it is here that the physical, the emotional and the spiritual come together in the most powerful way. Literally: the most powerful way. There is nothing in the human experience that brings these three together in such dramatic fashion and this is exactly why sex is reserved for the marriage bed. God wants marriage to be a unique kind of relationship and nothing marks marriage’s uniqueness more than sex.

Yet so few people think of sex in such terms. Even sex that is holy before God–sex between a husband and wife–can be marked by sin and ignorance. Few husbands have the words to express to their wives that the physical pleasure and relief that may come through sex are bound up in the much better and greater unity they find in making love to their wives. And yet somewhere they know it, they know that the greatest joy in sex is not orgasmic but in the joy of being body-to-body, soul-to-soul, and completely exposed before another person. The intimacy comes by way of vulnerability. There is no other place where a person is so exposed, so bare, so vulnerable. Sex is a declaration: This is who I am. Sex is a question: Do you accept me as I am? Sex is an answer: I accept you as you are. There is no other place where a person can be so loved and accepted.

This is the point of sex! This is its purpose. And the physical desire is a trigger, a reminder, that motivates us to pursue this kind of intimacy that is so integral to marriage. Not only that, but the physical desire allows this all to be a source of great fun and pleasure. It truly is one of God’s gifts to us.

The Call

I believe there is a call here for husbands to think about sex from a biblical perspective and to learn to express this to their wives. A husband should be able to explain to himself first, and then his wife, that the joy of sex goes far beyond the physical. It is not less than physical, but it is certainly so much more. And the husband needs to live as if this is true. Satan’s greatest victory in the area of sex is making it all about chasing that physical relief while ignoring the much deeper unity. A man can make hate to his wife instead of making love. He can have sex with his wife in such a way that he pursues nothing more than relief for his urges and when he does this he cheapens sex rather than elevates it. Husband, learn to understand and express to your wife what it really means to make love to her.

And there is a call here for wives not to resent the physical component of sex, but to see it as a God-given gift that motivates a husband and wife to pursue sex’s greatest gifts. She needs to understand that a man who is following the leading of his body toward that physical and emotional and spiritual unity, is a man who is looking to his wife for that thing that she and she alone can provide–this one expression of their deepest unity.

The fact is that as Christians we are good at teaching what sex is not, but not nearly as skilled at teaching what sex actually is and what it is meant to be and to display. The reality is far better, far more satisfying, than so many of us believe.

Find the original article here.

You Tube: Hebrews by The Bible Project

My ladies small group Bible study is nearing the end of our study in Hebrews. This video is a great over view of the book. I was overwhelmed by emotion today as I read Hebrews 11 (the faith chapter) for my first day of study. Reading the hardships and persecutions of those who have gone before me. What a beautiful book the Bible is and the threads of hope, peace, rest, grace, mercy, and love that flow through out because of how much God the Father loves us. Thank you God for your words of life and hope.