In Every Thing

Ephesians 5:24. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Everyone enjoys a beautiful wedding.  I do.  I always tear up when the radiant bride  begins her journey to her waiting groom, who has eyes for no one but her.

But I want to tell you that the marriage is far more important than the wedding. Far too many couples have spent thousands on the wedding, and a couple of  years later, more thousands on the divorce. One reason that happens is that neither partner in the marriage is submissive to God; as a result, they are not submissive to one another. The husband is not the head, and the wife does not support his leadership.

I’m going to go on a tiny rant here.  This picture that God created of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and His bride, the church, needs to be given more serious attention.

Are you aware of the the incredible division among God’s people today?  We fight over every single thing.  Versions of scripture. Music. Dress. Rules.  What can a Christian do and what he can’t do.  Discipline.  Drinking.  All the big long list of do’s and don’ts that so many of us lived by is being questioned and mocked.  And what is being overlooked in all this “I have a right to my own opinion” theology is God’s most important attribute:  His holiness.  When was the last time you made a decision based on the fact of the holiness of God?

As the church falls apart under the onslaught of tolerance/political correctness/don’t be a hater  “theology,”  so do our Christian marriages fall apart. There is no leadership.  Men are actually timid about taking their place as the head because it’s not politically correct for them to do so. We have emasculated men and boys, urging them to find their feminine side.  When is the last time anyone urged you, ladies, to find your masculine side?  Never?  That’s because we’ve been fed the idea that female is better.

No.  Not better.  Different.  And vive la difference!  Women, we need to rediscover our feminine side!  I’d like you to consider that God made us different, and He knew what He was doing. I love the studies that show things we’ve always known, but that science is just now figuring out:  Men’s brains are wired differently than women’s brains.  Quit resisting it.  Go with it.  There is great joy and blessing in being who God intended us to be instead of who Gloria Steinem thinks we should be. Remember her?  She’s the one who said “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Everyone laughed.  Women don’t need men, after all.

Yes, we do.  And men need us, because God made it so.

All right. I’m done for now.  Tomorrow we start the verses that pertain to the men. There are a lot more of them than the ones that pertain to women.  They have the harder job.

Headship

Ephesians 5:23. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body.”

I want to remind you again that all the rest of the verses in this chapter are set in the matrix of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The kind of love between husband and wife that is pictured here is supernatural. In ourselves, we find it very hard to live out this passage. With the Holy Spirit, however, we can experience the joy and satisfaction of a relationship that reflects the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church.

There is nothing here that makes a wife of less value than her husband. She simply has a different position.  I like to help my marital counseling clients see that the position of the wife is of privilege and protection.  There is nothing here that portrays subjugation and dominance–and certainly not ownership! A woman is not merchandise, and no godly man wants to treat his wife as if she “belongs” to him and has no rights of her own. That is worldly thinking, not godly thinking.

There is a mutuality of submission here. Yes, God has designated the husband as the head. God is a God of order. He is a practical God Who understands the human psyche far better than any of us do, however many degrees we may have behind our names.  He knows that He created man with more of a tendency to lead, and woman with more of a tendency to support. And yes, I know there are exceptions. In those cases, it is even more important for the wife to deliberately choose to let her husband lead so that she doesn’t reverse what God has ordained, thereby confusing their children and creating tension in the home.

I’m finding it difficult to stay focused here. There is so much that could be said, and should be said. Satan has so confounded this particular teaching of the scripture, mainly because it pictures the relationship of Christ and the church. Satan’s twists and turns of this passage have created so much pain and distress in marriages, for both believers and non-believers. However, I need to finish this verse!

The husband is the head of his wife in the same way that Christ is the Head of the church. That is,  he is to practice servant-leadership, sacrificial leadership. He is called upon to put the needs of his wife uppermost, just as Christ gave Himself up to death for the sake of His church.  Jesus Christ is the Savior of the body, the church; He gave up heaven itself in order to accomplish His task of redeeming the church to Himself. So is the husband to forsake all others and cleave only to his wife, in a sense “saving” her body through his work and provision of her needs.

There is nothing but beauty here if we can rid ourselves of our fleshly tendency toward resenting anything that seems to infringe on what we consider to be our rights. One more thing to consider:  Here in America, way too many of us focus on our rights. The more rights we achieve, the more we demand. Where do we expect those rights to come from?  Why, government, of course.  The trouble is, the more rights government gives us, the more power it has to take those rights away.

Wives

Ephesians 5:22. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”

First, go back and read verses 18-21. Realize the important principle here is the filling of the Spirit, which is gained by obedience to God’s Word. Verse 21 teaches us the importance of submitting ourselves to each other, placing the needs of others above our own. Verse 22 is the beginning of a passage about how the Holy Spirit influences a godly, Christ-centered marriage.  It is not a separate topic from what has gone before. The submission of wives cannot be taught as a stand-alone, although I’ve heard many preachers do so. I used to wonder why it made my hackles rise when an evangelist who shall remain unnamed roared from the pulpit, “You WIVES need to GET IN LINE!”  SUBMIT to your husbands, or you will never enjoy the blessing of God.”

Now, why would that make me  resist?  I believe the Bible is true, and I’ve tried to follow the directive to be in submission to my husband’s headship. Well, one day I figured it out. It’s because that truth was being preached outside the setting of the filling of the Holy Spirit, and it was used as a club to beat us with, ot control us and force us to “get in line,” whatever that means.

That’s not the picture that Paul is creating in this passage. Not even close.

I heard a definition of submission at my oldest son’s wedding that I love. “Submission is to choose–CHOOSE!–to arranges oneself under someone else’s authority.”

Now, that’s a  principle I can live with. I can choose to do that, and be happy and content in doing so.  Why?  Because I’m not being hollered at and forced into doing something that is completely against my nature. I am choosing, because I want to be obedient to God’s Word, to accept the headship of my godly husband, whose love makes it pretty easy for me to enjoy the position of privilege and protection that God has assigned to wives.

It is not a burden to be born in martyrdom and suffering. It is a blessing that allows me to flourish and grow in safety, and to find the peace of fulfilling God’s purpose for wives. But it has to be motivated by the filling of the Spirit; that is, by obedience to His Word and His will.

And notice, also, that we are to submit to our own husbands.  I don’t have to be submissive to your husband!  You don’t have to be submissive to mine. Of course, there are other men in my life who are in positions of spiritual or civic leadership to whom I owe respect. But marital submission is very special and unique, and is for only the husband and his wife to practice and enjoy.

Finally, we are to do it as unto the Lord. Wives, our choosing to arrange ourselves under out husband’s authority is to be done to clarify the picture of Christ as the Bridegroom, and the Church as His bride. We are to submit to our own husbands as we submit to the Lord.

Hang on, there’s lots more. I love this passage, and went through it just yesterday with a couple in my office who are struggling to repair their marriage after an affair. It was such a sheer pleasure to see understanding dawn for both of them as we stepped word by word through this passage. It was healing.  It was educational. It was sweet to see them look at each other with new understanding. Because they both want God’s will, I am sure their marriage will be restored and stronger than it ever has been before.

Do it God’s way, and great things begin to happen.

Submit!

Ephesians 5:21. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Exploring Ephesians: 5:21 Living | Redeemer Church

First, let me point out that this verse comes set in the matrix of being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Without that, we will not submit to one another’s needs.  Why?  Because we don’t want to!  We are born with a nature to put ourselves first. Infants learn very quickly that if they cry at a certain pitch, with a certain fervency, someone will come and care for them. In their first year of life, most babies are the center. We spend the next 17 or so years trying to teach them they are NOT the center. We are selfish at heart. The idea of submission to anyone else is naturally repugnant.  God is teaching us a different way here, and it starts with being filled up and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.

Second, I want to point out that this verse is NOT discussing marriage. It is simply an admonition that we are to consider the needs of others before our own. Its application is universal, not limited to husbands and wives. Jesus has set the example. He  submitted to the will of the Father. He submitted to the need of mankind for a Savior Who would open the way to sonship with the Father. His submission is clearly defined in I Peter 2:21-25. The submission of Jesus was complete.

I will have more to say on submission as we get into the verses about marriage.  Submission is a beautiful thing. The world has tried to make it ugly, but when a marriage is set in the matrix of the filling of the Holy Spirit, there is just no comparison to marriage that is set in putting oneself first.

This entire passage, starting in verse eight, is a series of commands concerning how we are to live out our lives as believers. In the next several verses, Paul illustrates how it all works in  biblical marriage, always keeping in mind that the setting is the filling of the Spirit.

Give Thanks!

Ephesians 5:20. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

Remember when the Peanuts gang had just toast and popcorn for Thanksgiving dinner? Would you and I have been thankful, doing our happy dance for such meager fare on our national feast day?

How thankful have you been during this  excruciatingly long political campaign?  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not thankful for most of it.  Blustering, name-calling accusation and counter-accusation.  It’s been embarrassing.

However, I am most thankful indeed for our freedom in this country to vote for the individual who will sit in the White House for the next four years.  I’m thankful even for our often-confusing delegate system, which few of us understand.  It hasn’t been this important since Reagan and Ford!

Today is Pennsylvania’s primary day.  I will vote before I go to work. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the car that will get me there, and then to my office.  I’m thankful that there won’t be armed guards at my polling place, nor at my workplace.  I’m thankful that almost everyone follows traffic laws, helping to keep me safe on the road.  I’m thankful that I’ll eat something before I leave this morning.  Thankful for the hot water I used at the flick of a tap.  Thankful for the comfortable bed I slept in last night. For this computer I use daily to write out my blog posts. For the freedom to write about my faith.

Most of all, I’m thankful that for nearly 64 years I’ve known Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was only five when I asked Him to forgive my sin and take me to heaven.  I’m thankful that He is faithful, and that His Word is truth.

Be thankful.  It will lift your spirits.

Sing!

Ephesians 5:19. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord:”

I’m sorry to be so late today.  Because of  my hinky back and my spring allergies,  I decided to sleep in today. Haven’t slept that late–10 a.m.!–in years, and I think it helped a bit.

Anyway, I love this verse because I get to talk about music for a little bit:)   I love music. It has been a foundation stone in my life as long as I can remember, and I have annoyed my students (and my own kids) over the years because I can think of a snatch of some song to fit nearly any occasion.

And I’d just like to ask, what’s wrong with that?  Isn’t that what God tells us to do here? We are to encourage each other with songs, hymns, psalms, spiritual songs.  We are to sing to the Lord.  He is a musical Being.  He created music.  I can’t wait to hear Him sing!

My voice is pretty much shot these days.  Too many rounds with bronchitis, too many allergies, probably too much overuse.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy the wonderful music I’ve known all my life, as well as some pretty gorgeous new things that are being produced regularly.

I have a set of three books entitled Then Sings My Soul.  It has to just be my soul, because the voice is not a blessing:)  But how I love to go through those books and play through the songs on my piano.  What a joy it is to realize how many of our great songs came straight from the scripture!  How privileged I am to still have my hearing, so that even though I can’t sing any more, I can listen.

God’s music will lift our hearts, make us joyful even in the hard times, and help us encourage others.  Even as I write, titles of songs are flashing through my mind  that correlate with the words I’m typing.

Let your soul sing.

Friday Counseling Issues: Learning Disabilities

A reader asked me last week if I’d written anything about ADD. I thought I had, but couldn’t find it, so for the next few weeks I’ll be addressing that along with a list of other disabilities both well-known, like dyslexia, and not-so-well-know, like dysgraphia and dyscalcula. Today we’ll focus on ADD/ADHD, which I’ll be referring to as simply ADD from here on in. The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)has omitted ADHD and lumped it all together under ADD. At first I was unhappy about that, but really, it’s all one thing with a couple of different aspects.

Usually self-diagnosable
ADD symptoms include trouble focusing, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
People may experience:
Behavioral: hyperactivity, fidgeting, impulsivity, irritability, risky behavior, or lack of restraint
Cognitive: difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, problem paying attention, racing thoughts, or short attention span
Mood: anxiety, boredom, excitement, or mood swings
Also common: depression, learning disability, or sleep deprivation
Consult a doctor for medical advice
Sources: Mayo Clinic and others.
(  from https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=add%2Fadhd%20symptoms )
I’m going to be speaking for a while from my experience as a teacher, when I got my first real exposure to ADD and other learning disabilities.  Going all the way back to 1952, when I started kindergarten,  there was no recognition of learning disabilities.  I never heard the term until I was in college, and it was passed over lightly. The general attitude was, “Oh, Johnnie/Susie just needs to pay attention. They’re lazy, undisciplined, rebellious.”  And those children struggled through 12 years of school feeling inadequate, stupid, and like the odd man out.
I’m glad we’ve grown beyond that thinking.  At least, most of us have.  Sadly, there is still a segment of educators who do not accept the existence of learning disabilites (LD), and will make to allowances for them. But the number of teachers like that is decreasing, and I’m glad.
If you’ll glance at the symptom list above, you’re probably familiar with most of what you see.  Kids with ADD have a terrible time staying focused on the issue at hand unless–big paradox  here–they are intensely interested in it. If that is the case, they are able to shut out everything else. There could be an earthquake under their feet and they wouldn’t be aware of it.  A parent can call to them several times and they will not hear. They’re not being disobedient every time this happens. Sometimes, probably, but they really do drift away from the world around them and it can be very hard to bring them back. This is especially true if their interest lies in electronics.  There is something mesmerizing about video games, tablets, X-Boxes, and so on.
ADD does not always include hyperactivity. Often, it is simply a drift into another world. It can be triggered by something as simple as a word spoken by the teacher or parent that sends a kid’s brain off on a rabbit trail. When he comes back to earth, he realizes he’s missed something that was probably important, but he’s learned not to ask the teacher to repeat. That usually doesn’t end well for him.
I have pictured this type of ADD behavior as a balloon that gets blown up and then let go, and it bounces all over the room as the air is expelled. There’s no controlling its action. When it’s empty, it just kind of settles somewhere and looks pathetic.
People with ADD can be impulsive. Things blurt out of their mouths practically before they know they were thinking. Or their interest can be grabbed and they’ll drop whatever they’re doing to pursue that. They leave things unfinished. They don’t put things away. My husband was diagnosed with ADD several years ago.  It cleared up a lot of things for me that annoyed the daylights out of me. I still get annoyed, but now I understand.  For instance, if he’s working on the computer, writing down lists, websites, and so on, the list will stay right where he leaves it when he goes to make a snack, which takes him to the kitchen where he gets involved with maybe emptying the dishwasher, which makes him think of something he needs to do in the basement, which will take him outside to the shed to get a tool, which reminds him he needs to check the oil in the car. . . . .and the mess he left on the computer desk remains there until I need the computer and move his stuff aside.
Remember Billy from The Family Circus?
Another feature of ADD than can be easily miss-identified is a tendency to moodiness. Sometimes the assumption is made that the person has Bipolar Disorder, but it’s really just ADD–which is a lot easier to deal with.
Okay, I could spend a lot of time just describing the life and times of people with ADD, but I want to focus for a few minutes on coping skills. First, let’s talk about medication.
Is ADD over-medicated?  Oh yes, without any doubt.  After all, it’s the easy fix for the parents, teachers, and even the kid himself.  There are, however, other tools and resources that are helpful without medicating a child into a different personality. I hated to see zoned-out kids coming to my classroom, because the medication robbed them of their creativity and quirky brain patterns. Yes, it helped them concentrate. Sometimes the results were outstanding, and I am not totally opposed to the careful use of medication.
I have learned, over the years, that one of the best helps for ADD is to have an orderly, non-chaotic home in which there are boundaries and consequences.  The child with ADD needs to learn how to deal with his problem. As an adult, he’s not going to get special allowances made for his LD. He’s going to have to figure out how to do his job without wandering all over the place chasing rainbows.  At some point, this child is going to need to learn some coping skills that will carry his often-gifted intelligence into useful work and family life.  He will not always be a child whose parents and teachers will protect  him with special learning plans and a bottle of pills.
For example, back to my longsuffering husband, who doesn’t mind at all when I use him as an illustration.  He would start his day by jotting down tasks on a piece of paper, fully intending to follow his list.  Of course, the paper was almost immediately lost, and off he would go in his usual erratic patterns.  One day, I bought him several little pocket-sized flip-top tablets,  and suggested he try writing down just one task on each piece of paper, tearing it off when the task was finished. Then he could go on to the next thing. One of his problems was that, in his work, he was often called away from what he was doing to cover some sort of emergency, and then he’d forget what he’d been doing before. The tablet method  kept him on task.  He loved it, and still uses it.
When I was teaching, I used to put my LD kids in a sandwich between me and his parents. He brought his assignment pad to me after class, wrote his homework assignment, which I then signed and dated. At home, his parents checked what the assignment was, then signed off on it when it was finished. This works only if the teacher and the parent are diligent and demand to see the notebook.  The kid will not remember to  offer it.  He will also probably not remember to put it in his backpack to go back to school the next day. The parent will need to supervise that for a while until a habit is formed. Sometimes it helps to post a checklist  that the child will see just as he goes out the door.  I recommended to one frustrated mom that she make a big red STOP sign on the door, with a checklist at the bottom. Visuals are very important for ADD kids.  Words will go in one ear and right out the other. Bright, clear graphics are more likely to grab their attention.
Today, there are many resources to help you help your ADD child. Your local library is a good place to start looking.  The internet is invaluable.  Other parents have dozens of good, helpful ideas that they’ve shared by way of blogs.  Easy to find, too. I just typed “parents find ways to help ADD kids” into my Google search, and came up with pages and pages of articles.
Please don’t give up in despair. These kids are often highly intelligent and gifted in some area.  My husband is a genius with his hands. He can figure out how a thing works, take it apart, fix it, and saves us bundles of money. He has recently remodeled my kitchen, almost completely without professional help. The only thing he didn’t do was cut and install my new granite counter tops. There was some wonderful help from friends, but Terry was the brains behind the building.   In nearly 47 years, I have never, ever called a repairman of any kind. Terry does it all.  And he does it very well.  His ADD slows him down sometimes, but his natural intelligence and giftedness are amazing.
ADD doesn’t have to ruin your child’s life, or yours.