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.


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.


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.

Be Filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit:”

My personal conviction is to abstain from use of any and all alcohol. I don’t–and won’t–engage in debate about this. I know there is a movement that I find regrettable, among younger Christians, to use alcohol socially and find no problem in doing so. We’ve never felt the need, and we’ve lived quite happily without it.

The clear teaching in this verse is that if you want to be filled with something, let it be the Holy Spirit of God rather than something as harmful as alcohol. When we fill ourselves with anything that prohibits the Spirit,  we are in danger.

It is what we are filled with that characterizes us to others. If a person is filled with anger and bitterness, that’s what comes spilling out. I he is filled with fear, then that fear motivates his thought and behaviors. If he is filled with selfishness and greed,  those things are obvious to everyone around him.

If we are filled with the Spirit, then the same thing is true. It is clear to all who have dealings with us that we are controlled and lead not by our own selfish desires, but by the Holy Spirit of God.

Drunkenness, being filled with wine, leaves no room for the Spirit.

Be in the Word!

Ephesians 5:17. “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

I love the contrast here.  Don’t be foolish. Foolishness consists in not knowing what the will of the Lord is. Wisdom consists in knowing His will.

How simple is that?  Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

A wise person is one who spends time in the Word, who studies and seeks to understand what God is saying. When we do that, we will find  His will.  In seeking and doing His will, we grow in wisdom.

We make knowing God’s will so complicated, when in fact it is clear. We just need to be in the Word.

Redeem the Time

Redeem the Time

Ephesians 5:16. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

My most-used commentaries all render the first part of this verse as “don’t waste time.”  We are to make good and appropriate use of our time, not let it sift away like sand through our fingers.

Does that mean we can never rest?  Of course not.  God Himself rested on the seventh day; Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee to get away from the crowds; He also took a nap in the boat!  Times of rest and relaxation are vital to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

The key here is the second statement:  The days are evil.  That is, moral turpitude abounds, and we need to seize every opportunity to share the gospel, thereby using the time for a good purpose. Again, we are to walk wisely, carefully, and profitably.

Walk Carefully

Ephesians 5:15. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”

Having just warned us of the dangers of trying to have “fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (v. 11) Paul now tells us to be careful of how we walk.  We are not to live foolishly, wasting our lives, but we are to live in wisdom. We are to walk circumspectly.

My dad used an illustration I’ve never forgotten when he taught this verse.  He said that to walk circumspectly is similar to walking the way a cat would walk along the top of a picket fence.  The cat watches carefully where he puts each paw. He takes his time, measuring each step and checking to see that he isn’t in danger of a misstep that would cause him to fall.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see that cat moving carefully along the fence, tail twitching and body carefully balanced.  He’s careful, and he takes no unnecessary chances. Each step is carefully measured, carefully placed, until he makes it safely to a place where he can safely jump down.

How often do we just rush into something, even into something we believe is biblically sound and good, only to find that we have fallen off the picket fence because  there was nothing to support our steps. We need to be careful of anything that does not measure up in the light of scripture.

Walk circumspectly.

Friday Counseling Issues: The Personality Disorders

Today:  Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.



First, there is a difference between Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  Here is a quick summary of the differences:

Difference #1: Insight

Folks with OCD usually know that their thoughts are not exactly reasonable (“Did I turn off the stove?  I’d better check,” or “If I wear unmatched socks, something bad will happen to my brother.”)

By contrast, individuals with OCPD believe their sky-high standards and work ethic are not only reasonable, but the only way to get things done.

Difference #2: Distress

In OCD, the obsessions and compulsions are stressful and unpleasant. For instance, feeling convinced you just drove over someone and circling back dozens of times to check for a body turns one’s stomach into knots. By contrast, for those with OCPD, the rigid schedules and rules of the condition are often comforting and feel right.

Difference #3: Guilt

In OCD, individuals can, but not always, feel guilty about asking others to conform to their rituals (for example, “I know it’s a hassle to put on shoe covers whenever you come inside, but I really, really need you to do that.  I’m so sorry.”)  On the flip side, those with OCPD think others should conform to their methods and firmly believe they’d be better off for it.

Difference #4: Anxiety

With OCD, compulsions – the actions someone with OCD can’t resist doing, like checking, counting, or washing – are performed to reduce anxiety.  For instance, an individual with OCD might review her schedule for the day over and over again because she’s  terrified she’s forgotten to include all her appointments.

By contrast, someone with OCPD might make and review a detailed schedule in order to be comprehensive and efficient.  Anxiety isn’t part of the picture.

Difference #5: Time

By definition, OCD takes more than an hour a day.  That’s right – part of an OCD diagnosis can be the fact that the obsessions, plus the compulsions to neutralize the obsessions, suck up a lot of time. OCPD, on the other hand, is more tightly interwoven to one’s personality. Rather than being an activity unto itself, the perfectionism and control of OCPD is more of a trait, not a time suck.

Quick Tip: Think of the one-letter difference between the two acronyms: OCPD has a “p” in it, which you can pretend stands for “perfectionism,” the defining feature of the disorder.

Any way you slice it, these disorders are tough to live with.  The good news?  They’re also treatable, particularly OCD.  With work and practice, the only difference you’ll think about is what a difference good treatment makes.

(taken from: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/mental-health/ocd-vs-ocpd-5-differences)

As with all the personality disorders, the person who has one thinks it is everyone else who is odd, wrong, strange, unreasonable, and needs help.  People who have OCD, as opposed to OCPD, are willing and often eager to seek help. On the contrary, OCPD people don’t think they need any help.  If only everyone else were as organized, scheduled, meticulous, PERFECT as they are, the world would be a better place.

Both of these disorders used to be classed under anxiety disorders. The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, however, has given OCD a place of its own, while OCPD is still under Personality Disorders.

Confused?  Think of it this way. OCPD people many not have the counting rituals, the constant handwashing, checking and rechecking of OCD, but they are absolutely convinced that their way is the ONLY right way, and they don’t mind imposing their standards on everyone else.

If you have an OCPD boss, that person will demand absolute obedience to every rule in the book, and he knows them all by heart.  He probably wrote them.  He simply doesn’t understand a cluttered desk, and will insist that his employees have prisitine  desktops. He doesn’t understand at all that some of us just don’t see the clutter, and we actually work more efficiently and productively if things are not antiseptically clean.

I knew someone who always did her wash on Monday, no matter what. No exceptions. She hung her laundry outside, even in the coldest weather, because the sun and fresh air helped kill bacteria that her boiling hot water and bleach may have overlooked.  If it rained or snowed on wash day, the clothes were hung on lines in the basement, but she worried incessantly that the clothes just weren’t as clean as if she’d been able to hang them out.

It messed up her whole week.  She could hardly wait until the following Monday.

That’s OCPD. To her, it was just normal, and she simply didn’t understand why Monday washday was not sacred to me. It bothered her. A lot.

She also ironed and mended on Tuesday, baked on Wednesday, shopped on Thursday, cleaned on Friday, and did yard work or major deep cleaning on Saturday.  Like clockwork.

OCPD people can find it difficult to make time for an unscheduled lunch date, or just taking an hour off to read or nap. Being off-schedule is intolerable.  Rules of etiquette are strictly observed, and there isn’t much spontaneous humor.

The other day, at work, I’d been doing some research during a free hour.  My desk was cluttered with several books, a legal pad full of notes, and the usual collection of pens, tissue box, and so on. It was a mess.  Didn’t bother me a bit;  it was work in progress.

When my client, a very nice lady who was seeing me for some marital help, came into my office, she stopped cold and stared at my desk. “Would you like me to help you clean that up before we start?”  she asked.

I could see that the mess would distract her completely, so I quickly gathered up, straightend up, and put things in my desk drawers. It was a pain for me, because I would have to get it out all over again. For her, it was intolerable and she wouldn’t have been able to focus on anything but my messy desk.

Treatment is helpful only when the person realizes she needs it. People with OCD respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment for anxiety.  People with OCPD  have to be persuaded that they need any help at all.

Today’s post concludes our study of the personality disorders.  I hope it’s been interesting for you, and even better, perhaps it’s been helpful.