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girl looking in mirror

I am “curved in” on myself.” My curved-inward self lives “as if God did not matter and as if I mattered most” (LSB, p. 292). “The tug of our flesh is always and ever toward self-justification,” writes Rev. John T. Pless. “Self-centeredness is not just socially inappropriate; it is a matter of idolatry. It is the way of the flesh to fear, love and trust in the self above all things.”

Will things improve if I just forgive myself? No! This is “not only a cruel impossibility” writes Pless, “but blasphemy. Only God can forgive sin, and the self is not God! It is one thing to say that one must learn how to live by the promise that sin is forgiven. That’s faith. It is quite another thing to say, ‘You must forgive yourself.’ That’s idolatry because it makes the self the savior.”

In a world that celebrates self as lord and savior, where is my hope? In a world that does not suppress self, nor hold self in suspicion, nor call self to repentance, where is my freedom?

It is in Jesus Christ! He carried my sin to death and reconciled me to His Father. I justify nothing, but the Lord of my life justifies the most unjustifiable! What comfort there is in knowing that this curved-inward and selfishly-bent woman will find strength, good conscience, and hope not in myself, but in the promise of God.

Jesus is Lord… and I am not.

With appreciation to Rev. Prof. John T. Pless
and his article “I’ve Got to Be Me… or Not”
(The Lutheran Witness, October 2015)
Photo credit: canstoc

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family praying at tableAnne Fishel is a family therapist. She writes, “I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me.”

Twenty years of research in North America, Europe and Australia, observes Fishel, support the practice of family mealtime. “It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit.”

I am a staunch advocate of family mealtime. The dinner table nurtured trust between my parents, grandparents, and me. My mother and grandmother fed my body, but it was their invitation to engage in discussions about life that stimulated my mind and nourished my soul.

“Dinnertime conversation,” writes Fishel, “boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to.” There is also, Fishel notes, “a consistent association between family dinner frequency and teen academic performance.” Older children reap “intellectual benefits from family dinners . . . regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

The family table, notes Fishel, tends to provide healthier food, but also a healthier atmosphere. However, she cautions, “all bets are off if the TV is on during dinner.”

Regular family dinners are linked, Fishel says, “with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity.” A study of more than 5,000 Minnesota teens concluded that “regular family dinners were associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.”

There is more. Fishel has reason to believe that kids who have been “victims of cyberbullying” bounce back more readily if they have the benefit of family meals. I have no doubt that being in communication with my mom and dad at our family’s dinner table helped steer me away from some high-risk teen behavior.

A New Zealand study, writes Fishel, reveals that “a higher frequency of family meals was strongly associated with positive moods in adolescents.” Evidence also indicates “that teens who dine regularly with their families also have a more positive view of the future, compared to their peers who don’t eat with parents.”

Children don’t grow up working beside their parents today. They don’t farm, construct a house, bake, or quilt together. So, as Fishel observes, the family dinner table remains the most reliable way for parents and children to connect.

“Kids who eat dinner with their parents,” says Fishel, “experience less stress and have a better relationship with them. This daily mealtime connection is like a seat belt for traveling the potholed road of childhood and adolescence and all its possible risky behaviors.”

Just gathering at a common dinner table isn’t enough. It’s what happens at that table. Silence between parents or using the time to scold children won’t, as Fishel notes, “confer positive benefits. Sharing a roast chicken won’t magically transform parent-child relationships.”

My own experience at the dinner table with my parents helped me learn when to speak and when to listen. I was encouraged to ask questions, share ideas, and practice kindness. This nourishing of body, mind, and soul was an experience I wanted to repeat with my children and grandchildren. What a privilege to hear what children are thinking, learn what is going on in their life, engage them in dialogue, mentor, and encourage.

It is small moments like these, concludes Fishel, that “can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.”

Quotes from Anne Fishel are excerpted from her article
“Science says: eat with your kids” – Mercatornet.com 1-14-15
Anne Fishel is the author of Home For Dinner and
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
(photo image: Pinterest.com)

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Making Gay OkayIn his sane and sensible book, Making Gay Okay, author Robert R. Reilly reveals why and how Americans are being forced to consider homosexual acts as morally acceptable.  He explains the “power of rationalization,” the means by which one “mentally transforms wrong into right,” and the dynamics of tolerating sexual misbehavior.

LGBT activists here in the U.S. push hard for cultural acceptance of sodomy in schools, courts, churches, and the military.  We are labeled “intolerant” if we speak God’s Word that calls the act of homosexuality a sin.  We are labeled “homophobic” or even “hostile” if we voice concern for children, family, and the survival of a thriving society.

U.S. Embassies across the world—in Pakistan, Kenya, Laos, and Prague—have been instructed by the Obama Administration to legitimize sodomy and promote same-sex marriage.  U.S. foreign policy seeks to change the laws of other countries, but there is resistance from nations where homosexual acts are illegal.

Reilly explains, “When the acting ambassador in El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte, wrote an op-ed in a major Salvadoran newspaper, La Prensa Grafica, implying that the disapproval of homosexual behavior is animated by ‘brutal hostility’ and ‘aggression’ by ‘those who promote hatred,’ a group of pro-family associations fought back.  On July 6, 2011, they wrote:

Ms. Aponte, in clear violation of the rules of diplomacy and international rights laws, you intend to impose to [sic] Salvadorans, disregarding our profound Christian values rooted in natural law, a new vision of foreign and bizarre values, completely alien to our moral fiber, intending to disguise this as “human rights” . . . . The only thing we agree with from your article, is to repudiate violence against homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc.; against these, just the same as against skinny, fat, tall or short . . . . This of course does not mean accepting the legal union between same sex individuals or to add new types of families like bisexual, tri-sexual, multi-sexual and the full range of sexual preferences.  Not accepting the legitimacy of ‘sexual diversity’ does not mean we are violating any human right.  There can be no talk of progress if this is how ‘modern’ is defined.  We prefer to feel proudly ‘old fashioned,’ keep our moral values, preserve our families and possess the clarity of what defines good and evil.”

As for me?  I stand with the pro-family groups of El Salvador.  I pray that I will fear, love, and trust God so that I might love my neighbor without accepting evil as good.  Does this mean that I will be called to discriminate?  Isn’t discrimination bad?  No.  As Reilly brilliantly writes, “The ability to discriminate is, of course, essential to the ability to choose correctly.”

It is not too late to choose correctly.  Bizarre values are not “human rights.”  Inspired by my neighbors in El Salvador, I will persevere for marriage and family.

Making Gay Okay by Robert R.  Reilly,
p. 203, 214

 

 

 

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dark_chocolate_2048px_02The following blog was written by Karee Santos.   Perhaps it is tongue-in-cheek.  I think it’s inspiration.  Hobby Lobby won their Supreme Court case.  The privately-owned, Christian company is not forced to betray their conscience by providing employee “health care” that includes four contraceptives that are potential abortifacients. (Note: Irrational feminists and abortion advocates seem to overlook the fact that HL’s health care plan does include coverage of 16 contraceptives.  What does this tell you?)  Karee’s blog is worthy of your consideration ~

The Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby allowing corporations not to pay for abortifacient contraceptives on conscience grounds infuriated many. Some activists responded by rearranging the goods on Hobby Lobby shelves to spell out slogans such as “Pro-Choice” and “All Women Deserve Birth Control” in order to demonstrate their mature femininity fitness as sexual partners political savvy anger.  The battle cry seemed to be “we want our non-procreative sex and we want it for free!”

“There is this new attitude that ‘if my pleasure is something I deem good, then you should pay into it and enable me as well,'” commented one of my friends on Facebook. With utterly inescapable logic, she concluded that, based on this reasoning, the government should subsidize her daily ration of dark chocolate as well. The argument is as follows:

1. Many people want dark chocolate.
2. Eating dark chocolate every day has proven health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
3. Decreased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease leads to lower medical costs to be borne by individuals and the healthcare system.
4. The government should therefore provide dark chocolate for free.

The social, medical, and economic benefits of such a scheme are clear. Politicians would be wise to start a political party based on these principles, or at least incorporate these ideas into the plank of an already-existing party platform. Not only would chocolate-for-free garner even more popular support than contraception-for-free, it would also encounter less opposition. Consider this:

1. Chocolate appeals to men, women, and children of all ages, whereas contraception would only arguably be beneficial for men and women of child-bearing age.
2. Chocolate does not contain synthetic hormones that may raise the risk of cancer and harm the environment by polluting our streams.
3. Chocolate does not cause a small but real risk of increased blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
4. No one (as far as I know) has a religious objection to eating chocolate or providing free chocolate to others.

So I say, forget free sex. We want free chocolate. Are you with me?
Karee Santos is a happily married mother of six. She blogs in English at Can We Cana? and in Spanish at Comencemos en Caná. This article was originally published at Can We Cana?

The Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby allowing corporations not to pay for abortifacient contraceptives on conscience grounds infuriated many. Some activists responded by rearranging the goods on Hobby Lobby shelves to spell out slogans such as “Pro-Choice” and “All Women Deserve Birth Control” in order to demonstrate their mature femininity  fitness as sexual partners  political savvy  anger. (For more equally emotional responses, click here.) The battle cry seemed to be “We want our non-procreative sex and we want it for free!”

“There is this new attitude that ‘if my pleasure is something I deem good, then you should pay into it and enable me as well,'” commented one of my friends on Facebook. With utterly inescapable logic, she concluded that, based on this reasoning, the government should subsidize her daily ration of dark chocolate as well. The argument is as follows:

  1. Many people want dark chocolate.
  2. Eating dark chocolate every day has proven health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
  3. Decreased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease leads to lower medical costs to be borne by individuals and the healthcare system.
  4. The government should therefore provide dark chocolate for free.

– See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/why_we_all_deserve_free_yummy_dark_chocolate#sthash.GHEbMBzN.dpuf

The Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby allowing corporations not to pay for abortifacient contraceptives on conscience grounds infuriated many. Some activists responded by rearranging the goods on Hobby Lobby shelves to spell out slogans such as “Pro-Choice” and “All Women Deserve Birth Control” in order to demonstrate their mature femininity  fitness as sexual partners  political savvy  anger. (For more equally emotional responses, click here.) The battle cry seemed to be “We want our non-procreative sex and we want it for free!”

“There is this new attitude that ‘if my pleasure is something I deem good, then you should pay into it and enable me as well,'” commented one of my friends on Facebook. With utterly inescapable logic, she concluded that, based on this reasoning, the government should subsidize her daily ration of dark chocolate as well. The argument is as follows:

  1. Many people want dark chocolate.
  2. Eating dark chocolate every day has proven health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
  3. Decreased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease leads to lower medical costs to be borne by individuals and the healthcare system.
  4. The government should therefore provide dark chocolate for free.

– See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/why_we_all_deserve_free_yummy_dark_chocolate#sthash.GHEbMBzN.dpuf

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The following post was written by Rebecca Mayes
and posted on He Remembers the Barren~

One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the “success” of your marital relations (more modernly called your “sex life”) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re “doing it” right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our gift of sexuality and teach the children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this gift. But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a  good reason, or are we just prudes?

Linda's bookLinda Bartlett, former national president of Lutherans for Life, has just published The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, which exposes the myths that our generation, as well as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, have been taught to believe about what children should know to be prepared for marriage, the marital act, and procreation.

Bartlett begins by giving the necessary history of how the Church,  during the mid-20th century, put too much trust in “experts” instead of the inspired Word of God and willingly traded in our biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, procreation, parenting, and purity for a more “scientific” approach to teaching children about the intimacies of marriage. Falsified, inaccurate, and even perverted studies on the “sexuality” of the human male and female conducted by Alfred Kinsey were presented to universities, medical associations, and church bodies as facts which could not be ignored by enlightened academics. Christianized versions of the sexual revolution’s message were then (and still are) passed down to schools and parents to share with children.

And just what are some of these myths?

  • Children are sexual from birth.
  • Children should be taught about sex, and with the proper terminologies, beginning in early elementary school.
  • If children are not taught about sex early on, their naiveté could make them prey to sexual predators.
  • Parents aren’t trained to properly teach their children about sex. The schools are the best environments for this to take place.
  • Boys and girls should be taught about puberty and sexuality while in the same classroom, since there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Sex education will help prevent unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, and abortions.

The Church was naive in its promotion of sex education in the parochial schools, Bartlett points out, but not malicious. We were deceived into believing that we are “sexual from birth,” and this brainwashing had the complete opposite effect on our Church members as what was intended. It cleared the way for the acceptance of fornication, homosexuality, birth control, and even abortion as a normal part of life for those who are simply expressing their sexuality – being who they thought they were created to be.

But that’s not how we were created, Bartlett reminds us. The solution to the mess we are in now is our Baptism. This is where we received our true identities as children of the Heavenly Father, not sexual beings created to express our sexuality, but holy beings, created to live holy (not sexual) lives. “It is important,” Bartlett says, “for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that,” (pg. 108).

Because Bartlett presents such shocking evidence of our deception, she presents her case in the form of a patient dialogue between herself and her readers, including over 100 questions and then answering almost every objection one could think of to the notion that there is anything wrong with the way the Church has been educating her children. Her love and concern for her Church family flow through each section as she gently reminds us all that, “Even well-intentioned sex education in the Church leans the wrong way if built on the wrong foundation,” (pg. 129).

If you have children, if you teach children, if you are related to children, or if you once were a child, this book is for you.

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If you’ve never watched Rev. Jonathon Fisk on YouTube at Worldview Everlasting, you’re going to be in for a surprise.  This Lutheran pastor talks to the “now” generation but, the question is: Can the now generation keep up? In this episode, Rev. Fisk challenges a new culture of women but with unchanging Truth that endures the ages.  Young women… let me know what you think.  Better yet, become a subscriber of Worldview Everlasting 🙂

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Eric Metaxas from Breakpoint (10/28) brings something to Ezerwoman’s attention.  Having been concerned about the separation of procreation from sex here in the American culture, I find the following worthy of our attention.  Eric Metaxas writes:

Long-time BreakPoint listeners know about Japan’s catastrophically-low birthrates: by 2060, Japan’s population is projected to fall by a third, the same percentage killed by the Black Death in 14th-century Europe.

Japan’s demographic decline has spawned some creepy adaptations, such as lifelike talking dolls for elderly Japanese without grandchildren, or the borrowing of other people’s grandchildren for a day.

Attempts to encourage child-bearing through economic incentives have failed, as they have in other countries with low birth-rates. Younger Japanese aren’t interested in reproducing themselves.

And now, according to a recent article in the UK’s Guardian, they’re increasingly uninterested in sex, as well.

A 2011 survey found that 61 percent of unmarried men and 49 percent of unmarried women between 18 and 34 were not involved in any kind of relationship. Another survey found that a third of those under thirty had never dated.

Daily_Commentary_10_28_13MMore ominously, a study by the Japan Family Planning Association revealed that 45 percent of all Japanese women between the ages of 16 and 24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact.” More than a quarter of their male counterparts felt the same way.

As the Guardian puts it, “Japan’s under-40s won’t go forth and multiply out of duty, as postwar generations did.” Why? Part of the reason has to do with Japanese attitudes to women in the workforce. As one 32-year-old woman told the paper, “a woman’s chances of promotion in Japan stop dead as soon as she marries.” The assumption is that she’ll become pregnant and have to resign.

While that helps to explain why her generation isn’t having children or even getting married, it doesn’t explain the lack of interest in sex. And it certainly doesn’t explain why an increasing number of Japanese men aren’t interested in it either.

One 31-year-old man spoke for many of his peers when he said, “I find some of my female friends attractive but I’ve learned to live without sex. Emotional entanglements are too complicated . . . I can’t be bothered.”

“Can’t be bothered.” Or mendokusai in Japanese. (Didn’t think I could speak Japanese, did you? Well, I can’t.)

Most of the other possible factors the Guardian cites, including “the lack of a religious authority that ordains marriage and family,” are only partial explanations. Japan’s “precarious earthquake-prone ecology that engenders feelings of futility, and the high cost of living and raising children” don’t explain the increasing lack of interest in sex. But here’s something that does: it’s the lack of interest in having children. The assumption of the sexual revolution was that, having severed the link between sex and procreation, the result would be “better sex.”

Newsletter_Gen_180x180_BBut the Japanese experience suggests that the opposite may be closer to the truth. Having stripped sex of one of its God-ordained purpose, we turned it into just another pleasurable human activity, albeit one that often comes with complicated emotional entanglements.

Since the “urban pastimes” available to younger Japanese provide pleasure without the entanglements, sex can seem like a bad investment of time and energy. Mendokusai.

The Guardian calls Japan’s separation of love and sex “pragmatic.” But the evidence strongly suggests that there is nothing “pragmatic”—as in “dealing with things sensibly and realistically”—about that separation. We human beings simply aren’t wired that way.

In some important respects, the difference between Japan and us is one of degree, not kind. It remains to be seen if a generation of young Americans will one day replace “whatever” with “mendokusai.”

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