The Marriage Box Myth

There is a marriage myth that few people know about before they marry. (We sure didn’t!) But spouses NEED to recognize it. That’s because the health of their marriages depend upon it. We’re talking about the Marriage Box Myth. It’s a myth we fell into and then climbed out of (and continue to climb “for as long as we both may live”).

To give you an idea of what we’re talking about here, regarding this myth, read the following:

THE MARRIAGE BOX MYTH

Most people get married believing a myth.
They believe that marriage is a beautiful box full of things they have longed for… companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc.

The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box.
You must put something in before you can take anything out.

There is no love in marriage.
Love is in people. And people put love in marriage.
There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full.
If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

(Written by Dr J Allan Peterson)

The Marriage Box Myth is True

Anyone who has been married beyond a month or two, KNOWS how very true this is! If we’re serious when we say our wedding vows to “love” each other for the rest of our lives, we need to be proactive in continuing to grow our love. It’s not a once for all time type of situation.

We didn’t know that when we first married. We should have. But we didn’t. Naively, we thought our love would just naturally grow more wonderful with passing time. However, that was a fantasy! The opposite happened. Our relationship grew to be ugly. That’s because we didn’t do what it takes to put love and romance into our “marriage box.” We just took and took and took and didn’t even notice that it was depleting our relationship of love. So that didn’t work out well for us at all!

We can only take a relationship for granted for so long before it goes into deficit mode of not having anything left in reserve. If we want love, we have to feed it, or it will starve to death. (At the very least it will become anemic.)

We found out the same thing to be true that Darlene Lopez wrote about in her “Marriage Box” article:

“Marriage truly is like an empty box. Many people get married for all the wrong reasons and have an abundant of expectations when they get married. I was one of them. I thought marriage was going to be filled with all sorts of companionship, sex, love, romance, intimacy, prayer, Bible studies, understanding, deep friendship and love. Boy, was I wrong! I found out that marriage truly is empty unless you are infusing into it daily.”

With that said, we want to ask you:

What are you doing to continue to grow your love relationship with each other?

Yes, we know that life gets busy. We fight that all the time (as does everyone)! But we still need to find the time to grow our love for each other. We cannot get so caught up in daily routines that we allow them to become our continual main focus.

“Marriage is a long journey, and any long journey requires occasionally getting off the road to eat, to fill up the car with gas, or simply to rest. Is your marriage slowly getting buried under the daily routine? What can you do differently to break out of the box and renew your love for each other?” (Gary Thomas)

Furthermore, we want to ask you: are you infusing love, or are you just taking what you can get? Here’s a truth to prayerfully consider:

“When we love another person the relationship isn’t just about us anymore. When we love someone we don’t starve them; we give to them. When we love someone, love becomes a verb that allows us to put stuff into the box. We give to the other person in a way that is meaningful to him or her and work with their schedule, not just ours. And we work with their tastes and preferences, not just ours.” (John, from his article, “What is Real True Love?”)

Further down in this blog John writes another truth:

“When we don’t put stuff in the box, we starve the relationship or marriage. We are takers, not givers, narcissists, not lovers.”

That is point on! If we are to love each other as Christ loves, we will be intentional in finding ways to show love in selfless ways—not selfish ways.

Humbly Fill Your Marriage Box

“Being married is an active process where we daily make our lives about each other and not about ourselves. There’s a quote that says: ‘Humility is not about thinking less of our self, but rather thinking of ourselves less.’ I need to practice having more humility in my marriage. I need to focus more on filling our box, rather than taking from.

“And when the time comes (and it will) when my hand reaches from corner to corner to find an empty box, may I be the first to fill it.

“Here’s to every husband and wife in their journey. May you always fight for your marriage, seek counsel when you need it, show grace where sin abounds and love like crazy.” (Lovelace, from her article, “The Marriage Box”)

We couldn’t say it any better! May we love each other extravagantly! That’s how Christ loves us. Now the challenge is for us to do the same. In Ephesians 5:1-2 we are told to “be imitators of God.” We are to “walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Another way of saying this is presented in The Message:

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

THAT type of love is what we are to keep putting in our marriage box.

Your Marriage Mission

Make it your mission to find out what you can put into your marriage box. You need to find that, which will help you to love one another as you originally vowed to do. This is what God would have you (us) do as husbands and wives. It’s also what God wants us to do as His children so we display His love to a world that needs to witness His love in action.

God wants us to live with each other in such a way that our love reveals and reflects the love of Christ. God can use this to prompt others to say, “I want to know their God better.”

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

May it be so, Lord! May it be so!

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** By Cindy and Steve Wright at marriagemissions.com / Photo by Suzy Hazelwood at Pexel

Father I Know That All My Life

Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love, through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles, and to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am, in whatso’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do for the Lord on whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask in my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more with grateful love to Thee,
More careful, not to serve Thee much, but to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path that call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot, and an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught “the truth” that makes Thy children “free”
And a life of self-renouncing love is a life of liberty.

—————

**By Anna Letitia Waring – 1850 / Photo by Lori McPherson

What He Must Be…

In pastor and author Voddie Baucham’s book, “What He Must Be,” he states that the man must lead in the Word.  To do so, he himself must be deeply rooted in the Word before he can lead his wife in this area.  I have outlined this book for single women to use as a reference guide for choosing a Godly mate and for men to strive for as God’s standard for them to follow.

The information detailed in this outline is not written by me, but was extracted from the book “What He Must Be,” written by Voddie Baucham Jr.  There are also additional notes I have added from his video series “Love and Marriage” on Youtube, the links are below. 

I am adding this to my blog to help raise my sisters’ standards in the men they consider as future husbands.  And to set the standard for brothers to live by and strive for as they prepare to be husbands to my sisters in Christ!

Ephesians 5:25-31 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Biblical Love

An act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that leads to action on behalf of its object; not led by emotion, nor is it void of emotion, that demonstrates itself by actions on behalf of its object

Marriage is a Ministry

  1 – It was God’s first command, “Be fruitful and multiply…”

  2 – A Training Ground for Church Leaders

  3 – An Illustration for a Lost World

  4 – The Preferred State

          a)  Be Prepared

          b)  Two States, One Standard

          c)  Jesus-Our Ultimate Guide

“Marriage is the God–appointed and legitimate union of man and woman in the hope of having children or at least for the purpose of avoiding fornication and sin and living to the glory of God.  The ultimate purpose is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross.”  — Martin Luther

1 – He Must Be a Follower of Christ

a)  A True Believer is Regenerate

a.      He must be born again

b.     There is an infallible connection between regeneration and salvation

b)     A True Believer is Repentant

a.      Repentance is at the core of the gospel message.  A man cannot claim regeneration if he shows no evidence of repentance.

b.     True repentance is the result of an accurate understanding of the significance and gravity of sin, coupled with an overwhelming desire for the remission of that sin through the person and work of Christ.

c)      A True Believer is Reformed

a.      Consistent, perpetual, undeniable, evidence proceeding from his mouth and life on a daily basis.

b. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (1 John 3:9-10)

2 – He Must Be Prepared to Lead

a)  He must lead like Christ

a.  Lead in Love

A man who loves like Christ will protect his heart

A man who loves like Christ will protect her heart

b.  Lead in the Word

Leading in the word requires personal time in the word

Leading in the word requires a grasp of the word

Leading in the word requires a Plan for Growth

Leading in the word requires patient instruction

VIDEO: If he is not a man who can mentor you in the scriptures, he not worthy of being your husband. 

Can he disciple and mentor you in the Word of God?

He has to be equipped to mentor and disciple your children in The Word.

He MUST be this before you even think about him!!

c.  Lead in Righteousness

He must be marked with an upright life

He must nurture holiness in his bride

He must influence his family in righteousness

Video:  A man who ensures your purity.

What he’s saying if he wants to get physical: “I want to use you and I want to dishonor you.”

He must be a man who desires for me to be Pure.

A guy who wants you to move in with him is saying, “I want all the benefits with none of the responsibilities.”

“Sex is like Fire.  You put fire in a fireplace and it warms the whole room.  You let fire out of the fireplace, it will consume and destroy everything in its path. It must be in the proper context…and biblically, the only proper context is Marriage.” — Voddie Baucham Jr.

d.   Lead in Selflessness

He will show restraint and patience throughout the courtship process

He must show Christlike selflessness

He must demonstrate his willingness and desire to put her needs above his own

VIDEO: He must be a man who understands what it means to put others before himself.  If he’s more interested in what he can take from you than what he can give to you, then he’s not the kind of man who leads in selflessness.  If he doesn’t treat you like a delicate flower, keep stepping.  Cause what you’re looking for biblically is a man who nourishes you as he would his own flesh.

e.  Lead in Intimacy

External Intimacy

Internal Intimacy

VIDEO: Intimacy happens when I let someone into a part my life that is not readily available to everyone.

Creates a hedge of protection around the marriage relationship that says this relationship is prioritized above all others.

3 – He Must Be Committed to Children

a)  Committed to having children

b)  Committed to investing in children

c)  Committed to supporting children

4 – He Must Practice the 4 P’s

He must be a Protector

He must possess personal strength, wisdom, and courage

He must be a Provider (Dependence on others is a perversion of biblical manhood)

He must have a job

He must have a work ethic

He must have a plan

He must be a Prophet/Priest

A man must Pray for his family

A man must Preach to his family

A Priest is an intercessor who represents his people before God

A Prophet is one who instructs his people in God’s truth

God has given husbands the responsibility of washing their wives in the water of the Word; Diligently teaching the Law to their children; and bringing them up in the discipline and instruction in the Lord

Love and Marriage Video Series, Voddie Baucham

Love and Marriage, Part 1 (sermon starts at 32min:50sec)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnTCl6Dvr5U&feature=related

Love & Marriage (part 1 – In the Beginning).wmv – YouTube http://www.youtube.com* Sermon starts at – 32min:50sec A sermon series by Voddie Baucham spoken at the 7:22 service at the Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta in 2005

Love and Marriage, Part 2 (sermon starts at 29min)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKGyFyW3-D4&feature=relmfu

Love & Marriage (part 2 – True Love).wmv – YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com* Sermon starts at 29min * A sermon series by Voddie Baucham spoken at the 7:22 service at the Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta in 2005

Love and Marriage, Part 3 (sermon starts at 29min:15sec)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wAdURL_qdQ&feature=relmfu

Love & Marriage (part 3 – The Other Half).wmv – YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com* Sermon starts at 29min:15sec * A sermon series by Voddie Baucham spoken at the 7:22 service at the Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta in 2005

Love and Marriage, Part 4 (sermon starts at 17min:50sec)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cybhnuvS1i0&feature=relmfu

——————————

***By Nina Andres author of the book, “God Ordained Relationship”

***More sermons to do with Christian relationships can be found HERE! Covering all stages of a Christian relationship for men and women: single, courting / dating, marriage, home, bringing up children and all the bits in-between.

Lust Verses Love A Biblical Perspective

Most people know the difference between lust and love so what are they? What does the Bible define as love and as lust?

A Definition of Lust

Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body and it can take nearly any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It is an overwhelming self-absorbed desire or craving for an object, person, or experience that might be good but in most cases, is not. For example, a man or a woman can lust after their spouse and since they are legally married, there is no sin in this, however lusting after someone else’s spouse or someone who’s not married is sin, so clearly, lust and love aren’t the same at all and in many ways, they are actually opposites of one another, for example we can lust after riches, for drugs, for alcohol, and for any number of things that are detrimental to our wellbeing.

A Definition of Love

The way the world defines love and the way that God defines love are not even close to the same thing. As far as the world sees, love is a strong and warm affection that someone has for another or others or for something. It could be like that of a parent for a child or a spouse for their mate or it could be a love for reading, eating, drugs, alcohol, or even shopping. Some of these are good and well, but others can lead to ruin. Love can certainly be a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from a kinship or close friendship, which I have for my own spouse and children and grandchildren and even for my friends but from the biblical standpoint, love and lust are no co-equals since one can be good, while the other can lead to harm.

But-I-say-to-you-that

A Biblical Definition of Lust

I like what C.S. Lewis wrote many years ago. He wrote “If you look upon ham and eggs and lust, you have already committed breakfast in your heart.” This is a very good, biblical definition of lust in the heart. If you covet something or someone, that is lusting in the heart. Exodus 20:17 lists the tenth commandment as “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” so lust is not just about looking at someone of the opposite sex, or for some, looking at someone with lust of the same sex, it is coveting what you don’t have. It is a passionate desire to have what someone else has.

What Lust Can Lead To

David let his lust carry him away as “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful” (2nd Sam 11:2) and so he lusted after her in his heart. This led to adultery and later, to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. This is why James wrote that “after desire (or lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). The proverbs say “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (6:25). Jesus said that it was “out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19). Solomon understood this connection, writing that as a man “thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7a). You can commit adultery without ever committing the physical act. Jesus said that “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28) and of course the same thing applies to women.

A Biblical Definition of Love

There are so many places that define love in the Bible that it will be hard to select only a few. Paul writes that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1st Cor 13:4-7). The love of God is not about feelings or words but “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Love is a verb; it is what you do more than what you say or what you think. We know that Jesus did not feel like taking on all of the sins of humanity, but His great love for us on the cross proved what the love of God is like. He died for us while we were still wicked sinners and His enemies (Rom 5:8, 10).

Conclusion

The differences between love and lust are that we don’t covet what we don’t have. We shouldn’t covet (lust after) our neighbor’s spouse or their goods (Ex 20:17). Love, on the other hand, “does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10) and this means “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:19) but above all “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The difference for believers is that we are told “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). The greatest display of love was not what Jesus felt or what God feels but it was revealed at Calvary. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and that’s just what He did. Lust harms, love sacrifices.

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**By Jack Wellman at what Christians wat to know / Photo by Mark Stebnicki at Pexels

35 Signs of A General and Spiritual Narcissist aka The Jezebel Spirit

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

A narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which a person has an inflated sense of self or importance. This disorder can cause challenges in all areas of life—at work, at home, in your health, and in your relationships. A narcissist is often characterized by behaviours of grandiosity. One of the root causes of narcissism is pride and wanting to exalt oneself above others, more on pride here. “Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride.” Quote by DC Robertsson.

It may be easy to spot narcissistic behaviour in someone else, but it can be more difficult to identify that same behaviour within oneself. When we’re looking inward, we often sugar coat our behaviour or deny it altogether.

If you are a narcissist, you might not think anything is wrong with you. That would be an expected response. It can be an insult to a fragile self-esteem to admit your need for treatment, but we want to encourage you to first admit there’s a problem, then seek the Lord in prayer for spiritual healing, as the Lord Jesus is also known as the Great Physician, the healer and restorer of all things. You can also seek assistance from a trusted Christian counsellor. This will help you find other ways to improve your self-esteem and self-worth without these damaging behaviours.

It’s sad to say, but not everyone who claims to be Christian is really a follower of Christ. Many are simply pursuing their own agendas, be it money, fame, or power. These false disciples come in many shapes and forms, but perhaps none is more dangerous as the Spiritual Narcissist. A Spiritual Narcissist is someone who uses the Gospel to build themselves up while they tear others down. If left unchecked, their actions can inflict devastating harm on both Christians and non-Christians alike.

35 Narcissistic Traits

If a number of the narcissistic traits listed below are present in your life, we would encourage to reach out first to the Lord and /or a licensed Christian counsellor.

1. You ignore people’s boundaries

You might not feel like other people’s boundaries apply to you or that it’s not a big deal if you cross them. In fact, you may get a kick out of crossing them and getting a reaction out of the individual. On the other hand, you might not even notice another person’s boundaries or pick up on social cues that something is not acceptable.

When someone communicates a boundary with you, you may be shocked and feel a need for them to explain why you have to follow it and why it applies to you rather than simply respecting the boundary.

2. You feel superior to other people

You might look down on other people and feel like you are far superior to them in intelligence, looks, talent, and more. This superiority typically exceeds narcissists actual abilities or talents and is a defence mechanism meant to protect them from feeling vulnerable or putting a dent in their self-esteem.

3. You suffer from extreme perfectionism

You might suffer from extreme perfectionism and get enraged when you or others don’t perform according to your standards.

4. You have an excessive need for constant validation and attention

If you’re not getting attention or validation from other people, you may feel discouraged, unloved, and depressed. You might be incapable of validating yourself or feeling worthwhile without others telling you so.

5. You blame and shame others and never accept responsibility

If another person makes a mistake, you may intentionally shame them in an effort to damage their self-worth (lest they think they’re better than you). When you make a mistake, you also likely never accept responsibility and pass the blame on to someone else.

6. You get pleasure from putting other people down or causing them harm 

You might take pleasure in making people cry or hurting their feelings, giving you a sense of power to have such an impact on that person. It may also make you feel a sense of control.

7. You lack empathy and compassion

You may scoff at someone’s misfortune or fail to feel sympathy for someone who is ill. If someone in your life dies, you may feel very little emotion and lack compassion for those who are experiencing a loss.

8. You have a sense of entitlement

You may begrudge the world and think that people owe you. You might think you deserve more than you’ve gotten out of life or that you deserve a better job, higher pay check, better partner, or more expensive car. You may look to the luxuries of the world and believe you have a right to them.

9. You are arrogant and conceited

Paradoxically, underneath it all, narcissists often have very fragile self-esteem and are hypersensitive. But, narcissists are often at the same time extremely arrogant and conceited. You may believe no one would refuse you, find you unattractive or unqualified, or not choose you for a promotion, partner, project, etc.

10. You exaggerate your skills, talents, and achievements

You may over-exaggerate your abilities or what you’ve achieved in life and truly believe that you are at the top-level when it’s very apparent to others that you’re not. When you and someone else tell a story about the same experience but there are glaring differences and inconsistencies.

11. You are preoccupied with success, power, outward appearances, or status symbols

You may be preoccupied with achieving power through money, authority, position, or leadership. You could be obsessed with obtaining status symbols such as a large home, sports car, “trophy wife or husband,” vacation home, yacht, country club membership, and more.

You might be so focused on your appearance that you spend hours obsessing over what you eat, working out, or undergoing plastic surgery. You might also demand a partner do the same, too.

12. You constantly feel underappreciated or undervalued

If you fail to receive the recognition, thanks, or applause you feel you deserve you might feel underappreciated or undervalued. Even if you do receive it, but not to the level or degree you believe you should, you may still feel this way. You might constantly think people are taking advantage of you or do not understand how lucky they are to have you in their life.

13. You are self-righteous

You may believe you do everything right and never make mistakes. You might believe that you follow all of God’s rules or obey the ten commandments and because of this, you are holier than other people.

14. You think everyone else is ignorant

You may think that everyone else is stupid or less knowledgeable than you. You may expect them to mess-up, not know what you know, or need your help if they’re going to succeed.

15. You like to control others and get them to do your bidding

You may get a power high from getting others to do your bidding or manipulating them into doing so without them knowing it. You might like to control when a partner can do something and how often. You might also go out of your way to try to control your environment and mitigate risk to your ego.

16. You despise talking about feelings or emotions

Narcissists often struggle controlling their emotions and change the subject any time feelings or emotions are brought up. They may refuse to “go there,” change the topic or huff at the idea of needing to be “sensitive or talk about that kind of thing.”

17. You don’t listen, you just wait to talk

If you’re a narcissist, you may dominate conversations. When someone else is talking, you might not be listening, but rather just waiting to talk or occupying your mind thinking about all that you’re going to say and the points you’re going to make.

18. You are unfaithful in relationships

You might get a kick out of seducing others or getting them to do things they’d never do for you. You might feel an insatiable need to ensure other people are still attracted to you and even hold that over a partner’s head, warning him or her that if he or she isn’t on his or her best behaviour, you can always get someone else.

19. You often have people end relationships with you in less than six months

If you find that individuals regularly break up with you once they’ve got time to know you and all comment on similar behaviours as a reason why you might be a narcissist.

Often times in a relationship, it takes a while for the relationship to reach a level of comfort where an individual starts letting their guard down and showing their true character. If partners have repeatedly brought up troublesome behaviours and left you because of it, you may have some narcissistic behaviours.

20. You are a serial dater or seducer

Since narcissists get their validation from other people, you might be a serial dater or serial seducer, getting your sense of worth from how many people say “yes” to you or find you charming or attractive.

21. You are hypersensitive to slights

If you’re a narcissist, you might be incredibly sensitive to slights or criticism. These slights and critiques can be highly damaging to a fragile ego and may cause extreme rage or depression.

22. You demand special favours and compliance

You may constantly demand special favours from people around you or demand extreme compliance from a partner or children. If you don’t receive those favours or compliance, you might become extremely agitated and aggressive. You will never consider that you might have asked too much, but that the individuals don’t understand your worth, value, or entitlement.

23. You struggle to deal with stress and adapting to change

Because narcissists like to control their external environment and other people, they can struggle to adapt to change or stress, which naturally make a person feel out of control.

24. You get aggressively angry when you don’t get what you want

If you don’t get what you want, you may blow up or fly into a rage that includes threatening others, breaking things, causing violence, and more.

25. You get unusually depressed or upset when you fall short or fail

You may beat yourself up (or physically punish yourself) for not achieving a certain result, making a bad decision, or failing at a goal.

Below are 10 warning signs that you may be dealing with a Spiritual Narcissist:

1. They Constantly Reference their own Achievements

The Spiritual Narcissist loves to self-promote. For them, every conversation is an opportunity to share just how superior they are to the average believer. They typically go about this by listing off their own achievements. You’ll hear them talk incessantly about their upcoming book, their latest blog post, sermon series, missions work, or that time they led someone to Christ. Scripture tells us not seek our own glory and to let our work stand on its own (Proverbs 27:2), but the Spiritual Narcissist will flaunt anything they believe might bring them praise.

The best way for Christians to counter this display is to follow the example of Micah 6:8, live justly, show mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD your God.

2. They Invade Conversations

The Spiritual Narcissist craves control, and their highest authority is always their own self-reference. As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to invade the personal or private conversations of others. They’ll often do this under the guise of “helping” or “correcting” fellow Christians, but they have no real interest in two-way dialogue. You’ll notice they also have a way of injecting their own opinions into situations, and are the first voice their complaints about recent events in the Church. The Bible warns that such people create division among believers and serve only their own appetites (Romans 16:17-18, Psalms 36:1-4).

There’s no good way to speak with Spiritual Narcissists (Proverbs 26:4-5), the best response Christians can make is stand their ground and refuse to be bullied.

3. They Twist Scripture

Someone once said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires”. In the same way, a Spiritual Narcissist uses scripture as a tool for their purpose instead of God’s. They approach the Bible with a closed mind, memorizing only a handful of useful verses that will justify their behaviour. Anything else, particularly scripture that conflicts with their actions, gets ignored. Like the men of Jude 1:4, they should not to be trusted.

The best defence Christians have against this kind of faulty theology is to simply read the Bible. The more familiar we become with God’s work, the more familiar we become with God.

4. They Profess Love, but Never Show It

Perhaps the easiest way to identify a Spiritual Narcissist is to see if their works match their words. Many will claim they have nothing but love and compassion in their hearts for those they rebuke, but their actions prove otherwise. Matthew 7 teaches us that we can judge a prophet by the fruit of his labours, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” So, what kind of harvest do they bring to God’s table? Division? Disdain? Cruelty?

Love is more than words, love is action. That’s what separates the true Christian from the Spiritual Narcissist.

5. They Talk, but They Don’t Listen

Listening can be a powerful tool for Christians. Listening builds trust, creates empathy, and fosters understanding among individuals. James 1:19 even urges believers to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The Spiritual Narcissist, by contrast, is quick to speak, quick to take offense, and incapable of listening. They enjoy being the loudest one in the room, and the idea of deferring to someone else galls them.

A true Christian listens to others, even when they might not agree with them. Listening requires that we be selfless, which is the one thing a Spiritual Narcissist can never be.

6. They Live in Echo Chambers

In 1 Kings 22Jehoshaphat king of Judah and Ahab king of Israel join forces to wage war against a neighbouring adversary. However, before they depart Jehoshaphat decides to inquire upon the Lord for guidance. Four hundred prophets’ parade in front of the kings proclaiming victory is at hand, but Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced. When asked whether there is still a disciple of the Lord they can speak with, Ahab reluctantly admits,

“There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”    

Like Ahab, the Spiritual Narcissist lives in their own personal echo chamber. They surround themselves with individuals who will always affirm their existing preconceptions or opinions. Don’t make the same mistake. A wise Christian knows the right answer isn’t always the popular one.

7. They Refuse to Acknowledge Their Mistakes 

No one likes admitting they were wrong. It’s a humbling (and let’s be honest, sometimes embarrassing) experience, but accepting responsibility for your mistakes is the first step towards real maturity. Naturally, the Spiritual Narcissist will have none of it. Even when confronted with insurmountable evidence, the Spiritual Narcissist will continue to defend their actions as right. For them, it’s not about the greater good, it’s about protecting their self-image.     

Humility is a precious gift. It allows us to learn from our mistakes, recognize our faults, and grow into better people because of it. Take some advice from Philippians 3:13, accept what you’ve done wrong and strive to live for what comes ahead!

9. They Lead by Force, Not Example

A Spiritual Narcissist makes for the worst kind of leader. They’re petty, uncompromising, spiteful, and controlling. Heaven help the ministry which falls under their stewardship. By comparison, great leaders have always inspired their followers by example. They correct others without humiliating them, mentor those who need growth, and weigh their words carefully before speaking.

Take David, who despite his faults, showed humility and wisdom for God’s anointed rulers (1 Samuel 24). What about Peter? He spent his life testifying to Christ’s resurrection and building bridges of fellowship between strangers (Acts 10). Unlike the Spiritual Narcissist, a true leader knows their duty is to serve, not be served.

10. They Ultimately Put God Second

An expert in the law once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. His reply,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” – Matthew 22:37-40

Many Christians know this verse by heart, but the meaning behind Christ’s words goes much farther than we realize. Not only is Jesus calling believers to love God with all their heart, he’s telling them our faithfulness is affirmed by our love for our neighbours. To put it simply: we can only love God if we’re unselfish. A Spiritual Narcissist will always put God second. Whether it’s by neglecting Christ’s commands, or how they treat their neighbours, pride will always make a person spiritually toxic. Don’t let yourself miss out on God’s amazing plan by being a Spiritual Narcissist.

Some More Bible Examples and Verses

Bible examples of people with one of the variant types of narcissism from covert, overt / grandiose, somatic, sexual, malignant, cerebral and spiritual: Diotrephes, Cain, Laban, Jezebel, King Ahab, Haman, Potiphar’s wife, King Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Delilah, King Herod, Diotrophes, Ananias & Sapphira, King Sennacherib, The people of Sodom, Herodias, King Ahasuerus, Adonijah, Absalom, Judas, the Pharisees and Satan the devil.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 amp)

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!” (2 Corinthians 11:13-21)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 1-3)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Christian Counselling to Overcome Narcissistic Traits

If you recognize these narcissistic traits in yourself, getting treatment can help you overcome your internal and external conflicts for a more enjoyable life and better relationships. Reach out to God in prayer for healing (sometimes deliverance is needed) and us, for Christian counselling to overcome narcissism. You were created in the image of God for the purpose of bringing Him glory. Perhaps you are currently in a season in which you do not feel that you are bringing glory to God. Maybe you are even questioning whether you were made in His image. Many people reach a point in their lives when they feel stuck. They want to move forward, but they feel powerless and don’t know where to turn. Using biblical principles, warmth, and patience, I will work with you to seek lasting, positive change that will help you reflect God’s image and bring Him glory.

Side Note: We are all sinners saved by grace, and we all need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. May the Lord help us to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and give us much grace, discernment and wisdom in these last days.

**How to have a relationship with God : The Path To Salvation, please click: HERE

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**By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC at Bothell Christian Counselling & Ryan Duncan at Crosswalk.com / Photo by Lilartsy at Pexels

Learn to Desire the Best for Others

Our passion should be to know God better and better, because this is eternal life. We are going to spend all eternity getting to know God more and more. This is why eternity will not be boring for anyone whose passion is to know God. Our earthly life too will then not be boring any more. Let us learn something of God’s life and of His ways from Genesis 2, in the way He dealt with Adam. There we see that it was God Who saw Adam’s need for a wife and Who met that need and made a wife for him. There we see what God’s nature is like. God is always alert to the needs of people and does all that He can to meet those needs. When we partake of this Divine nature, we too will become like that – always alert to the needs and problems of those around us and doing everything we can in order to meet those needs! This will involve a great deal of sacrifice on our part often. We need therefore to ask ourselves whether we are willing to pay this price for partaking of the Divine nature.

Our Adamic nature is the exact opposite of this Divine nature. The life of Adam is thoroughly selfish and makes us alert only to our own needs and to the needs of our own family members. In fact it is so full of selfishness and jealousy that it does not want the needs of others to be met even by another. On the contrary. it enjoys seeing people suffer.

When man sinned, God placed cherubs in front of the tree of life with a sword that turned in every direction to guard the way to that tree. The tree of life symbolises eternal life – knowing God. Through this sword placed in front of the tree of life, God was symbolically showing Adam that if anyone now wanted to partake of the tree of life, he had to first experience the sword falling on his own selfish life. We read in Genesis 3:21 that as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, God killed an animal in Eden and clothed them with coats of the skin of that animal. There too God was teaching them the same lesson – that the only way for them to be clothed now was through the way of sacrifice and death. Adam and Eve had tried to clothe themselves at first without any “death” – with just fig leaves. But God threw those leaves away and showed them the right way to be clothed. So we see right from the beginning God emphasising sacrifice as the way for man to fellowship with Him and to be clothed with His nature.

God told Cain that his fundamental problem was that he “did not intend well” towards his brother Abel (Genesis 4:7). Jude speaks of those who walk in “the way of Cain” (Jude 11). Who are they? They are those who do not intend well towards their brothers. It is good for all of us to have a spiritual check-up in this matter. Can you honestly say that you desire the very best for all the brothers and sisters in your local church and for their families? Can you also say that you desire the very best for other believers whom you know in other denominations? Then widen the circle still further and ask yourself if you desire the very best for all the people whom you know, including your relatives, your enemies and those who have harmed you in any way. If you find a disturbance in your heart (instead of a rejoicing) when something good happens to another person or to his children, or if you sense a rejoicing in your heart (instead of a grief) when something evil happens to him or his family, what do such attitudes indicate? Just this that the life of Adam is alive and active in you.

If you are honest with yourself, you will soon discover whether you are walking the way of Cain or not. You must be quick when you see that evil Adamic life within you to put it to death, if you want the fire and the anointing of God to rest upon you constantly.

It is when the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies TOTALLY, that there will be much fruit. One who dies totally to himself will never get offended, no matter what others do or don’t do. He will always intend well towards all. He will never get angry in any matter that concerns himself and he will never quarrel with anyone. He will never shed a single tear for himself in self-pity – for, surely, dead people don’t weep in their graves!!

Cain’s face was sullen and dark when he did not intend well towards his brother (Gen.4:6). We may not realise it, but the attitude we have in our hearts is often reflected on our faces. If you intend well towards all, your face will always beam with the joy of the Lord. Many believers are walking in the way of Cain. Beneath their weak smiles and the “Praise the Lord”s that come from their lips, are found wrong attitudes towards their fellow-believers. When people turn against you and do evil to you, God uses them to give you a scan of your real heart condition. If you cannot love them, your heart-scan will show that you have NOT partaken of God’s nature, for God’s nature is one that loves even His enemies. Jesus intended well even towards Judas Iscariot.

God desires the very best for all people. The gospel message is that we too can partake of this nature. Those who haven’t understood the gospel thus haven’t understood the gospel at all.

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**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author.

The Dream

THE DREAM

“When I, Lori McPherson, first became a Christian, I had a glorious dream that was so real. I was standing on the wayside watching all these people busy preparing for something. They all had their own tasks to do, and it seemed they only had a limited time to prepare. Then I realized it was a wedding, an extravagant wedding fit for a king. I wondered to myself whose wedding it was, and how glorious it would be. Then I saw the bridegroom in all his magnificent splendour, so handsome! And I wondered what lucky bride was going to get this handsome and majestic man. And it’s as if all the people there could read my thoughts, and one of them turned to me puzzled as to why I was querying this and said “you!” I was shocked that I could be seen and heard, and tried to shrink away out of sight. At that moment I was afraid and all these thoughts went through my mind, ‘does he know who I am?’ for I knew I was not worthy of him. ‘Does he know my past?’ because I could tell he was so righteous, just and pure, and I wasn’t. He was way out of my league, and “has there been some mistake?!” all these thoughts crossed my mind because I was dirty, blemished and defiled. But the bridegroom came to me and smiled warmly, it was the Lord Jesus Himself. I couldn’t look at Him, I was ashamed. As He stood there, I could feel His love for me, so kind and accepting. He then held up a large picture frame with a blank white canvas and portrayed to me that this was to be part of the wedding decoration once finished, as before it could be put up, the blank canvas had to be filled with fruit that I had placed on it. This fruit was the fruits of the Spirit, the work I had allowed the Holy Spirit to do in me and through me during my earthly lifetime. This would be like a decoration of honour to Him, a wedding gift.”

**This wonderful dream represented the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation 19:6-9. In an article by Christianity.com the wedding feast that John referred to in revelation is explained below, which leads up to the Big Day. John saw and heard the multitudes in heaven praising the Lord God at the wedding feast of the Lamb. The wedding feast of the Lamb is the marriage supper which was about to begin. To understand what the marriage supper of the Lamb is, let’s consider the three significant wedding customs in the time of Christ.

Three Major Parts of a Wedding Feast

1. A Marriage Contract. Wedding customs in the time of Christ were signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. Additionally, this contract was signed by the parents of the bridegroom, and the bridegroom himself would pay a dowry (down payment) to the bride or her parents. Such a process began the betrothal period, which today would be called the engagement. One example of this was the one Joseph and Mary were in when Mary was found to be with baby Jesus in the womb (Matthew 1:18; Luke 2:5).

2. A Torchlight Parade Through the Streets. The bridegroom accompanied by his male friends went to the house of the bride at midnight, creating a torchlight parade through the streets. Such a parade would not be a surprise to the bride as she knew well in advance such an event was taking place so she would be ready with her maidens. They would then all join the parade and end up at the bridegroom’s home. Such a custom is the basis of the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.

3. The Marriage Supper Itself. During the time of Jesus, the marriage supper itself would go on for days as illustrated by the wedding at Cana in John 2:1-2. The events described by John in Revelation 19:7-10 describe the third phase of the wedding feast the marriage supper of the Lamb. John isn’t meaning to skip the first two phases of the wedding feast customs but is communicating they already have happened.

The first phase was completed on earth when each individual Christian placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ. The dowry, in this case, was paid by the bridegroom’s parent (God the Father) because of the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the Bride’s behalf. The Church is betrothed to Christ much the same way as the wise virgin in the parable. All Christians should be watching and waiting for the appearance of the Bridegroom the Lord Jesus (2 Timothy 4:8). The second phase picture, when Christ comes to claim His bride and take the Church to the Father’s house. The Marriage Supper follows as the third and final step and is a glorious celebration of all who are in Christ Jesus.

Delight in the Lord and the Final Day

The Christian will one day find their ultimate delight at the time when He consummates all things (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). Revelation 19 describes the day where we will become like Jesus. On that day, we will wear the most beautiful wedding gown made up of our righteous deeds (Revelation 19:6-8). As glorified Christians, the people of God will finally fulfil the purpose for which we’ve been created, which is complete, unbroken fellowship with God. Such joy we will experience on that day is beyond description as we will see Christ face-to-face (Revelation 19:9). Every born again, Christian will experience this day because they have been declared righteous in the Lord’s courtroom.

The Lord’s Supper and the Wedding Feast

The Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day is a foretaste of such a day as the Wedding Feast. Every time we eat of the Lord’s Supper, we should long all the more for the day when the feast will never end. Whether or not you are partaking of the Lord’s Supper this Lord’s Day, focus your heart on the great wedding feast with the Lord Jesus.

** Dream by Lori McPherson © Copyright – Lori McPherson. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author / Article by Christianity.com / Photo by Edward Eyer at pexels

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How to be saved: The Path To Salvation

7 Characteristics of the Bride

My personal testimony

What Real Love Looks Like

As a parent, one thing I’ve come to learn is that true love for someone does not mean you give them whatever they want. For example, my children would like to eat donuts every night for dinner. In this situation, my love for them is the very reason that I deny them what they want. When I deny them, they may be tempted to think I don’t love them. But real love desires the person’s long-term good, over giving them what they want all the time.

It’s very helpful to me to remember that God loves me with such a perfect love, that He will deny many of my earthly desires. To someone who doesn’t know God, this may look like God doesn’t care for or love them. But whoever knows God as their loving Father, they will no doubt be thankful for the many prayers and desires He didn’t answer, knowing that when they come into eternity they will look back and say “I’m glad He did things exactly the way He did.”

So if real love for my children doesn’t look like ‘giving them whatever they want’, what does it look like? The Bible – our foundation of truth tells us what real love is and what it looks like. I’d like to list out many practical examples of love the Lord has burdened my heart with, that illustrate the principles of real love as defined by the Bible. This isn’t meant to be a complete exhaustive list, but a list of examples God has put on my heart as practical goals I can have as I try love others, and God better.

CHILDREN

Real love toward my children should look like:

• Asking God for wisdom to raise them (James 1:5)

• Praying for them consistently

• Taking their sin and disobedience very seriously, and not brushing it off

• Carefully disciplining them and rebuking them when it will build them up, not too severely and not too lightly, and never out of anger (Prov 3:11-12, Col 3:21, Heb 12:5-8)

• Teaching them that God loves them and is always with them, so they never have to be scared, and they can talk to Him any time (Heb 13:6)

• Teaching them the Bible, giving them foundational godly wisdom for life and godliness (Prov 4:5)

• Being patient with them (Eph 4:2)

• Not ignoring them

• Spending quality time with them

• Encouraging them (1 Thess 5:11)

• • Not losing my temper and snapping in anger at them (responding verbally or physically in a harsh way that is driven not by desire for their good but anger)

• Playing with them and laughing with them

SPOUSE

Real love toward my wife should look like:

• Praying for and encouraging her (Heb 3:13)

• Plain and simple kindness (Eph 4:32)

• Considering what burdens she’s had throughout the day when I’ve been away at work

• Holding my tongue and keeping quiet when I am tempted to be angry or frustrated (James 1:19)

• Working hard at my job to provide for her what she needs (food, shelter, etc) without getting in to debt and making our family a slave to others outside our home (1 Tim 5:8)

• Being faithful to her – not committing adultery in the heart by looking lustfully at another woman (Matt 5:28)

• Being a servant, sacrificing time and energy to make things easier for her (John 13:12-14)

• Helping with household chores

• Not leaving messes around the house

• Sharing little words that God has spoken to me – ‘salting the conversation’ (Col 4:6) with the things of God, and ‘washing her in the Word’ (Ephesians 5:26)

• Expressing appreciation for her

• Laboring to present her as a spotless bride to Jesus (Ephesians 5:27)

• Rooting for her to grow in the Lord

• Playfully joking with her to make her smile, and to let her know that I enjoy her (Prov 5:18-19)

THE CHURCH

Real love toward my church should look like:

• Being quick and eager to forgive others (Eph 4:32, Prov 19:11, Luke 17:3)

• Encouraging them – letting them know how special to God they are and loved, and how necessary to the church body they are (Heb 3:13)

• Encouraging them to seek for an intimate life with the Lord, desiring that they would be enraptured with Him and not anything else in this life (2 Cor 11:2-3)

• Challenging them to become Christ-like (Heb 6)

• Praying for them in secret (Php 2:3-4, Matt 6:6)

• Not gossiping or speaking negatively about others (Psalm 41:7)

• Doing what I can to help them if I become aware of some need they have (James 2:15-16)

• Thinking of them throughout the week and bearing burdens of others, praying with real meaning for them and pouring my heart out to God (Gal 6:2, Matt 6:7)

• Never comparing myself with anybody in the church (2 Cor 10:12)

• Being real, not a fake hypocrite – “Let love be without hypocrisy” – being open about my own weaknesses and not trying to hide them so people think I’m godly (Rom 12:9), and thereby discouraging them making them think they are ungodly because they still have struggles

• Getting ‘under’ people by serving them and doing things quietly in the background, instead of trying to climb my way above everyone by seeking honor (Php 2:5-8)

• Weeping with those who are going through a hard time, not saying “I’m glad it’s not me” (Rom 12:15)

• Not being envious, but rejoicing with them when something good happens for them, cheering for them

• Exhorting them always to keep pressing into Jesus – to be persistent and consistent, to keep going even when things are tough (Matt 24:13)

• Gently rebuking them when necessary, so they can become aware and repent of their sin (Gal 6:1)

GOD

Real love toward the Lord should look like:

• Seeking Him alone and not His gifts (Psalm 73:25)

• Obedience, both inwardly and outwardly – “For this is love the love of God: that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3)

• Presenting my body as a living sacrifice to Him, and my body parts as His instruments of righteousness (Rom 12:1, Rom 6:13)

• Considering everything else on this earth besides Him as worthless, and living like that (not chasing after money, comfort, success or the pleasure of this world, but only chasing after Christ) – (Php 3:8)

• Laboring to build up His church (not in numbers but in Christ-likeness) “Do you love me? Tend my lambs” (John 21:15-17)

• Seeking for gifts that can build up the church in Christ, and eagerly desiring those gifts not to feel good about myself or significant, but desiring them for the sake of others (1 Cor 14:1-12)

• Being eager to spend time with Him and having a desire to always be in His presence, regardless of wherever I am or whatever I’m doing (1 John 1:7)

• Leaving anything He asks me to give up (even if not sinful) because I always want to be close to Him (Psalm 73:25, 28)

• Going to Him when I am struggling with some issue, and not trying to solve my problems myself without Him (1 Peter 5:6-7)

• Hating sin because it grieves Him (Eph 4:30). Not wanting to hurt the One I love the most

• Not complaining when something goes wrong or doesn’t turn out as I’d have hoped, but surrendering myself to it as God’s will, and praising Him in spite of the outcome (2 Cor 12:8-9)

• Being faithful to work hard at doing the mundane day to day tasks, because I’m doing it for Him (1 Cor 10:31, 1 Thess 4:11)

• Seeking eternal life – which is to know Him intimately (John 17:3)

• Cleansing myself because I want to be like Him (1 John 3:2-3) – (by cleansing, not just outwardly but cleansing all the evil that’s inside – things like anger, selfishness, greed, loving money and material things, a gossiping tongue, laziness, lukewarmness toward seeking God)

Up to this point I’ve only tried to illustrate what I believe real human love looks and doesn’t look like. But I’ve also been blessed to meditate on and see in God’s Word what His perfect love for me does and doesn’t look like.

God’s love for me doesn’t look like:

• Answering every prayer and giving me whatever I ask, no matter the consequences (2 Cor 12:8-9)

• Withholding all sickness, physical issues, job or family problems

• Withholding every temptation from me (1 Cor 10:13)

• Making me very wealthy (Matt 19:23)

• Giving me only easy relationships (at work, in my family, in the church, etc)

God’s love for me looks like:

• Giving me many precious promises in His Word so I can partake of His nature (2 Peter 1:4)

• Justifying me through Christ and now seeing me as righteous, just as if I’ve never sinned (2 Cor 5:21)

• Filling me with His Spirit so I can live in righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit (Romans 14:17)

• Always being with me (Heb 13:5)

• Not just changing my location forever (from Earth to Heaven), but changing what I am forever (2 Cor 5:17)

• Putting boundaries around me that will guide me to seek for Him (Acts 17:26-27)

• Willingness to subject me to hardship for my eternal good (Romans 8:28)

• Willingness to discipline me (Hebrews 12:6)

• Always providing my needs, both physical and spiritual (Luke 12:29-32)

• Always thinking of my eternal good over the temporary earthly gain I could have (Mark 8:36)

• A fervent desire and joy to fellowship with me and be close to me (Zeph 3:17)

• A fervent desire to see me grow in the image of Christ, and working all of my circumstances to achieve this goal (Rom 8:28-29)

And the most special illustration to me of what God’s love for me looks like is:

Not holding back what was most precious to Him – sending His Son to earth to become a man forever, and as a man to die for me so I can have an intimate relationship with Him, knowing Him as my loving Father:

John 3:16, John 17:3

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life – And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent

Luke 15:24

“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

**By Bobby MacDonald at NCCF Church

Overcoming Sexual Passions

In Ezekiel 16:49-50, God describes the real sins of Sodom that led to the destruction of that city (in Genesis 19). Most of us have always associated Sodom with sodomy (homosexuality) and other sexual sins. But sexual sin was the ultimate result of a way of life. What was it that led them into such depths of evil? Here we are told that Sodom’s sins were actually:

1.Pride

2. Laziness

3. Gluttony (love of good food)

4. Neglecting the poor and needy

These were the reasons why God wiped out that city. It is interesting to note that God does not even mention their sexual sin. Sexual sin in Sodom was the result of their lazy, comfortable life-style. What can we learn from this? That there is a close connection between:

  • Pride and sexual sin.
  • Laziness and sexual sin.
  • Gluttony and sexual sin.
  • A lack of concern for other people and sexual sin.

Consider just these four areas. Many of you who are young have to admit that you are finding it very difficult to overcome your sexual passions. That is an extremely difficult area. But why not begin by overcoming in these four easier areas? You may, then, find it easier to overcome in the sexual area.

Begin first of all, by humbling yourself in all situations. Avoid all arrogance.

Then begin to be hard-working and diligent in whatever you do.

Then try fasting – avoiding food – once in a while.

And fourthly, begin to think a little more about the needs of people around you and see how you can help them.

Try this prescription for one year and you may discover that overcoming your sexual passions becomes easier. We cannot overcome any sin without grace from God – but He gives His grace only to the humble; and He helps only those who are kind and helpful to others.


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**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

**Videos on overcoming addictions and sexual sin can be found HERE!

Dowry

The Dowry System in India

It is unfortunately, normal among Christians of all denominations in India, for a boy’s father to ask for a dowry from the girl’s father before a marriage is finalised. This has reduced marriage to a business deal. Among unbelievers, such a practice is understandable because, being spiritually blind, they allow covetousness to rule their lives. But what shall we say when most believers also indulge in this practice – even those who claim to be Spirit-filled? Surely the Devil has blinded them too.

Many a marriage arrangement has failed because the parents of the girl could not meet the exorbitant demand for dowry made by the parents of the boy. Many girls in our land have been emotionally disturbed and brought to frustration because of this – and some have even committed suicide. Every day in India, some wife somewhere burns herself to death because of her husband harassing her to get more dowry from her father.

God will severely judge all those who make marriage a matter of striking a financial deal. This judgment will begin at the house of God, among those who claim to be born again. It is because many believers have not spoken out against the evil practice of dowry that it is still so widely prevalent in Christendom in India today. It is a sad thing indeed when those who should be standing upright for God in a warped and crooked world, become warped and crooked themselves. No Christian who wants to please God should ever ask for, or receive a dowry.

Some brothers hide under the excuse that it is their parents who ask for dowry and not they themselves. But if they have any convictions at all, why don’t they speak up and tell their parents that they don’t want any dowry? The reason must be that they too secretly desire the money. If they are convinced that the dowry system is wrong, they should speak up for the truth. It is surprising that many brothers who are strong-willed when it comes to other matters, act like spineless jelly-fish when it comes to expressing their convictions on dowry to their parents!

Some brothers say that it is only reasonable that their parents who have spent so much money on their education should now receive some money as dowry from the girl’s parents. But the girl’s parents have also spent money on educating her! Why doesn’t the boy give money to her father for giving him an educated girl??

Others justify their asking for dowry by saying that their parents will need money to give as dowry for their sisters when the latter get married. But we can be certain that God will not let anyone down, who seeks to honour Him in this matter. If you honour Him, He will honour you and give good husbands to your sisters (or daughters) without your having to pay any dowry (1 Samuel 2:30). If you say you don’t have faith for that, then I have nothing more to say to you, for I am writing now only for wholehearted Christians. The commandments of Jesus are meant only for wholehearted Christians.

Others may ask, “What is wrong in receiving money which the father of a girl gives gladly to her as a gift?” There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But before any brother uses this as an excuse for his covetousness, let him answer these three questions first:

(a) Was money any factor at all (even if the least important) in deciding the marriage?

(b) Did you or your representative (whether father or relatives) ever ask for the money, (or try to find out how much money the girl’s parents had) before or after the marriage had been settled?

(c) Did you secretly hope that money would be given by the girl’s parents (either to the girl or to you)?

If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, then you have certainly fallen a prey to covetousness, however well it may have been covered up by different excuses.

It is in such situations that the contradiction between a believer’s preaching and his practice becomes evident to all. No wonder infidels are prompted to say, “Whatever Christians may preach, when it comes to money, they have the same religion as everyone else”.

In some places, I have heard that the dowry system is the reverse of what is found in most parts of India. There the boy has to give a dowry to the girl’s father in order to marry her. But whichever dowry system it be, the practice is an abomination to God.

Many may resent such a strong denunciation of the dowry system. But we must remember that the system is a product of man’s covetousness, which the Bible calls idolatry (Colossians 3:5). One has only to read the severe denunciation of idolatry in the Old Testament to realize how God detests it. The prophets of old were fiery in their preaching against it. They did not mince words when speaking against that which God hated.

We have preached against and stood against dowry consistently in CFC ever since the Lord established our church in 1975.

Personally, I have practised exactly what I have written above, in my own life. I refused to allow any discussion of dowry at the time of my wedding. I took the same stand against dowry when my four sons were getting married. In addition, I never sought to find out whether the parents of the girls (whom my sons were marrying) were rich or whether the girls themselves had good educational qualifications that would enable them to work and earn money. Unfortunately, these are the matters that most believers today are keen on finding out when getting their sons married. I was only keen to find out if the girls themselves loved the Lord and were disciples of the Lord Jesus. And I thank God that He honoured my desire by giving each of my four sons God-fearing wives who would help them in their ministry for the Lord and also help them to raise God-fearing children.

Whenever I conduct a wedding, I always take a signed declaration from both the bride and the bridegroom stating that no dowry has been exchanged between them or their parents. I do this so that both parties see the seriousness of this evil. If any dowry was given or received, then I refuse to conduct the wedding. If they deceive me they are answerable to God.

To expect dowry, or to accept dowry are both just as bad as asking for dowry. Those who accept or expect a dowry are both covetous. Such “Christians” should be honest and call themselves “heathen“. They are certainly NOT followers of Jesus Christ.

Can you picture your asking Jesus to negotiate with a girl’s father about the amount of dowry he should pay you before you agree to give your son in marriage to his daughter? You know very well that Jesus would never be willing to negotiate in such a matter. That itself should show you that expecting or receiving a dowry is wrong.

Receiving dowry or giving dowry or helping someone receive a dowry are all offences according to the law in India. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 states:

“If anyone gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment for not less than five years and with fine not less than Rs.15,000 or the amount of value of dowry, whichever is more.”

Leaders of churches should be the foremost to obey the country’s laws and to honour God in this matter. Any church-leader who is unwilling to take a stand against this evil dowry system has no right to remain in leadership in any church. Some leaders may secretly take a dowry without anyone knowing it. But God will deal with such hypocrites in His own time.

At a wedding, money may be given for the actual expenses of the wedding and the reception. But even this should ideally be equally shared by both parties. Thus both the boy and the girl are given equal dignity before God. But we cannot make a rule in this matter, because some are able to afford an expensive wedding and reception, while others are not.

It is perfectly in order for a bride’s parents to give money to their daughter. But this is best done by putting the money in a bank account in her name. This is not a rule but only a guideline so that believers can preserve their testimony and not be accused of having received a dowry after the wedding.

There is another equally great evil in India – and that is the way daughters are treated by their parents when it comes to an inheritance. Many parents do not give an equal share of their wealth and assets to their daughters as they do to their sons. If it is evil to give or ask for dowry, it is an equally great evil for a parent not to give their daughters an equal share of their wealth as they give their sons. In God’s eyes, sons and daughters have equal rights to their parents’ assets. Any father who shows partiality to his sons over his daughters is an ungodly father, unfit to be called a Christian. Whether the father writes this in his will to be distributed after his death or whether he gives it to his children earlier is immaterial. But he must treat his daughters exactly like he treats his sons. And a daughter has every right to ask to be treated equally. Jesus taught that it is proper for children to ask their fathers for good gifts (Matthew 7:9-11).

If Jesus were in India today, He would denounce the dowry system ruthlessly. Unfortunately, church-leaders who claim to represent Him, do not denounce this practice – because they love money themselves, or are eager not to offend the rich, or hope to get a commission themselves in the process!

Even a non-Christian film-actor in India has spoken out against dowry recently. Aamir Khan writes:

“I am totally opposed to dowry. It is not only a retrograde practice but also an illegal one. Think about it – can a relationship, built on the foundation of money and greed, be meaningful or beautiful? We should make our daughter so accomplished and independent that she is capable of crafting her own future and becoming the master of her own happiness. Then she won’t need a greedy, useless groom to complete her life. Let her marry a person who respects her. Let her marry a man who she believes is worthy of her; whom she is happy to spend the rest of her life with.” 
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/article3439626.ece]

Such non-Christian film-stars are now putting to shame so-called “Spirit-filled, tongue-speaking” believers, in this matter! Those film-stars will rise up in the day of judgment and condemn all hypocritical believers.

This is one reason why the Lord has placed CFC and related churches (and I hope, some other churches too) as lighthouses in India, to stand for the truth and to proclaim His will in this matter. The Bible commands us to speak up for the rights of the needy (Proverbs 31:8, 9). We must stand totally against this evil dowry system that has destroyed the lives of so many helpless girls in our land. We must also urge all parents to give an equal share of their wealth to their daughters as they give to their sons.

Daniel took a stand for the Lord in Babylon in a very small matter – not eating certain foods that God had forbidden in Leviticus 11. That was a very small commandment – but it was a small commandment given by a great God. Because Daniel honoured God, God honoured him. God is testing us now in little matters, to see whether we qualify to be a voice for Him.

May the Lord preserve us as a prophetic voice for Him in our land.

By Zac Poonen

**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. cfcindia.com / Picture by pexels