Categories
Christianity

5 Warning Signs of Verbal Abuse in Marriage

I was born the only blonde in a house full of brunettes. My older brother knew and spewed all the latest dumb blonde jokes thinking he was super funny even if I was hurt by these” jokes.” I was often the butt of everyones jokes, especially because I had to work harder than others to get above average-grades – which often just proved those blonde jokes correct.

Because this is what I grew up with, this is what became my married life too. I was laughed at and felt stupid when on my grocery list I spelled lettuce and yogurt with an e instead of u. When I talked in ways that were uneducated or couldn’t pronounce a word with more than six letters. Again, I was the butt of the joke, too sensitive, and needed to learn to shut up or how to take a joke.

Now, as an adult, I talk too much, standing up and defending the victims of this world. I dont want to learn how to take a joke when the joke was really at my expense. And I dont think this is how family, the people who say they love you, should treat each other all in the name of a little fun. 

Belittling, name-calling, and condescension became how I expected to be treated. It was my normal when its anything but normal! But through my abuse recovery healing journey, I learned that no person deserves to be treated like this. Verbal abuse is a cycle that repeats for generations unless we do something to stop it from continuing.

What Is Verbal Abuse?

LegalDictionary.net defines verbal abuse as, “The repeated improper and excessive use of language to humiliate someone, or to undermine someones dignity. Also known as verbal bullying’ because it is the act of directing negative statements toward someone, causing emotional harm. Verbal abuse consists of behaviors that are non-physical, but which can still be rather damaging, such as being threatening, insulting, or humiliating toward someone.”

Verbal abuse, a form of emotional abuse, usually is the first tactic an abuser uses to gain power and control in a relationship. It’s a mindset that the abuser is more powerful than anyone else, is entitled to treat others how they want, and will compete for control over other people – most times someone who should be their equal. Abuse can happen in your home, with loved ones, at work, at church, and even with strangers. 

Examples of Verbal Abuse:

To understand what verbal abuse looks like in a relationship, here are five warning signs of verbal abuse and how they may be displayed.

  1. Demeaning comments: Wow, putting on some weight?! Youre always going to be fat if you keep eating those cookies.”
  2. Name-calling: Youre such a stupid idiot!” or “You are a loser, you can’t do anything right!”
  3. Deliberate blame-shifting: I wouldn’t drink so much if you wouldn’t nag so much!” or “I wouldn’t watch porn if you’d have sex more.”
  4. Threatening: If you dont do this, Im going to divorce you, leaving you with nothing. You will never see the kids!”
  5. Discounting/Minimizing: I am not abusing you! You’re crazy. Making things up. You’re too sensitive! Cant you take a joke?”

Doesn’t That Make Everyone Abusive?

We are all guilty of saying unkind things to people, especially our spouse or children, and other people at times of upset and anger. We may have called someone a stupid idiot for pulling out in front of us in traffic, without even realizing what were saying.

The difference between an abuser and a non-abuser is motive. If the motive is to demean, belittle, deliberately cause emotional harm, and/or gain power and control over a partner that is abuse. Again, the abuser has the mindset that he or she is in control of everyone around them, even if they never show signs of anger, and uses abusive or manipulative tactics to keep that control.

Non-abusers aren’t trying to hide anything, are willing to apologize and stop the hurtful behavior especially once they realize they’ve hurt someone else. They may try to rationalize it but they genuinely feel bad for how they’re treating another human being. The abuser, on the other hand, thinks he or she has a right to say these things and others should just put up with it even if it’s hurtful.

What if the Other Person Is Just Joking?

Jokes can be funny without making fun of someone or a certain group of people. The target of the joke shouldn’t be someone with a disability or different gender, race, or religion. When people are joking around everyone should walk away feeling that the conversation was humorous, not demeaning. But if one person is being attacked, while the others are laughing, this is not mere joking. Instead, it’s verbal abuse disguised as jokes for fun.

How Is Verbal Abuse Different from Emotional Abuse?

There is not much difference between verbal abuse and emotional abuse. The goal of the abuser is essentially the same. An abuser launches a verbal attack onto the unsuspecting victim to gain power and control over the victim. Abusers use whatever tactics work to feel the power and control that they seek.

Furthermore, emotional abuse often includes the psychological ways that a person uses their words to manipulate, and brainwash with the use of mental mind games, like gaslighting, crazy-making, and stonewalling to continue the torment. Verbal bullying is usually where an abuser starts to wear down his or her dating or marriage partner. And it can often be passed off as just a joke to which the victim would be told that he or she is too sensitive – which deflects the blame onto the victim. 

The problem is it doesnt usually end there. Most times the abuser escalates his or her tactics to keep the victim entrapped in the relationship. Degradation gets worse over time. The humiliation and verbal attacks become more deliberate and offensive until the abuse is happening more and more often. It often gets to the point that the victim starts to believe everything the abuser is saying and that the victim needs to take the blame for the abuse and protect the abuser from deserved consequences.

How Should We Respond to Verbal Abuse?

The first thing we need to do before ever being verbally bullied by another person is to learn assertive rights and boundaries. We also need to know that we dont deserve this treatment or have to just accept this from another person. 

People often quote Jesus as stating, the only way to handle these abusive situations is to, “Turn the other cheek” (from Matthew 5:39). I disagree with that, sharing not only does God not want us to be doormats and personal punching bags, but He expects us to stand up for ourselves when being threatened.

The first step is to immediately let an abusive person know that you won’t be around him or her if they are going to say such demeaning things or act in harmful ways. Then, you physically separate from that person, as soon as you can, to show that you will assert your boundaries when necessary – these are natural consequences. 

Allowing verbal abuse to continue without asserting your boundaries is like giving someone permission to treat you this way. 

What the Bible Says about How We Are to Respond:

  • “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17 NIV
  • Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” – Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV
  • When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, peoples hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.” – Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV
  • “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

Can I Divorce if My Spouse Refuses to Stop Verbal Abuse?

As a person who writes about abuse and divorce, and coaches abuse victims through their divorce, I often get told that people do not have a right to divorce in cases of abuse – especially if its only verbal. I just kindly disagree. I won’t be abused or abusive to someone else – that’s not in my character.

Furthermore, verbal abuse is most times more harmful than any other form of abuse. And the problem with not allowing a victim to leave an abuser is that the abuse continues and often escalates into other forms of abuse (emotional, physical, financial, and sexual) when the abuser feels he/she can no longer keep the power and control.

Additionally, a victim may unintentionally wish for things to get worse, for their spouse to hit them, or commit adultery so they can morally separate and divorce, to escape the abuser who refuses to stop abusing. Abuse is not a marital problem, it’s an abuser problem. It’s a mindset that doesn’t change with a little marital counseling, especially with someone untrained in identifying abuse. 

How to Stop the Cycle of Abuse

To stop the familiar cycle of abuse, we need to allow victims to escape from it and teach the next generation how to treat others with kindness and respect. Also, the most loving thing you can do for an abuser is to allow them to face all the consequences they have earned by their choices to abuse. Without those consequences, they’re more likely to continue to be abusive.

Jen Grice is a divorce coach and the author of “You Can Survive Divorce”. She empowers Christian women to not only survive their unwanted divorce, caused by abuse, adultery, and/or narcissism, but to become stronger and thrive after. Jen Grice can be found on YouTube, talking about divorcing a narcissist. Or you can find out more about Jen’s books, coaching for women, and ministry at JenGrice.com.

Jen Grice is a divorce mentor and empowerment coach guiding women to surviving and thriving after divorce – caused by abandonment, abuse, and/or adultery. She started Surviving + Thriving Ministries, after her own unwanted divorce in 2013. Now, she writes articles and books, creates videos, and has a “Stronger Woman After Divorce” group coaching program to walk with Christian women who want to heal and thrive after narcissistic abuse. You can find out more information about Jen, her ministry, and her coaching for women, at JenGrice.com.

Categories
Christianity

11 New Worship Songs to Bring You Closer to God

There are few things more powerful than music.

Music makes us laugh.

It makes us cry.

Simply put, music makes us feel things.

I’m guessing that for each of us, there are certain songs that when we hear them bring back very vivid memories—some good, and some bad.

For me, whenever I hear the song that goes, “keep your hands to yourself … I got a little change in my pocket…” I think of my babysitter. She was a high-schooler, and I would have been about 5 years old at the time. She would play that song while she was babysitting me nonstop!

Music is a powerful thing. It moves us. It moves our soul.

Speaking of our soul, music can also bring us closer to God. Especially when it comes to worship music—the melodies and lyrics of worship music have a way of getting God’s truth into our bones.

Singing worship songs has helped carry me through some dark seasons by reminding me that God is always with me. On Sundays, I’ll often listen to worship music on my drive to the church, increasing my passion for God and the expectation for the day ahead. Throughout the week, I’ll sing along to worship music in my house—the volume at full blast. I’m not sure if my kids enjoy this passion of mine as much as I do, but they’re not covering their ears (yet) at the sound of my Mack Brock impression, so I think we’re good!

Looking for some worship songs that will bring you closer to God, and that you’ll actually want to sing along to? Here are 11 worship songs that have opened my heart and strengthened my relationship with God in a whole new way.

1. “Man of Your Word” – Maverick City Music

I can’t get enough of Maverick City in general. They’re a breath of fresh air when it comes to new worship. “Man of Your Word” in particular is amazing! “I know all things are possible … when we believe … and old chains are breakable … when we receive.” Amen to that! God is, above all, a God of His Word, and what He promised will come to pass. Worshipping to “Man of Your Word” will remind you of these awesome promises.

2. “Available” – Elevation Worship featuring Tiffany Hudson

Wanting to be used by God, to open up your life and heart to His plan? Listen and worship to this song! “I hear your call… I am available… I say yes Lord… I am available.” Often we hang onto our lives so tightly, forcing things to work out the way we want them to, not necessarily the way God intends them to. Whenever I find myself trying to control my life and the people around me, worshipping to this song is so helpful. “Use me how you want to God … have your throne within my heart.” P.S. Tiffany Hudson’s voice is incredible!

3. “Graves Into Gardens” – Brandon Lake

Ever been through a season of heartache, pain, or loss? Have you walked through—especially in this last year—a season of grief or disappointment that you never thought would end? This song is full of hope if you’ve been through, or are currently going through, a disappointing or spiritually dry season in your life. “You turn graves into gardens… you turn bones into armies… you turn seas into highways… you’re the only one who can.” I’m not exaggerating when I say those lyrics almost make me cry every time I hear them. There’s so much truth in those words, so much hope—something we can all hold onto right now.

4. “Still In Control” – Jesus Culture featuring Mack Brock

Need a song for 2021, this is it. “My God is still in control… and still he reigns on his throne… though mountains may tremble and sea billows roll… I’ll sing it is well with my soul.” It might be hard to believe with everything that’s going on in the world right now, not to mention our own lives, that our God is still in control, He’s still there, and He’s still all-powerful. Sometimes we need to sing it to believe it. “It Is Well With My Soul” is one of my favorite hymns ever, and this is a pretty awesome way to revamp those still-true-today lyrics.

5. “Famous For” – Tauren Wells featuring Jenn Johnson

This new song from Tauren Wells is above all else a testament to God’s absolute power and control in the world. “Shut the mouth of lions… bring dry bones to life and… do what you are famous for.” We serve a God that is famous for parting the waters, breathing life into people that were dead, and performing miracles around us every single day. “Famous For” reminds me of what I should be aware of every minute of every day—our God was, and is still, famous for literally bringing dead people back to life.

6. “You Are The Lord” – Passion featuring Brett Younker and Naomi Raine

Passion kicked off their annual conference this year with this anthem to who God is and all that He does in our lives. What better way to start off a new year than by declaring this over our lives! “You are the Lord… forever lifted high… you are the Lord… compassionate and kind.” Sometimes we just need to stop and really remember that God is who He says He is. This song does that for me. “There’s no one like you God… there’s none like you.”

7. “What A Savior” – HTB Worship

This is just a fire worship song, pure and simple. We serve such an amazing Savior, at times it’s hard to put words to how awesome God is, but this song does just that. “The grave could not answer… his glorious mercy… as light broke through shadow, creation cried… behold now the Savior.” If you’re looking for a worship song that just reminds you who the God is that we serve, crank this one up!

8. “Holy” – Justin Bieber and Chance the Rapper

For all you hymns-only people, this probably isn’t your idea of a worship song. And while the Biebs and Chance aren’t exactly worship leaders, I still find myself putting the praise hands in the air whenever this comes on the radio. “Holy” is most likely about a relationship between two people (“the way you hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me… feels so holy, holy, holy, holy, holy”), but it also points to the greater relationship we have with God the Father. Human relationships give us a glimpse into God’s great love for us! Yeah, this song reminds me of getting married to my wife— “runnin’ to the altar like a track star”—but it also shows me how amazing the Father’s love for His children really is.

9. “Child of the King” – Fresh Life Worship

God is, above all, a Father to us, and this song reminds us of that truth perfectly. “I only need to trust that you mean what you say… I only need to tell you in me have your way.” Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that God is a loving Father who wants the best for us. We doubt His love when we mess up or drift from Him, but the whole time He’s there, just waiting to welcome us back home. We are children of the King, and that truth changes everything.

10. “Truth Be Told” – Matthew West

This song by Matthew West is vulnerable and honest. “Hey I’m fine but I’m not… I’m broken.” West sings about how we’re all expected to tell everyone—including ourselves—that we’re doing totally fine, even when we’re clearly not. We’re all broken in some way, we’re all going through something, and the sooner we admit that—to ourselves and the people around us—the sooner we can step into healing. God already knows all our brokenness; He’s just waiting for us to come to Him and let Him carry what we were never meant to carry.

11. “Hallelujah For The Cross” – Chris McClarney

This song is a couple of years old now, but it’s still such a good one to worship along with over and over. Chris is one of my favorite worship leaders and an even better dude. Ever felt like you don’t deserve the kindness and mercy God has shown you? I’ve been there. We serve a God who chases after us even in our darkest moments, and this song proclaims that over and over—thanking God for all that He’s done for us on the cross. “Hallelujah, thank you Jesus… I was a prisoner, now I’m not… with your blood you bought my freedom… hallelujah for the cross.”

Photo Credit: Hannah Busing/Unsplash 


Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a multi-site church based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s the author of Talking With God, and Love Has A Name: Learning to Love the Different, the Difficult, and Everyone Else (WaterBrook, available 8/25/20). He also hosts a podcast called The Conversation with Adam Weber. Adam still cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals but no longer drives a Rambler. He’s married to his wife, Becky, and has four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson, & Anderson. He also has seven chickens, two dogs, & three fish, but what he really wants is a sheep. Follow Adam on Instagram (@adamaweber) and Twitter (@adamweber), or find out more at adamweber.com.

Categories
Headline USA Politics

Joe Biden Swore On A Bible That Has Been In His Family For 130 Years | The State

Biden when he was sworn in as president.

Photo:
Saul Loeb / Getty Images

A family story.

Democrat Joe Biden took his oath as the 46th president of the United States on a bible that has belonged to his family for 130 years.

The bible, which has been with the Bidens since 1893, drew attention during the investiture ceremony for its large size.

“The bible has been a relic of the biden family and all the important dates are there, “Biden told comedian Stephen Colbert a few weeks ago. “It has every date of when I was sworn in.”

The president said that he has used the bible in all the ceremonies in which he took the oath during his close to 50 years of political career.

The first time he used it was in 1973, when he swore as United States Senators. On that occasion, he took the oath at the hospital where his sons Beau and Hunter were recovering from the car accident in which his father died. first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi, which was a baby.

Beau Biden, who died in 2015, also used the bible when he was sworn in as a Delaware prosecutor in 2007.

The bible of the century XIX was edited by Douay & Rheims.

Kamala Harris Bibles

Vice President Kamala Harris took her oath on two Bibles. One belongs to her friend Regina Shelton and the other was from Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

“When I raise my right hand and take the oath, I will take with me two heroes who would speak for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted a few days ago.

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Categories
Christianity

6 Major Differences between Christianity and the American Dream

6. Jesus taught that the poor are blessed.


Slide 6 of 6


In the beatitudes (Matthew 5), Jesus shared that the poor are blessed because they often are richer in faith. Yet we rarely associate the word “blessing” with the word “poor.” In fact, the American Dream has taught us to compliment wealth more than character. You rarely hear, “He lost it all, but he’s blessed. He’s standing firm, and his family is standing with him.”


Instead, we say, “Wow. He’s so blessed. He just got a raise.” Or, “You are so blessed to have such a beautiful house.” Perhaps we, as Christians, should use the word “blessed” more thoughtfully.


Can we really reconcile the American Dream with Jesus’ messages? In Matthew 6:24, Jesus clearly states that we cannot serve both God and money. But the American Dream says we can do both—in fact, that we are entitled to both. From every street corner, computer screen, and radio station blares the same theme: You need this to be happy! You need this to succeed! YOU NEED MORE STUFF!


Our possessions hold us captive, and we soon find ourselves enslaved to the worldly desires of security, comfort, and success.


Jesus calls us to discard our idol of the American Dream, to prevent materialism from hindering our pursuit of God. Let’s not allow our stuff to obstruct God’s work.


Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock



Content for this slideshow came from an article which first appeared in Fusion magazine Spring 2013. Used with permission.


Felicia Alvarez, a graduate of Liberty University, lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or on Facebook, she would love to hear from you!

Categories
Christianity

What Are “Signs and Wonders” of the End Times?

Every Christian believes that the Lord Jesus’s return is imminent, meaning the return of the Lord Jesus could happen at any time and any moment. Paul calls this in Titus 2:13, “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Knowing the Lord could come back today causes some to stop what they are doing and only wait for Him. Yet, there is a difference between knowing Jesus could return today and knowing He will return today. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” The timing of the Lord Jesus’ return is something the Lord has not revealed to anyone, so until He calls His own to Himself, they should continue to serve Him faithfully. 

The context of Matthew 24:24 finds itself in a section running from Matthew 24:1-25:46 discussing what is known as the Olivet Discourse, so named because Jesus “sat on the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 24:3) when He spoke these words. The Olivet Discourse is the fifth of Jesus’ five major discourses recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Addressed to his disciples, the Olivet Discourse is intended to give them a prophetic overview of the events to transpire in both the near and distant future. 

What Are “Signs and Wonders”?

Matthew 24:5-8 gives us some important clues for discerning the approach of the end times. An increase in false messiahs, an increase in warfare, and increases in famines, plagues, and natural disasters—these are signs of the end times.

In this passage, though, we are given a warning: we are not to be deceived because these events are only the beginning of birth pains; the end is still to come. The last days are described as “perilous times” because of the increasingly evil character of man and people who actively “oppose the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Photo credit: Unsplash/Austin Chan

How Can We Know Something Is a Sign?

As soon as Jesus returns to Israel’s territory, opposition from Jewish leaders resurfaces (Matthew 16:1 ESV). The Pharisees and Sadducees were rival groups of leaders, so this is an unusual grouping. Here they operate together for two reasons. First, they are the two main groups of the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council (Acts 23:6). Second, they are united by a common opposition to Jesus. They think that the enemy of their enemy is their friend (Luke 23:12).

The leaders’ quest for a sign is misguided. Matthew hints that the request for a sign is insincere. Yet Jesus has already performed an abundance of signs, and they never believed. As soon as possible, Jesus leaves their territory again, to escape them (Matthew 16:4).

But before Jesus departs, he commends the Pharisees and Sadducees for their ability to read the signs of the weather: a red sky in the evening signified good weather; in the morning, a red sky, plus clouds, meant just the opposite. How sad, then, that they could read the weather but could not read the signs of great events taking place in their times (Matthew 16:2–3). As religious leaders, they, above all, should know that God had visited his people, had sent the long-expected Jesus. A wicked generation cannot read the signs. The proof that they cannot interpret the signs is that they immediately ask for a sign after Jesus gives a sign!

Their spiritual blindness keeps them from seeing Jesus. As long as they refuse to see Jesus, they remain blind (Luke 13:34–35). Jesus then compared himself to Jonah (Matt. 16:4). Jonah, you recall, did not perform signs; he was the sign. Thrown overboard into a raging sea, swallowed by a great fish, spat out on dry ground, then preaching to great effect to the Assyrians of Nineveh, the very life of Jonah was the sign. The mere presence of a Jewish prophet in a hostile city was a sign. So too with Jesus. The leaders do not need signs by Jesus; they need to see Jesus. His presence, his life, is God’s greatest sign, then and now.

The Jewish leaders needed to add faith to the words and deeds of Jesus (Heb. 4:2). Then they would see him. So it is to this day. The quest for signs is wise if we are willing to see and to believe. But we must be willing to discern God’s work. We must be willing to hear the voice of God and to understand the signs, the nature, of the times.

Seeing with a Dual Perspective

We must know our times, and we must know the times and their signs. Above all, we must know that Jesus both transcends all times and gave the most important signs of all time. His miracles—his signs—showed his compassion, his generosity, his love for all. In our time, let us be faithful to him personally and let us faithfully strive to convey his truth to our age.

Jesus knew that, “When will the world end?” often leads people into unwise and unhealthy speculation, so immediately he clarified what he was saying. His answer in Luke 21 addresses both the more immediate question of the destruction of the temple and the bigger question of the world’s end. This dual perspective was necessary because what Jesus said about the temple made people think about the final judgment, and Jesus wanted to put both events into their proper perspective. 

Studying Luke 21 is a little bit like wearing bifocals. The destruction of the temple is near at hand. Many of the prophecies in this chapter deal with specific events that happened before and during the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Yet, the end of the world is always in the background, and we continuously need to keep it in our gaze. The destruction of the temple is a portent of the final judgment; it is the beginning of the end. So Jesus extends the discussion from the destruction of the temple to the end of the world. Looking beyond his first coming to his second coming, he uses the messianic and apocalyptic language that the Old Testament prophets used when they talked about the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Here in Luke 21, the immediate historical context is the time leading up to and including Jerusalem’s fall. Thus the commands of Jesus apply most directly to the disciples who lived through those terrible days. However, the backdrop to that historical act of divine judgment is the judgment that is still to come. Therefore, the exhortations in Luke 21 also apply to us now and in the future as we face various trials and tribulations before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

man resting head on praying hands on open bible light streaming above holy spirit

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Javier Art Photography

Should We Be Looking for Signs of the End Times?

The disciples asked Jesus to explain whether we should look for signs or not (Matthew 24:3). We must understand this inquiry correctly. “When will this happen?” means “When will Jerusalem fall and the temple be destroyed?” The disciples thought they were asking one question; the fall of Jerusalem, the coming of Christ, and the end of the age were essentially one event in their minds.

Whatever the disciples intended, Jesus heard and answered two questions, one at a time. The first part of his reply predicts events that will take place in “this generation” (Matthew 24:34), that is, within forty years—the lifetime of the disciples. Jesus’ purpose for this element of his reply is practical. He wants the disciples to be prepared—rather than shocked or alarmed—for the troubles, they will see in their generation. Those troubles are not signs of the end; therefore, the disciples must be ready to “stand firm to the end” in hard times (Matthew 24:13; cf. 24:6, 8).

Jesus begins his reply with a warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you” (24:4). During their days, there will be events that look like the final cataclysm, but there will be no mistake then. When Jesus returns, all the nations will see him, for he will come with angels and trumpets, power and glory.

The disciples do need to watch for signs of the fall of Jerusalem. That sequence will be necessary. We notice that the word “then” starts to appear: Then you will face persecution (24:9). Then many will renounce the faith (24:10). Then, when Jerusalem is attacked, the disciples should “flee to the mountains” (24:16).

In Matthew 24:36, Jesus begins to answer the second question and answers it. “That day” is commonly a technical term, roughly like the term “the Super Bowl” in American football. Similarly, the people of Israel knew “that day” meant the last day, the judgment day (Matt. 7:22; Luke 10:12; 2 Tim. 4:8). “That day” is the last day, the end of the world as we know it.

To interpret Matthew 24 correctly, we must ascertain where Jesus stops answering the first question and starts answering the second. Jesus finishes answering the question about the destruction of the temple at 24:34–36. Jesus’ prophecy of troubles in his generation has all the authority of God and his word. It would be easier for the universe to disintegrate than for Jesus’ prophecy to fail; “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (24:35). 

All that Jesus foretold did occur—at least provisionally—within a generation. The switch to the last day occurs in 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” So then, Jesus promised that certain things would happen in that generation, and they did happen in that generation.

Nonetheless, as often happens with prophecies, some of Jesus’ prophecies point beyond his generation. Prophecy often has a double fulfillment. Jesus’ word was fulfilled in his generation, as he said. He staked his reputation on it, yet there was more to come.

Notice that the disciples ask questions about timing. They want to know, “When will these things be?” They want to know what sign signifies that the end is near. But Jesus does not reply with a when—a set of dates or signs—but with a what and a how. He tells us what sorts of things are coming and how to prepare for them. In that way, he prepares us to stand firm in the storm and to stand ready to meet him when he returns.

Awaiting His Return

In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul is facing his impending execution with joy, knowing that “a crown of righteousness” awaits him in the presence of the Lord. Now he is not referring here to being saved by good works but only by the righteousness of Jesus (Galatians 2:15-16). Once a person has been justified by faith alone, they will do good works that the Lord will reward in the life to come, although such works do not earn anyone a place in the kingdom of heaven. Though every saint-sinner is imperfect, the Lord will reward each Christian a crown for the good works they have done because they have loved the appearing of the Lord Jesus (2 Timothy 4:8). 

Matthew Henry is right, “It is the character of all the saints that they long for the appearing of Jesus Christ: they love his second appearing at the great day; love it, and long for it.” It is very easy to become content with the comforts and material success of love. A love for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus motivates every Christian to do good works that will gain an everlasting reward.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Brendan Church


Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOGInstagram, read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign to receive his newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.


This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!

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Antichrist
Seven Trumpets
New Heaven and New Earth
Who Are the 144,000?

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Christianity

What Is Sleep Divorce and Is it Biblical?

Many married American couples envision their marriage bed as a sacred space. It is a place where you can dependably reconnect at the end of the day.

If it’s not with some conversation, it is just by being snuggled up in the same cozy space as you both drift off to sleep. It’s a place you commit to returning to together no matter how the day went.

For many, leaving the bed to sleep elsewhere can be a sign of anger, separation, and can undermine your feeling of connectivity in your relationship. Sleeping apart from one another can be seen as the first step taken away from one another when your marriage is facing tension.

But sometimes, couples just have to because of their life situations.

Why do we see a growing number of couples opting to sleep in separate beds and sometimes also opting to sleep in separate rooms? According to a 2017 survey from the National Sleep Foundation, almost one in four married couples sleep in separate beds.

Is sleeping in separate spaces a sign of a relational break or just a pragmatic decision for more individual comfort? Let’s explore the potential consequences of this growing trend.

What Is Sleep Divorce?

While the term sleep divorce sounds a little dramatic, the reality is that the term is just referring to a decision some couples make to sleep in separate spaces for the sake of better rest.

While the trend is growing in popularity now, it is not a new idea. As recent as the 1960’s couples sleeping in separate beds or places was fairly common.

Over the past 50 plus years sleeping in the same bed became the norm for married couples but researchers are finding that up to 25% of married couples are choosing different arrangements.

Why Do Couples Choose to Sleep Divorce?

Sleep divorce may be prompted due to a couple’s differering schedule or inability to rest well in the same bed with your spouse.

I know firsthand that there are seasons where separated sleep is necessary due to circumstances outside potential marital conflict.

When we brought each of our babies home there were times when we had to sleep separately in order to facilitate better sleep for each other. I would take the first part of the night with the baby and then sometime in the early hours, my husband would come back upstairs to our room to take the baby downstairs to rest so I had at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

That was a gracious gift as my Momma body could not fully rest with our loud grunting little nuggets right beside me.

Some couples may be in a situation where they work opposite schedules. This can make sleeping at the same time in the same bed impossible.

Many others report factors such as loud snoring, disagreements about lighting, temperature preferences, and other disagreements about comfortable sleeping preferences have led them to opt for separate beds and/or separate rooms.

Couples select to separate at night for a variety of reasons ranging from practical concerns such as opposite schedules; to those who separate because they cannot agree to be in the same space together any longer.

Is Sleep Divorce Biblical?

Sleeping arrangements are mostly a cultural construct and the ways we have chosen to sleep in our homes have changed tremendously over the years due to a necessity or cultural norms of the time.

The Bible doesn’t offer specific instructions on things like where we should sleep when we are married but it does give us a lot of other advice for our marriages that we can draw on to help us navigate these sorts of decisions.

Ephesians 5 outlines many principles that can guide us in our marriages. It advises that we keep away from any sexual immorality, that we show each other love and respect, that we cherish one another, and that we serve each other. Let these be the standards that you judge your decisions by.

All of our decisions should be born of a desire to love one another as Christ would.

That means if sleeping together, even if it means less than stellar sleep, can be important to showing one another love. On the other hand, giving each other the freedom to rest without interruption can be an amazing gift of service and love to your spouse (particularly if you have a newborn).

Let love and open communication guide you and you can’t go wrong.

Before You Decide, Check Your Motives

Is choosing to opt for a so-called “sleep divorce” bad for your marriage?

Honestly, this is a hard question to answer because relationship and family circumstances vary so greatly!

Many couples are making these kinds of choices for purely practical reasons such as taking turns tending to a newborn or working opposite shifts, while for others the decision to separate at night may be a worrisome signal that things are decaying in your relationship. 

Determining the line between “I need to sleep alone for the sake of getting better rest” and “I don’t want to be in the same space as you” can get fuzzy.

When dealing with circumstances that lead to the need to rest separately, clear communication and intentional times of connection have to be even more of a priority because you are missing out on a built-in time of shared space that a common bed allows for. 

Sophie Jacobi-Parisi, a New York attorney at Warshaw Burstein, who practices matrimonial and family law, said that “couples that choose to sleep separately but don’t have a conversation around why they are making the change, it can be another step in the path toward divorce.”

She makes the point that there can be many practical reasons as to why separate sleeping arrangements may be beneficial but if we are not clear in our communication with one another as to why we are making these types of decisions this can be one step closer to separation or divorce.

The bottom line is that the decision to sleep separately is one that should not be taken lightly.

If there is a real need for this arrangement, communication with one another surrounding this decision is very important to make sure that it is not a choice to step away from your commitment to your marriage.

Every step we take away from our spouses, be it physically or emotionally, has the potential for negative long-term consequences. Wisdom invites us to weigh these types of decisions carefully.

How to Keep a Healthy Marriage While Sleeping Separately

If you are in a season of life where it feels impossible or disruptive to each other’s rest to sleep in the same bed there are a few ways to make sure you get through this season well.

1. Identify the sleep issue and determine the best way to remedy it.

For example, if opposite schedules mean you can’t go to bed together, then identify ways you are going to take time to rest together. There is something special about spending time resting together.

While many think best sleep comes alone, there is research that shows that sharing a bed actually leads to better sleep. Potential benefits include falling to sleep faster, lowered blood pressure, a boosted immune system, helps curb anxiety, and even can slow down aging!

If you are trading off dealing with children, one suggestion would be to do this switch during the week but reserve the weekends to still sleep in the same bed together. Another idea is to spend time together in bed catching up and snuggling before separating to your posts to get some rest.

If separating is due to snoring, a health concern, or another issue, make sure you are thorough in discussing how to make sure you both know that the decision to sleep separately is not a decision to live separately.

While it is easy to see the practical need for rest it is important to care and nurture each other’s feelings.

Find ways to express your desire to remain near one another in life even if your circumstances prohibit being together in the night hours.

2. Revisit your sleep arrangements frequently.

No decision like this should be permanent. Just because something works well or is necessary for one season does not mean it is good for all seasons.

Choosing to come back together to the same bed, even if it means lost sleep, is 100% worth it if it is going to bring your marriage closer together again.

We sacrifice sleep for so many other causes: our children, video games, binge-watching TV, and even work. It is reasonable to expect to have to sacrifice some sleep for the sake of your marriage.

Be wary of a temporary season of sleep separation becoming permanent. This could be a sign of a growing disconnect in your relationship.

Once that baby is sleeping then you should return to sleeping in your same bed or at least should be talking about what new arrangement would work best for both of you.

When your situation changes, it is important not to ignore the conversation around sleep arrangements. This can lead to resentment and false assumptions being made by each of you.

3. Be mindful of how your sex life is affected by your sleep arrangements.

One very practical reason to sleep in the same bed is that you are in the same place at the same time alone, giving you the chance to be intimate with one another.

If I just fall asleep on the couch before going to bed, there is a much lower chance I am going to be up for getting intimate with my husband. If you are parents, practically you need the late hours of the night to be able to have the privacy required to have intercourse.

Separate beds or separate rooms can become barriers to having access to one another sexually.

This of course does not have to be the case. If you are mindful of each other’s needs and make it a point to be available to one another at other times of the day or are willing to travel across beds or even rooms to be intimate, then it is possible to keep a thriving sex life under this arrangement.

Nonetheless, we know that a sexless marriage can be one factor that leads to divorce. Keep tabs on if your sleeping arrangement is affecting your sex life is a good way to determine if something is amiss in your relationship.

Loving your spouse well often means sacrifice.

Depending on your circumstances that sacrifice may look like buying ear plugs so you can remain close in the night to your chainsaw snoring spouse. It can also look like giving up your side of the bed so your baby and Momma have a safe space to rest together during those harrowing early months of life.

If we want our marriages to thrive we have to be careful to be taking steps closer to one another, showing each other love and consideration in our every decision.

Let that be your guide on how you navigate rest as you share your lives with one another.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio


Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

Categories
Christianity

Why “You Complete Me” Is a Dangerous Myth in Christian Dating and Marriage

It’s another crazy Tuesday night. Getting the kids to do their chores or homework is like herding cats. My partner in crime is missing as usual. He was supposed to be home two hours ago. Chris stayed after work to finish up a project and I’m finding myself annoyed because I could totally use his help here, at home. After all, he married me, not his job. As he walks in the door, I try not to roll my eyes because I know what he will say next. Grinning, he says, “You complete me.” I can’t help but laugh because it’s our inside joke. He’s my best friend, but he doesn’t complete me. If he did, he would’ve prevented all the chaos and mishaps, right?

22 years of marriage that began with a teenage pregnancy and a shotgun wedding is hardly the stuff soulmates are made of. But when people get to know us, we often hear how we must’ve been star crossed lovers, destined by God to be mates for life.

We all want the Jerry McGuire moment when he says, “You complete me.” But then lights go up, the credits roll, and we find ourselves in the real world surrounded by imperfect people. We compare our significant other to the film, to our friend’s spouses or boyfriends. We scroll through social media and the comparison seems to find no end.

We see perfectly cropped, filtered posts about how so and so’s guy brought her flowers or we see a guy saying he has the best wife in the world because she just ‘gets him.’ But no one talks about the hard work any relationship takes. No one posts about bickering over unmet expectations, the budget talks or hurt feelings. No one wants to post about the fights, the arguments, the late conversations about trust. And no one will ever talk about their secret unrealized dreams, disappointments, or doubts.

We find ourselves living in a fallen world where there is no such thing as a soulmate. I’ll be the first to say my husband isn’t my soulmate, and the church needs to stop preaching it, teaching it, and supporting this ideal. While it may seem like the Bible is responsible for this phenomenon, the word “soulmate” isn’t found anywhere within its pages. Yet, the idea we were made for our soulmates has given individuals permission to bail from the bonds of marriage.

All too often we want to shape our identity, relationships, and marriage to fit our idea of what love is supposed to be instead of the truth. The truth is this, we are matchless. No one on this earth will complete us. No, not even your spouse or future spouse. But finding the one who completes you is a dangerous myth in Christian dating and marriage. There is no prince charming. There is no happily ever after. There is no one who will make you whole.

What Does ‘You Complete Me’ Mean?

‘You complete me.’

This probably sounds like the most romantic thing your partner may have said to you. It definitely feels good when someone tells us that we complete them. It sounds even more romantic than, “I love you.” But if we dig into the phrase a little deeper, it means this person needs you to be a complete person which eventually leads to the conclusion that without you, this person cannot grow. The question here is whether such need-based relationships are fulfilling for a lifetime or not.

Where Did the Phrase ‘You Complete Me’ Originate?

So, where did this idea come from? The soulmate myth originated from pagan philosophy thousands of years ago. It has recently started trending in popular culture and has crept into our church and ideals about marriage.

According to Plato, humans were originally created with two faces, two arms, and four legs. They roamed the earth as a sphere and possessed incredible strength. Humans were so strong that their power became a threat to the divine realm. The Greek deity Zeus took notice and acted upon the threat by slicing humans in half. Humans were then sentenced to spend their mortal days not rivaling the gods but instead, searching for their missing half—their soulmates. At least that’s the story in The Symposium. While Plato is definitely not the best source of insight into our lonely condition, we can look to the One who is Truth (John 14:6). He knows the truth and reveals the truth through his word.

What Does the Bible Say about Two Becoming One?

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’. ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, And the two shall become one flesh’: so that they are no more two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:6-8 and in Genesis 2:24 it says, “…A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

Are we getting a clearer picture yet? Two becoming one does not mean that we were missing our other halves. The Bible shows and teaches the nitty-gritty of marriage: Two stubborn, broken people, united together for a common purpose: to build a home and relationship that reflects God. Two becoming one is less about aligning preferences and more about uniting in purpose. All of this, not in spite of marriage, but because of it. This shows us there is a fine line between becoming one with your mate while maintaining your God-given identity. Becoming one takes effort and persistence.

Mark Groves summarizes what it means to become a unit quite wonderfully:

“While most people seek to be independent in relationships, I seek independent dependence. As in, I want to preserve my wholeness, honor my partner’s need to do the same, and also be able to depend on her. What is the point of a partnership if we can’t turn to the one we love and say, “Today I can’t hold up my world alone, will you help me? It’s healthy to depend on people for support, it’s not healthy to depend on them for our wholeness and happiness. Those are two very different things.”

What Are the Dangers of the Phrase ‘You Complete Me’?

The dangers of looking for someone to complete you could be a codependent relationship. It also means we begin looking at our spouse as our savior instead of the One who did save us. Interestingly enough, Plato and the Bible do have one caveat in common: humans are naturally incomplete. But before you go quoting Jerry McGuire, the solution to completeness is different. Plato says we must find our soulmates to be complete. Scripture says Jesus makes us complete. This is the difference. Humans are flawed and fading. Jesus is infallible, infinite, and faithful.

When churches teach and preach there is a soulmate out there for each of us, we are in danger of idolizing marriage. We begin to put marriage on a pedestal. We elevate it, covet it, and only have rose-colored glasses for married life. We replace Jesus for marriage and send ourselves into the wastelands of our perceived incompleteness. Our belief that true love should be passionate and dramatic causes us to cling to unhealthy relationships that should have been left in the past. We expect our spouse to meet all our needs. We think of love as a matter of chance, not choice. We mistake marriage and our spouse to be our saving grace.

This kind of thinking puts us in danger of becoming unsatisfied in marriage or current relationship. Believing that you are destined to be with someone dramatically changes the way you look at your potential partner and changes the way you handle conflict because every instance begins to feel like a failure. Your marriage will begin to unravel because you’re less likely to work at it. Seeing your marriage as a partnership requires work, effort, commitment, and compromise.

Churches should be teaching against the grain of this mentality. God is the crux of our completeness. And this should be the message for our souls. Our challenge isn’t to let go of the idea of finding a partner to do life with—our challenge is doing life with our partner and God at the center. For more about soulmates and marriage, check out, “If God Doesn’t Make Soulmates, How Do I Know They’re The One?

What Does the Bible Say about Our Identity?’

One of the richest passages about identity found in the Bible in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul addresses the church in Ephesus, explaining the new identity given to a person when they are in Christ.

According to Ephesians 1, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. We have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, unconditionally loved, lavished in grace, and accepted. We are blameless and forgiven. We have received the hope of spending eternity with God. When we are in Christ, these aspects of our identity can never be altered by what we do.

The Bible tells us that our identity is in Christ. “When we become followers and believers in Jesus, we lose our identity in this world and embrace our identity in Christ. Our identity in Christ is being a member of His body, the church.”

You are the son or daughter of the Most High King. We are the sons and daughters who had been redeemed, created new, and awakened spiritually to the Lord. This means we are heirs to God’s Kingdom. As long as we recognize our identity in Christ alone, we won’t get lost seeking the empty things that the phrase, ‘You complete me,’ brings.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio


Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal,  Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books.  Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today’s Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.  

Categories
Christianity

The Secret to Infectious Contentment

When I talk about what it means to have joy and contentment, I am not talking about relying on the power of positive thinking as you live out your life like The Little Engine That Could (“I think I can, I think I can”), or the many programs in books and on television about the power of positive thinking.

I am talking about the power that comes from being content with what God has already given you.

Contentment at Work

When I think about people I know who are so content with Jesus in their life they reflect the joy and love of Jesus in a way that actually infects those around them with their joy, one of those people that always comes to my mind is the Port-O-Let driver (his name is Fred) I worked with in the Undercover Boss show.

I never met Fred before being assigned to him as my boss for the day on the Waste Management Undercover Boss episode, and I worked with him undercover as his helper cleaning out Port-O-Lets all day.

I have to be honest with you, when I heard I was going to have a job cleaning out Port-O-Lets all day, I thought it was going to be a long day I would not enjoy very much. I knew it would be a tough, stinky job! But honestly, that day was one of the most fun days I had of all the different jobs I did for the Undercover Boss show.

And the reason I had so much fun was because of Fred’s positive and fun attitude. He showed how a happy disposition, when you are filled with the love of Jesus Christ, can make even a stinky job fun for you and everyone around you.

I have never laughed so much while doing work. In fact, after eight hours of working with him that day, my face muscles were fatigued from laughing so much that I kept getting cramps in my face. I have never had that happen to me before!

At one point I asked Fred if he was a Christian because I could just tell there was something inside of him giving him all that joy. Fred told me he was a Christian, and he guessed I was too! We hugged each other, said a prayer together, and then just kept on working.

Jesus Christ was clearly evident in his life. Fred taught me how important it is to let that joy and contentment with what you have shine on those around you and what an impact that can have on others. It is so infectious and draws others to you because they want to know the reason for the hope that is within you.

Contentment in Our Culture

Our culture tries to tell us that pursuing everything other than God will bring us contentment. People are searching hopelessly for contentment by pursuing material things or their own selfish desires and pleasures, but they aren’t seeking God.

We can see it all around us—people pouring their lives into their work with a focus on themselves, getting ahead, and making a name for themselves. I am sure everyone can identify someone they know (or maybe even you are that person) that on the outside seems to have achieved much in their career—their position, their status, their home or homes, their car or cars, etc.

Yet, even with all the material possessions they have, deep down the people who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ are not happy. 

I think that is why there is such a huge drug and alcohol problem in the world. People are trying to find contentment with drugs, alcohol, pornography, and material things because they think those things will bring them contentment or comfort or take away their pain.

Those things might provide a brief relief from some of life’s pains and struggles, but they will never find lasting contentment and peace without Jesus in their life and turning control over to God. The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:26 that God made us in His image.

God loves us and He wants a relationship with us. Without God we won’t be content.

Contentment in Adversity

Most of the Scripture about contentment in the New Testament is written by the apostle Paul, who was arrested for teaching that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again.

Paul was beaten, placed in chains, tortured, and eventually died a martyr’s death, but never did anything to deserve it. So if anyone should have had an attitude that life is not fair, it is Paul.

But he placed his faith in Jesus and was content, no matter the situation, because he trusted God.

Paul, while he is in chains in prison, tells us: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11–13).

The last sentence of this verse is usually taken out of context when people quote it. It is really talking about contentment. It is about knowing God will give us what we need. Being content and trusting God through our trials can even reflect God to others.

Paul didn’t draw his strength from having more material possessions than his friends or from worrying about what others thought about him.

Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ brought him contentment. Paul got his strength from God and it was his faith in Christ that gave him the strength to be content–to endure–through all things.

The Source for Contentment

Unfortunately, our sinful nature, along with Satan, are at work every day to try to convince us we are not content. Paul tells us that to overcome our discontentment we must pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

Paul is telling us to focus on our relationship with God, and that will bring us contentment.

So contentment is a spiritual issue, not a money issue or an issue about how many material possessions we have. I think the secret to contentment is understanding God is sovereign and in control. If God doesn’t want something to happen, it won’t happen.

That means God is in control when good things happen in our lives, and God is in control when times are tough for us.

Contentment comes to us when we depend on God rather than ourselves. Contentment can come to us when we give to others in need, not just of our money but of our time.

One of the things God has taught me is that neither my money nor my time is mine. My money and my time are both given to me by God. No matter how much or how little each of us has, it is still more than we deserve because God owes us nothing.

Everything we possess is a gift from God. And God wants us to be a good steward of everything He has given to us.

Another thing I have found that contributes greatly to contentment is telling God how thankful I am for all He has given me. The more I thank God, the more I become aware of what He has done for me and the more content I find myself.

We can even find contentment in difficult times. Maybe God is trying to teach us something through our crises. We can give thanks to God even when times are tough that He is taking an interest in us to teach us something and to draw us closer in our relationship to Him.

I think we all have work to do when it comes to contentment. Next time you find yourself feeling down or that life is unfair, just remember Paul being wrongfully chained in a Roman prison, and yet he was joyous and content.

I doubt any of our lives will be as difficult as Paul’s was in prison. But we can be just as content by placing our focus on Jesus Christ, being thankful for all God has given us, and asking the Holy Spirit to help us grow in our ability to live with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

Ultimately, our contentment comes as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

Larry O’Donnell served many years as president and COO of Waste Management, where he became best known as the first “Undercover Boss” from CBS’ hit reality show. A popular speaker, leadership consultant and ministry leader, he holds a Master’s in Biblical and Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and mentors leaders around the world through his full-time ministry. His new book, Management Waste, from which this piece was adapted, is available now at www.larryodonnell.com.

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Christianity

Mama, Take Heart – Christian Podcast

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About Mama, Take Heart

Parenting in this day and age is not for the faint at heart. That’s why Mama Take Heart is here to help you be the gospel-centered, compassionate, and influential voice in your Gen-Z daughter’s life. In this show, we give listeners the tools they need to love and lead well in their child’s formative years. Host Robrenna Redl is here to help equip and empower you with resources and practical takeaways, whether you’re looking for ways to intentionally connect or to have hard conversations. So don’t fret, Mama. Instead, take heart!

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Christianity

10 Churches You Might Want to Avoid

Churches come in all shapes, sizes, and sometimes even beliefs.

In Revelation 2-3, the Bible gives us some descriptions of a church that might have lost its way. Although, the Bible also mentions positive things that these very same churches were doing, so they weren’t all bad. This is an important idea to remember, because no church is going to be one hundred percent perfect; after all, they are run by humans.

Be wise and be aware, but before you leave any church, take some time to evaluate your own motives. Any problems that you see might be a result of your own perception and not really issues at all. Your inclination to avoid a particular church may be valid, but it could also be your own pride thinking you deserve better. Always check yourself and your motives.

Still, certain characteristics may be a good reason to go elsewhere:

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