Marriage of Two Flawed People

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Marriage Tim Keller

Marriage is the coming together of two flawed people.  To learn how to cultivate a healthy marriage, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614.459.3003.

When You Are In Between Jobs

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jobs anxiety

When You Are In Between Jobs

By Luke Murry

“Job transition.” “In between jobs.” “Unemployed.” Whatever you want to call it, these seasons are almost always characterized by doubt about yourself and anxiety about the future. My trial of unemployment was no different. Ten months before I finished grad school, I received a job offer from my dream employer in Washington, D.C. I was elated—I had been praying for this job for six years, doing all I could to present myself as the best possible candidate. And finally, there it was. A job offer that I could hold in my hands. I felt set for decades to come.

It was also a big relief for my then-girlfriend and me. After dating long distance as we lived on opposite sides of the globe and then the country, we were aching to be in the same city. With the job offer, I knew that not only could we settle in Washington, but that I could support her financially. Within about a month of receiving the offer, I got permission from her father and asked my now-wife to marry me. We set the wedding date for two weeks after my graduation. No more “good nights” over the phone. No more “airport goodbyes.” Everything seemed to be coming together. I felt confident that no matter what else happened in my life, I could be happy.

But I never imagined what would happen next (as I narrate below). Although the following season was a trying time, looking back I am grateful for it. It taught me a number of lessons. Here are 10.

1. Hold your plans loosely, with an open hand—not a closed fist—before the Lord. I didn’t stop praying after I got the conditional job offer. My prayer continued to be, “Not my will by yours be done.” God answered my prayer; just not the way I was hoping. The offer was conditional on passing a polygraph. In God’s providence, the polygraph recorded that I lied, even though I told the truth. So in the midst of finals, two weeks before graduation, and a month before I was to get married, I received notice that the dream job offer was officially revoked. As painful and discouraging as this was, it reminded me that God is God and I am not. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Prov. 19:21).

2. Examine your heart and be honest about your motives. In this fallen world, even our best desires can be tainted by sin. Did I really want to glorify God through my dream job? Sure. But it also happened to have plenty of worldly pleasures to go with it: great pay, a (false) promise of long-term stability, a good amount of power, and plenty of admiration from the world. While I’d like to think I just wanted to glorify God, it’s hard to believe a few of those worldly temptations didn’t seep into my desire to work at my dream job. Praise God that he rescued me from giving into them! If unemployment rids us of even one idol, is not the trial worth it?

3. But that doesn’t necessarily mean sin is at the root of your unemployment. Yes, unemployment may be a result of sin (Gal. 6:7), but like any trial sin is not always the cause (see the entire book of Job). When we go through unemployment ourselves or counsel the unemployed, we should be careful not to assume that sin is the cause for unemployment.

4. Work is a gift from God. After our wedding, I moved back to California so my new wife could finish her grad school degree. As someone trying to find a job in national security, leaving Washington was the last thing I should have done. I continued the job search from afar, targeting organizations that were in my field at first. But soon, as the lack of responses added up, I looked anywhere and everywhere. I applied to be a waiter, a hotel receptionist, and a fast-food worker—anything that would pay the bills. Even here, I fell short. I was either over qualified or not qualified enough. It was a humbling experience. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force an employer to say yes. I was 24 years old with a master’s degree and losing out to high school kids. The Lord would provide in his own timing. My responsibility was simply to be faithful in looking for work and trust God with the rest.

5. Desiring to work is a good thing—despairing over lack of work is not. God created us to work (Gen. 1:27-28, 2:15). Paul reminds the Thessalonians that “if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thes. 3:10) and Timothy that if we can and yet refuse to provide for our family then we are worse than unbelievers (1 Tim. 5:8). I was sorrowful about not having work. That’s normal and even biblical, but if we are despairing at the loss of work, then it should be a red flag that we may be finding our identity in work rather than God. It may seem like an oxymoron, but those struggling to find work can sometimes be the most prone to make an idol out of work. Work is a gift from God, but it will not solve all our problems. It is not our salvation. Telling the difference between godly sorrow and idolatrous despair is tricky, so reach out to mature believers to help you identify in which camp you may fall.

6. Your identity is a child of God, not someone who does ____ for a living. Those I know who have been through the trial of unemployment also seem to understand better than most that their job does not define them. I do not think that is a coincidence. Scripture is full of examples (Job, Abraham, Daniel, David, and so on) of God stripping all else away to expose those in whom and that in which people really trust. Most fundamentally, Christians are children of God (Gal 3:26).

7. Unbelievers are watching you—what kind of witness will you be? In my unemployment, unbelieving family and friends were observing how I handled the trial. Would I be given over to worry or have a confident trust in God?

8. The local church matters. My local church was a place where I could find comfort and hope in the midst of my trial of unemployment. I was not labeled as the “unemployed guy.” Instead, I was regularly reminded of my eternal value in the eyes of the sovereign Lord and the great hope I have in Christ, that one day all trials will end. Are the unemployed automatically viewed by members of your church, even at a subconscious level, as any less valuable or less intelligent or less hard-working? Is the gospel preached every week to remind everyone of our value before the Father and the hope we have in Christ?

9. When the Lord does provide work, even if it is work that we may not be the most passionate about, we should give thanks. Ten months after my dream job disappeared, God gave me a job as a mail guy for a government agency back in Washington. It wasn’t in my field nor was it my dream job, but it was something. All too often, we overemphasize what we do instead of how and for whom we do it. But Scripture could not be clearer: “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24). God calls us to be faithful and work hard, even if it is at a job that we don’t particularly love.

10. God knows us better than we know ourselves. I really thought that the way that God made me, with my skills and abilities, was a great fit for my dream job. I was wrong, but God, who “formed my inward parts” and “knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13), knew this all along. Seven years later, I can now see how he was directing my steps from a mail job to a job today handling terrorism issues for Congress. It is a much better fit than my supposed dream job.

In our day and age, unemployment can be seen as a scarlet letter, but it shouldn’t be. How we handle unemployment ourselves and how we counsel others going through unemployment are both excellent opportunities to bring glory to God’s name.

The Power of Words

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Words carry power.  With words we can build up. With words we can tear down.  

Words reveal the inner condition of our heart.

The following article was written from a Christian perspective, but don’t dismiss the truth principles about the power of words the article reveals if you happen to hold a different faith worldview.

God’s Word and Our Words

By Jeff Robinson

We sat in stunned incredulity at the dinner table as the two words that our 10-year-old son had just uttered hung in the air like that stale fried food smell in a Southern luncheonette. Did my sweet little boy just answer his mother’s inquiry—“Would you like another piece of chicken?”—with the words, “Hell, yes”? My wife confirmed what I hoped had merely been a product of my hereditary hearing loss: yes, he did say that. Gathering myself, I asked the obvious question: “Where did you hear that?” From my son’s demeanor, it was clear that he did not understand the derogatory nature of the phrase: “I don’t remember, but I think it was from a boy on the playground at McDonald’s.” What he said next made my inner Pharisee feel a bit better: “Is that a bad word, daddy? I didn’t think so because hell is in the Bible and you use that word in your sermons.”

Indeed. He had heard me use that word many times in the context of teaching the biblical doctrine it describes. I took the opportunity to teach him about the use of words and their importance because the Bible, itself God’s Word, talks to us about how we talk to others.

Culture of Talkers

We are a talking culture. TV news channels prattle ceaselessly, analyzing the day’s events and issues, many of them mundane. Enough books are published each year to sink Noah’s ark. And we talk. We talk to our spouses, our children, our co-workers, and in our worst moments, we talk to ourselves. The conversation is endless. It has been estimated that the average human being utters between 10,000 and 20,000 words per day. Consider that fact in light of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” If the average person speaks between 10,000 and 20,000 words each day, then we are looking at 10,000 to 20,000 opportunities to sin.

The timeline of history is dotted with seismic words. Adam and Eve, our first parents, spoke in the garden. The serpent spoke. God spoke. Our Lord’s opponents spoke (“Crucify him!”). Think of history outside the Bible. Think of Luther (“Here I stand…”), Lincoln (“Four score and seven years ago…”), MLK (“I have a dream…”), Reagan (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”). Encouraging words. Inspiring words. Revolutionary words. And, thanks to the words “Did God really say?” there are also terrible, destructive words.

In the world after Genesis 3, there is trouble in our talk, so how should we use words? Is it okay to vent? To rage? To “tell it like it is”? To use profanity? In our evangelical sub-culture, these questions sometimes spawn debate, but this much is certain: Words wield incredible power, and the proper/improper deployment of them gets a lot of ink in Scripture. Our God is a speaking God who inspired a book to tell us about himself and our relationship to him. Thus, it is important that we develop a biblical theology of words for the sake of our sanctification, for the sake of the church, for the sake of my son’s vocabulary, for the sake of the glory of God.

Word on Words: Nine Biblical Propositions

Below I offer nine biblical propositions for how to use our words. These statements by no means exhaust the Bible’s teaching on this important topic, but perhaps they may serve as a start.

1. We will give an account to God for every sinful word we speak (Matt. 12:36). “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Every single one of them. That defies imagination. Twenty-thousand words per day for 60, 70, 80 years is staggering. What Jesus said next is more daunting yet.

2. God will use our words to justify or condemn us (Matt. 12:37). “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” We are justified by faith alone, but our talk seems to have some connection to that central doctrine, perhaps revealing whether or not it has truly taken root in our hearts, as Jesus indicates three verses earlier.

3. Our words reveal the condition of our hearts (Matt. 12:34-35). In the context of expounding upon the vital truth “by its fruit shall a tree be known,” Jesus uttered these stunning words: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” This passage helps us with the question of profanity. Yes, I am aware that Paul used off-color language in Phil. 3:8 (“I count everything manure . . .”) to shock the Philippians. But we do not typically use salty language that way. As I have heard Paul Tripp say, the vile things a drunk says were already hidden in his heart. Once the tongue is lubricated by alcohol, the contents of the heart pour out of him. Such is true of us all: what comes out of our mouths originated in the heart. Our words serve as a CAT scan of our hearts.

4. Corrupt talk is the opposite of gospel talk (Eph. 4:29). Paul seems to have such unbridled talk in view: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, so that it might give grace to those who hear.” Thus, we ask: Are our words gospel words? Do they convey grace? Are they consistent with the gospel? Profanity, slander, gossip, quarrelsome words, “zingers” that garner laughs at the expense of another, fail the test of “gospel talk.” Paul seems to be saying the profession of our mouths should reflect our confession of the savior.

5. Foolish words are the opposite of thanksgiving (Eph. 5:4). “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving is the antidote for foolish talk. It stands to reason that a heart grateful for God’s grace will not spew forth crude talk.

6. Our words have the power to destroy another person (Prov. 18:21). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Our tongues can be used as a sword. Our tongues can be used as a salve. In Scripture, words range from “Father, forgive them” to “What is truth?” and from “Did God really say?” to “It is finished!” Words affect both time and eternity.

7. Our words have the power to build up another person (Prov. 18:21). Think of the last time you were downcast or anxious and a fit word from a dear brother or sister in Christ injected a measure of spiritual energy into your walk.

8. The more we talk the more we are prone to sin (Prov. 10:19). I need to hear Solomon’s words every hour on the hour: “When words are many, sin is not lacking. But he who restrains his lips is prudent.” Because the raw materials used to execute my calling are words, both in their written and spoken forms, I must keep this truth unsheathed.

9. It is wise to talk less and listen more (James 1:19-20). Or, as people in the hills of north Georgia where I come from often say, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Indeed. Listening tends to be others-centered. Talking tends to be me-centered due to proposition number eight.

Pray for daily grace in all your talk. And before speaking, ask yourself, Do my words reflect the redemptive nature of the gospel? Do they build up, or do they tear down?

Remember, Paul told us to speak only words that are fit for building up. These are what the writer of Proverbs in 25:11 calls “fit words” that are pleasing to the listener in the same way “apples of gold in settings of silver” are beautiful to the beholder.

God is listening. And so is my son.

Reading Fiction Increases Empathy Abilities

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Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Still Read Fiction

By Gabe Bergado

They tend to be more empathetic toward others. 

Reading EmpathyIt’s not news that reading has countless benefits: Poetry stimulates parts of the brain linked to memory and sparks self-reflection; kids who read the Harry Potter books tend to be better people. But what about people who only read newspapers? Or people who scan Twitter all day? Are those readers’ brains different from literary junkies who peruse the pages of 19th century fictional classics?

Short answer: Yes — reading enhances connectivity in the brain. But readers of fiction? They’re a special breed.

The study: A 2013 Emory University study looked at the brains of fiction readers. Researchers compared the brains of people after they read to the brains of people who didn’t read. The brains of the readers — they read Robert Harris’ Pompeii over a nine-day period at night — showed more activity in certain areas than those who didn’t read.

Specifically, researchers found heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, part of the brain typically associated with understanding language. The researchers also found increased connectivity in the central sulcus of the brain, the primary sensory region, which helps the brain visualize movement. When you visualize yourself scoring a touchdown while playing football, you can actually somewhat feel yourself in the action. A similar process happens when you envision yourself as a character in a book: You can take on the emotions they are feeling.

It may sound hooey hooey, but it’s true: Fiction readers make great friends as they tend to be more aware of others’ emotions.

This is further apparent in a 2013 study that investigated emotional transportation, which is how sensitive people are to others’ feelings. Researchers calculated emotional transportation by having participants express how a story they read affected them emotionally on a five-point scale — for example, how the main character’s success made them feel, and how sorry they felt for the characters.

In the study, empathy was only apparent in the groups of people who read fiction and who were emotionally transported. Meanwhile, those who were not transported demonstrated a decrease in empathy.

Need more proof? Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research focused on the effect of literary fiction, rather than popular fiction, on readers.

For the experiment, participants either read a piece of literary fiction or popular fiction, followed by identifying facial emotions solely through the eyes. Those who read literary fiction scored consistently higher, by about 10%.

“We believe that one critical difference between lit and pop fiction is the extent to which the characters are complex, ambiguous, difficult to get to know, etc. (in other words, human) versus stereotyped, simple,” Castano wrote to Mic.

Literary fiction enhanced participants’ empathy because they had to work harder at fleshing out the characters. The process of trying to understand what those characters are feelings and the motives behind them is the same in our relationships with other people.

As the Guardian reports, Kidd argues that applying the skills we use when reading critically to the real world makes sense because “the same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience.”

The world around is as real as it gets. Might as well indulge in some fiction. Science says it’ll make you better at interacting with people.

Social Worker Snapshot: Marcia Walker, MSW, LISW-S

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Marcia Walker MSW,LISW-S

Professional:

Marcia Walker is a 2003 graduate of Capital University with a Bachelors in Social Work and received her Master’s in Social Work in 2005 from The Ohio State University. Marcia is passionate about encouraging others to live each day with intention and purpose, and strives to create an atmosphere of hope and healing. She has extensive training and experience in the areas of Mental Health, Chemical Dependence, Crisis Intervention and Debriefing. Working since 1998 in Social Services, and since 2009 in Private Practice, she is experienced in advocating for broad client base with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Marcia’s areas of focus are: working with Individuals struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Relationship issues, Trauma, other Mental and Emotional disorders, Substance Abuse, and Spiritual Issues. She also has a strong emphasis on working with Married couples, and those in Ministry.

Marcia has also had the opportunity to work as an Adjunct Professor at Capital University is a sought out Speaker at Women’s conferences and Marriage Seminars in Columbus and abroad, in addition to facilitating and providing Professional Consultation Services to Churches and other Community Organizations.

Personal:

Marcia has been the Director for Calvary Christian Fellowship (CCF) Women’s Department for over 8 years, and is the host of an Annual Women’s Retreat. She and her husband have been happily married since 1992 and are the proud parents of two beautiful children. Marcia enjoys taking long walks and travelling.

To request Marcia to Speak at your next event or for Consultation Services, go to www.livingpurposeinc.com

Labels Only Stick if We Let Them

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Labels Name Not Stick

Labels only stick if we let them.  For information on how to remove your unwanted labels, contact CornerStone Family Services at 614.459.3003.

 

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Original Photo by Leo Reynolds