Summer heat time is not when you want your car air conditioner to go out on you - especially when you're driving a long trip. Tough - that's when the a.c. decided to die on us. Now I know that brave people survived without air conditioning for centuries. You know, somehow that philosophical observation didn't make me feel any better as we sped along with our windows open and hot air slowly putting the driver to sleep. Oh, but there's more. More than once, belching black exhaust smoke came blowing in our open windows. Then there was the discarded cigarette butt that bounced off the window, narrowly missing the driver. We really enjoyed the spider that came in, and of course, and the clumps of pollen; they were great. Probably our favorite thing of all was what came flying at us from two tractor trailers that passed us. Now, I'm not going to give you all the gory details but I will tell you that those trucks were carrying cattle. Open window: kind of a nasty trip.
It's amazing what can get in when you leave the window open - stuff you really don't want inside. But that could be exactly what's happening in your life right now; a lot of nasty stuff is coming in because you've left the window open.
That's one reason God gives us some very practical advice to avoid getting stuff you don't really want in your life. It's brief, it's to the point, and it's our word for today from the Word of God. Ephesians 4:27 says, "Do not give the devil a foothold." Or we might say, don't leave any window open that the devil could use to get in.
The context of this actually warning provides us with some specific examples of how that can happen. The verse before the "no foothold" verse talks about anger that you allow to last more than a day. Smoldering anger morphs into more anger, then into resentment and hard feelings, and ultimately into a damaging broken and hostile relationship. All because you didn't close the window before the devil blew in all his anger junk. Whatever the issue is, get over it - fast!
The verses after this "keep the devil out" warning talk about not stealing. It's true that anytime you cheat or take what isn't yours to have, you might as well say, "Devil, come on in and mess up my life." Then the next verses talk about unkind words - which leave wounds that can become something very ugly and divisive. That's the little seed the devil needs to grow some major hurt and destruction. Oh, and bitterness is mentioned here, too. Maybe you've let bitterness and hard feelings set up shop in your heart. You've opened the window to something that will turn you hard, poison innocent people, and it will make you its slave. And forgiving is the only way to get rid of bitterness poison. Then close the window and don't let any of those kinds of feelings get inside again.
Unresolved conflicts, a wandering eye, playing with temptation that you should be avoiding like the plague, letting your passions push you to the moral edge, watching and listening to stuff that opens your heart to things you think you'll never do - those are open windows. Windows that you can't afford to leave open one more day.
For an open window is all that the enemy of your soul needs to corrupt your life and to ultimately control your life. So think about "Where's he been getting in?" It's much easier to close the window than to deal with the mess he will make of everything that you care about. Ron Hutchcraft
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"For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms 'marriage' and 'family.'" So states author Andreas J. Kostenberger who, with the assistance of David W. Jones has written God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation.
This sense of crisis and the need for definition sets the stage for this book and its central thesis--that the only way out of our present cultural confusion is a return to a biblical vision of marriage and family.
As Kostenberger observes, "What until now has been considered a 'normal' family, made up of a father, a mother, and a number of children, has in recent years increasingly begun to be viewed as one among several options, which can no longer claim to be the only or even superior form of ordering human relationships. The Judeo-Christian view of marriage and the family with its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures has to a certain extent been replaced with a set of values that prizes human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual and societal level. It can rightly be said that marriage and the family are institutions under seize in our world today, and that with marriage and the family, our very civilization is in crisis."
In one sense, the statistics tell the story. The great social transformation of the last two hundred years has led to an erosion of the family and the franchising of its responsibilities. The authority of the family, especially that of the parents, has been compromised through the intrusion of state authorities, cultural influences, and social pressure. Furthermore, the loss of a biblical understanding of marriage and family has led to a general weakening of the institution, even among those who would identify themselves as believing Christians.
At the cultural level, Kostenberger suggests that the rise of a libertarian ideology explains the elevation of human freedom and a right to self-determination above all other principles and values. The quest for autonomy becomes the central purpose of human life, and any imposition of structure, accountability, boundaries, or restriction is dismissed as repressive and backward.
Within the Christian church, Kostenberger discerns what he identifies as a "lack of commitment to seriously engage the Bible as a whole." As he correctly observes, evangelical Christianity has no shortage of Bible studies, media production, parachurch ministries, and the like. Yet, most Christians are woefully unaware of the deep biblical, theological, and spiritual foundations for marriage and the family that are central to the Christian tradition.
"Anyone stepping into a Christian or general bookstore will soon discover that while there is a plethora of books available on individual topics, such as marriage, singleness, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality, there is very little material that explores on a deeper, more thoroughgoing level the entire fabric of God's purposes for human relationships," he observes. To fill this void, Kostenberger and Jones, along with Mark Liederbach, who contributed sections on contraception and reproductive technologies, attempt to offer an integrative approach that would establish a biblical theology of marriage and family. The primary focus of Scripture, they assert, is "the provision of salvation by God in and through Jesus Christ." Nevertheless, the Bible also addresses an entire spectrum of issues related to marriage and the family--extended to issues such as human sexuality, gender, reproduction, parenthood, and more.
Kostenberger and his co-authors begin their consideration of marriage and family in the book of Genesis, establishing the starting point for these considerations in the doctrine of creation. Throughout the volume, a complementarian understanding of the relationship between men and women is affirmed, and the man and the woman, both created in the image of God, are assigned different responsibilities and roles.
Early in the book, Kostenberger makes an audacious claim: "Our sex does not merely determine the form of our sex organs but is an integral part of our entire being." This flies in the face of the postmodern claim that gender--indeed the very notions of male and female--are nothing more than the product of social construction and ideology. This complementarian arrangement is correctly grounded before the Fall and its consequences.
Yet, Kostenberger gives careful attention to the effect of the Fall and the consequences that follow. Thus, sin and its effects becomes the explanatory principle for all confusion over gender, sexuality, marriage, and the integrity of the family.
In successive chapters, the book moves through a series of special topics, surveying the biblical material and presenting a systematic exposition of the Bible's teachings. The authors balance considerations from both testaments and deal honestly with the biblical narratives concerning biblical characters. Thus, the Patriarchs become examples of faithfulness, even as their own sin and misadventures in marriage and parenting are candidly observed. The authors use a very helpful outline format in setting out the various scriptural passages and their importance to each question. In this sense, they succeed in presenting an integrative model, pulling from a comprehensive reading of the biblical text.
For example, marriage and the roles of both husbands and wives is grounded in Genesis and then traced through the entire Old Testament. Husbands are to love and cherish their wives, to bear primary responsibility for the marriage union and to exercise authority over the family, and to provide the family with necessities for life. The wife, on the other hand, is to present her husband with children, manage her household with integrity, and provide her husband with companionship. Contemporary readers may be shocked by the candor of Kostenberger's presentation, but he grounds his arguments directly in the biblical text. Thus, readers are offered the opportunity to read the critical passages for themselves, and then to understand how Kostenberger framed his argument.
In an interesting section, Kostenberger acknowledges that, within six generations of Adam, the biblical vision of monogamy was at least occasionally compromised by the practice of polygamy. As Kostenberger observes, "While it is evident, then, that some very important individuals (both reportedly godly and ungodly) in the history of Israel engaged in polygamy, the Old Testament clearly communicates that the practice of having multiple wives was a departure from God's plan for marriage." Further, the Bible is clear that individuals in the history of Israel who abandoned God's design of monogamy and participated in polygamy did so contrary to the Creator's plan and ultimately to their own detriment. The sin and disorder produced by polygamy, then, is further testimony to the goodness of God's monogamous design of marriage as first revealed in the marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden."
In light of contemporary confusions, this is a most helpful and accurate clarification. Similarly, Kostenberger deals honestly with the Bible's teachings concerning deviant sexual practices, ranging from homosexuality and adultery to incest.
In another helpful section, Kostenberger differentiates between "traditional" and "biblical" visions of marriage. The traditional vision is deeply rooted in middle-class experience in America. The biblical vision is not dependent upon this traditional model.
Considering the nature of marriage, Kostenberger dismisses the notion of marriage as a sacrament or as a mere contract. Instead, he argues that marriage is rightly understood as a covenant, defined as "a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly entered into before God (whether or not this is acknowledged by the married couple), normally consummated by sexual intercourse." Thus, marriage is not merely a bilateral contract, but is a sacred bond. Moving from marriage to the larger family context, Kostenberger suggests that a biblical definition of family points to the structure constituted by "primarily, one man and one woman united in matrimony (barring death of a spouse) plus (normally) natural or adopted children and, secondarily, any other persons related by blood." Citing Old Testament scholar Daniel Block, Kostenberger identifies the family in ancient Israel as patrilineal, patrilocal, and patriarchal. As Block helpfully suggests, the Old Testament family might best be described as "patricentric." In other words, the family is centered around the father.
In the New Testament, the structures of marriage and family are explicitly affirmed, even as the church is identified as the new family of faith. Nevertheless, the emergence of the church does not eliminate marriage, family, or the bonds and responsibilities established in Creation.
In a helpful section originally contributed by Mark Liederbach, the authors survey questions related to procreation, contraception, and the use of advanced reproductive technologies. The authors write with sensitivity, but also warn against a superficial embrace of contemporary technologies as without moral and theological complication. Readers are advised to look carefully at the nature of reproductive technologies, as well as contraceptive choices, in order to evaluate such options in light of biblical principles and mandates.
Kostenberger also presents a wealth of material related to the structure of the family, parenthood, and the care and discipline of children. He deals honestly with the need for parental correction and discipline, and affirms the role of corporal punishment in the raising of the young. "Of course children will disobey--they are sinners!," Kostenberger observes. "Parents rather should be expecting their children to sin, even after they have come to faith in Christ. Such an expectation is realistic and enables the parent to deal with each infraction calmly and deliberately, administering discipline with fairness, justice, and consistency."
The authors also provide a very helpful consideration of the biblical material concerning homosexuality. "The biblical verdict on homosexuality is consistent," Kostenberger argues. "From the Pentateuch to the book of Revelation, from Jesus to Paul, from Romans to the Pastorals, Scripture with one voice affirms that homosexuality is sin and a moral offense to God. The contemporary church corporately, and biblical Christians individually, must bear witness to the unanimous testimony of Scripture unequivocally and fearlessly." In later chapters, Kostenberger deals with questions related to divorce and remarriage and to the roles and responsibilities of men and women within the church. Even those who disagree with this understanding of divorce and remarriage will appreciate his careful consideration.
Against the backdrop of civilizational crisis, Kostenberger concludes by arguing that this crisis is "symptomatic of an underlying spiritual crisis that gnaws at the foundations of our once-shared societal values." Further, "In this spiritual cosmic conflict, Satan and his minions actively opposed the Creator's design for marriage and the family and seek to distort God's image as it is reflected in God-honoring Christian marriages and families."
Thus, recovery of a biblical understanding of marriage and family is itself a witness to the gospel and to the grace and mercy of God in giving humanity these good gifts for His good pleasure. Kostenberger and his coauthors are to be congratulated on a volume that takes the biblical text seriously and seeks to apply Scripture to contemporary questions in a way that is neither arbitrary nor piecemeal. Their integrative approach will assist Christians to think through the most important issues of our day and, more importantly, lead their families to show the glory of God in the midst of a fallen world. This book should be welcomed and widely read.
I pulled into a crowded parking lot and rolled down the car windows to make sure my Labrador Retriever had fresh air. She was stretched out on the back seat, and I wanted to impress upon her that she must remain there. I walked to the curb backward, pointing my finger at the car and saying emphatically, "Now you stay. Do you hear me? Stay!"
The driver of a nearby car gave me a startled look. "I don't know about you, lady," he said incredulously. "But I usually just put my car in park."
UNC student on the phone to Technical Support: "My files are gone! The hard drive crashed! What should I do!"
Technical Support: "Did you back up?"
UNC student sincerely alarmed: "Why? Is my computer going to blow up?"
Notice: If you see a UNC student or a liberal reading 'Thought & Humor', please explain to them which is thought & which is humor. They always get it backwards.......
At a party, a woman walked up to Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. president (1923 to 1929) and said, "My husband bet me I couldn't get three words out of you."
Coolidge replied, "You lose."
AMERICA ARCHIVED http://www.archives.gov/ This government site offers access to historic documents. View the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
A UNC student enters a store that sells curtains. She tells the salesman, "I would like to buy a pink curtain that is the size of my computer screen."
The surprised salesman replies, "But, madam, computers do not have curtains."
And the UNC student said, "Hellooooo. . .I've got Windows!!!!"
(Thanks to Bill Reynolds in Florida)
A Chapel Hill radio announcer was introducing a record, "The next one is for Charlotte Burke, who is a hundred and eleven. Hey, Charlotte, that's a ripe old age, isn't it?"
There was a short pause and then the DJ said, "I'm sorry, I got it wrong. This next one is for Charlotte Burke, who is ill."
Did you know that:
1. Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire bible? 2. Psalm 117, before Psalm 118 is the shortest chapter in the bible? 3. Psalm 119, after Psalm 118 is the longest chapter in the bible? 4. The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118? 5. If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters. 6. 1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire bible? 7. Should the central verse not have an important message?
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." Psalm 118:8