Category Archives: Personal Struggles

How can I help my teenager deal with abusive dating relationships?

While there are no simple fixes, there are several things parents can do to help their kids deal with abusive relationships. These ideas might help.

Take the time to talk with your teenager about abuse — what it is and how to deal with it. Let them know that they are far too valuable to accept abuse. It is never acceptable for anyone to manhandle or verbally abuse them. Then take the time to help them identify abusive behaviors and patterns to be avoided.

Abusers often try to isolate and control their partners. This is one of the first warning signs that your son or daughter may be in an abusive relationship. If you suspect abuse, lovingly encourage your child to surround themselves with friends and family members — this is a time to press into relationships, not recoil from them. Encourage them to get active in church, volunteer with organizations, and expand their interests.

Don’t accept the excuses your son or daughter makes for their partner’s abusive behavior. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind. Yelling, pushing, possessiveness, insults, and intimidation are signs of control. Remind your child that they have the power to end this relationship now. Everyone deserves to be respected because everyone is precious in the eyes of God.[1]

(Adapted from Live Right Now)

[1] Psalm 139:17–18

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Is it okay to pray for physical healing?

Of course it is! Physical sickness was not a part of God’s original creation. It’s only natural that we call out to our Creator to make us well.

The gospel accounts share numerous examples of Jesus healing people who had all sorts of illnesses and maladies.[1] Like a trailer from a highly anticipated movie, this is one of many ways Jesus gave previews of what it looks like when the power of God’s Kingdom comes to earth.

As we pray for healing today, it’s helpful to keep before us two New Testament passages that show us God will respond with healing or with grace.

On one hand, there is James writing, “Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.” (James 5:13–14)

On the other hand, there is the apostle Paul who asked Jesus to remove what he called a “thorn in my flesh.”[2]

 “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8–9)

 And in his last letter, Paul alludes to a co-worker that he left behind because of illness. “Trophimus I left sick in Miletus,” he writes.3 Sometimes God chooses not to heal His servants immediately.

The New Testament assures us that only when God’s Kingdom is fully implemented in the future will death and sickness and pain be eradicated.4 Until then, it’s good to pray for physical healing. The answer we receive won’t be healing or no healing. It’s healing now or healing later—with the grace to live faithfully and joyfully in anticipation of a full and permanent healing in God’s new heavens and new earth.

[1] Matthew 4:23

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:7

3 2 Timothy 4:20

4 Revelation 21:1-5

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Is poverty the result of sin in my life?

It’s true that bad choices can make us poor.[1] But in a world damaged by everyone’s sin, there are all kinds of reasons for poverty. To view it as a sign of specific sin in our lives is neither helpful nor accurate.

If poverty means there is sin in our lives, why would Paul say this about the churches in Macedonia: “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”[2] Later Paul wrote, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.”[3]

If Jesus was poor, would we dare say that his poverty was a sign of sin in his life? Of course not! Yet Jesus claimed to be homeless. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head,” he said.[4]

Significantly, many passages in the Bible warn against ill-gotten riches. So we might just as easily ask: Is wealth a sign of sin in my life?

The prophet Jeremiah warned, “Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means.”[5] And the book of Proverbs says, “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”[6]

The apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”[7] Yet he too warned against the dangers of wealth. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth,” he said.[8] Then he warned, “People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”[9]

Jesus said, “Don’t store your treasures here on earth.” Instead, he urged, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”[10]

It’s dangerous and unfair to generalize, especially when making assumptions about rich or poor people — including ourselves. Material wealth (or the lack of it) is a poor indicator of whether we are following God’s ways. God is building his kingdom with people from across the economic spectrum. What matters most is how we use what he has given us.

[1]. Proverbs 10:4

[2]. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2

[3]. 2 Corinthians 8:9

[4]. Matthew 8:20

[5]. Jeremiah 17:11

[6]. Proverbs 11:18

[7]. Philippians 4:12

[8]. 1Timothy 6:6

[9]. 1 Timothy 6:9-10

[10]. Matthew 6:19-21

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Why do women stay with abusive men?

The reasons women stay in abusive relationships are varied and complicated. If we are going help those who suffer in domestic abuse situations, we must first recognize that these women need someone who will listen to their story, not re-victimize them with questions and innuendos. Sometimes we do more harm than good when we say things like:

  • Why doesn’t she just leave?
  • Why would anybody in their right mind stay with him?
  • She must like the abuse; she keeps going back!

A woman who is being abused may leave several times in her mind and actually attempt to move out more than five times before she is finally successful. Often it is dangerous for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, but there are also many other reasons that she doesn’t just walk or run away.

Sometimes women stay because they are afraid. They fear:

  • Greater physical danger to herself and her children if she tries to leave.
  • Being hunted down and suffering a worse beating than before.
  • Negative responses or lack of understanding from family, friends, police, ministers, counselors, courts, etc.

Sometimes women stay because they do not have the resources to leave. They do not have:

  • Employment or a source of income.
  • Knowledge of shelters, advocacy groups, or support.
  • Spiritual strength, wisdom, discernment, or a loving community.

Sometimes women stay because they believe things will get better if they just try harder. They think:

  • “I need to keep the family together no matter what. Kids need a father.”
  • “I swore to stay married till death do us part. I promised to stay with him in sickness and in health, for better or worse. I can’t just leave him because he has a problem.”
  • “I can help him get better if we stay. No one understands him like I do.”
  • “It’s really not that bad. Other people have it worse.”
  • “I am the cause of the violence and it’s all my fault.” She may feel as though she deserves the abuse.

And sometimes she stays, as strange as it sounds, because she loves her abuser.

  • Often the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive.
  • He really does make her feel good and he knows what she likes.
  • She remembers what he used to be like, especially during the makeup phase.

(Adapted from Dr. Sabrina Black’s book, Live Right Now).

Additional Resources:

Discovery House Publishers, When Love Hurts (DVD)

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How Can We Love our Neighbor as Our Self, as Jesus Commanded?

Loving other people as oneself is a difficult goal. But Jesus clearly made it fundamental to Christian living. On one occasion, an expert in the Jewish law challenged Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Luke 10:27 NKJV).

Although the goal of loving one’s neighbor as oneself is difficult, it isn’t impossible.  In Luke 6:36-38, Jesus gives some basic principles that help us understand what it involves:

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (NKJV).

This passage contains two principles. One principle is that our expectations of our neighbors are directly related to the expectations that will be placed on us. As Jesus said, “With the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” The expectations we have of others will be required by them (and God) of us. But even subjectively, we already love—or hate—our neighbors as ourselves. We subconsciously project our own attitudes and values upon other people, expecting them to perceive us as we perceive them. If we are impatient and judgmental towards others, we assume others will be impatient and judgmental towards us. If we are compassionate and patient towards others, we won’t have to deal with the pressures that come from assuming that others view us with hostility and impatience. Love or hatred directed outwards is always matched by love or hatred directed inwards.

The second principle is that love for one’s neighbor should never be confused with indulgence. A father who gives his children anything they want spoils them. If we love our neighbor as our self, we must be as careful in setting standards and goals for him as we do for ourselves. If God were a genie in a lamp who gave us anything we wanted, would we ever be satisfied? Of course not! Love for our neighbor involves the same principle. While love always seeks to promote the other person’s well-being, at times it is manifested in acts of charity and at other times in firm confrontation.

Our neighbor is just like us. At times he needs mercy, at times he needs correction, but he always needs our love.

 

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