Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Book of Proverbs’

Does Fatherlessness Produce Faithless Atheists?.


 

father and son
A Catholic psychologist says absentee fathers can damage ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father. (Sara K/Flickr/Creative Commons)

A once-popular book that links atheism with shoddy fathering is getting a second life with a new publisher, thanks, in part, to the rise of nonbelief in the United States.

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheismby Catholic psychologist Paul C.Vitz posits that “intense atheists” throughout history—Nietzsche, Voltaire and Madalyn Murray O’Hair—had absent or rotten fathers. This, he argues, damaged their ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father.

Vitz also holds that many notable believers—Renaissance man Blaise Pascal, anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others—had great relationships with their dads, and were therefore more able to build relationships with God.

“We need to understand atheism has a lot to do with our emotional attitudes towards life, other people and a lot of other things,” Vitz said from his office at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a Catholic graduate school in Arlington, Va. “I think that is an important thing for atheists and believers alike to take into consideration.”

And consider it they have. When the book first appeared in 1999, it polarized critics. The religious media loved it. New Oxford Review, a Catholic publication, described it as “an engaging analysis of psychological factors in religious belief and disbelief.”

But the atheist and humanist media did not swoon. Skeptic magazine panned it as “insulting to those of us who came to a point of non-belief as the result of careful study and consideration.”

Still, the book struck a chord, especially among Christian groups who saw the collapse of the traditional family as a threat to their beliefs. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based Christian ministry, used Vitz’s findings to promote its outreach to fathers, and he was cited by a host of Christian psychologists and scholars.

So why revise the book?

A lot has changed since 1999. For one, the first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of the so-called “New Atheists”—outspoken critics of religion such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, whom many contemporary atheists credit for swelling the ranks of nonbelievers.

And their ranks have swelled. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are atheists and agnostics has grown from 3.7 percent to 5.7 percent from 2007 to 2012, and the overall number of those who say they have no religion has grown from 11.6 to just under 14 percent in the same time period.

“The rise of militant, evangelical, fundamentalist atheism in our time adds to the pertinence of this book,” said Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, the Catholic publishing house that has reissued the book.

“Some atheists try to equate atheism with rationality. Vitz’s book shows that atheism, like many belief systems, has significant irrational elements.”

Vitz said he wanted to revise the book not only to include the New Atheists, whose family relationships he scrutinizes (Dawkins was sexually molested by a clergyman, a subject he has discussed before), but also because there was new research about atheists and attachment theory (generally, they didn’t get much of it) and atheists and autism (many autistic people are also atheists, the book claims).

As he did in the first edition, Vitz makes an important point—the book does not try to prove or disprove the existence of God. Rather, its goal is to examine some of the “irrational” underlying reasons some people become atheists.

“I am certainly not predicting that every atheist is the result of one hypothesis, much less mine,” he said. “I am just saying there is a tendency for more things to go together than you’d expect normally,” like atheism and a poor relationship with one’s father.

The reaction to the book, again, has been polarizing. Christians love it—Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, a Protestant school, praised it as “one of the most profound books in the empirical psychology of religion.”

But atheists are less enthusiastic. “I have a spectacular relationship with my father and consider him to be the most admirable man I’ve ever known,” wrote JT Eberhard, an atheist blogger for Patheos. Many of the comments on his review are unprintable.

Vitz, a Catholic who identified as an atheist in his youth, acknowledges there are exceptions to his theory. He identifies a big one in his book—Sam Harris, a New Atheist who hit the best-seller list withThe End of Faith, has an apparently healthy relationship with his father, too.

“The best answer I have to explain that is I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t studied them (the exceptions) enough.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

KIMBERLY WINSTON/RNS


Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Prophetic Word for 2014: The Righteous Will Never Be Shaken.


 

oak stree
The righteous will never be shaken. (Stock.xchng)

For many years I’ve heard prophecies proclaiming, “Whatever can be shaken will be shaken.” Indeed, I’m sure I’ve prophesied along those lines in years past. These types of prophecies are in line with Hebrews 12:27, which promises “the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

To be sure, the shaking is underway. There have been more earthquakes, famines, wars and volcanoes in the first 13 years of this century than the entire 20th century. At the same time, we’ve seen economic collapses, rising turmoil in the Middle East, the redefinition of marriage in a growing number of U.S. states and foreign nations, and a decline in church attendance. Clearly, the shaking is intensifying, just as many have prophesied.

A Mighty Promise From God

But there is yet good news. The Lord spoke these words to my heart, “The righteous will never be shaken.” This is in line with a mighty promise in Psalm 112 (NKJV):

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.

“Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.

“Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

“He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved;

He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish.”

You Are the Righteousness of God

This promise is for you, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Now, this is your legal position. Your living condition may not line up with your legal position. In other words, you may not fear the Lord or delight greatly in His commandments as you should. You may need to come up higher in trusting the Lord to battle the fearful imaginations that come against your mind. You may not be giving to the poor—or giving at all. You may need to cooperate a little more with the grace of God so that your living condition matches your legal position.

I beseech you by the mercies of God to come up higher this year. Yes, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. But we still live in these fleshly tents. God wants to change us from glory to glory to reflect the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Press into the gospel, “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17). As you pursue gospel truths, you’ll receive revelation of God’s righteousness in you that will spark faith to walk in His Word.

Vows to the Consistently Righteous

In the days and years ahead, you’ll want to tap into the promises to the righteous. The New King James version of Proverbs alone mentions the “righteous”—what the Amplified calls the “consistently righteous”— or “righteousness” 75 times. The righteous are promised:

Sound wisdom (Prov. 2:7)

God as their buckler Prov. 2:8)

His secret (Prov. 3:32)

Deliverance from death (Prov. 10:2)

Avoiding famines (Prov. 10:3)

Granted desires (Prov. 10:24)

Gladness (Prov. 10:28)

Immovability (Prov. 10:30)

Direction (Prov. 11:5)

Deliverance for family (Prov. 11:21)

Flourishing (Prov. 11:28)

Recompense in the earth (Prov. 11:31)

Right thoughts (Prov. 12:5)

Excellence (Prov. 12:26)

Life (Prov. 12:28)

Favor (Prov. 14:9)

Hope in death (Prov. 14:34)

Treasure (Prov. 15:6)

Heard prayers (Prov. 15:29)

Safety (Prov. 18:10)

Honor (Prov. 21:21)

Boldness (Prov. 28:1)

Rejoicing (Prov. 29:6)

Yes, there is a shaking going on. But the Lord wants you to know this: “The righteous will never be shaken.” Those things you put your trust in apart from God—people, money, positions, or something else—may be shaken but God won’t be shaken and you won’t be shaken if your rely completely on Him. So ask the Holy Spirit if your living condition lacks His righteousness in any way, and then work with His grace to pursue righteousness. Jesus put it this way: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33-34). Amen.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet. You can email Jennifer at jennifer.leclaire@charismamedia.com or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Small Changes with Big Results Next Year.


There is something about goal setting that gets me fired up and excited. Maybe it’s the prospect of doing something awesome in the upcoming year, like running a marathon, or reading through the entire Bible, or finally writing that book I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe it’s the prospect of finally kicking those bad habits I have, like getting up too late, or regularly eating things that will probably shorten my life in the long run. I like to set big goals that will challenge me.

But in the last couple of years I’ve started to notice something about myself: Small goals coupled with faithfulness produce the biggest results.

One example: I don’t think I’ll ever run a marathon. I would like to, but I’ve got a bad knee and I don’t have the time required to train for a marathon. But, with God’s help, I can discipline myself to run for 20-25 minutes a couple of times per week. Another example: I have a hard time reading through the entire Bible in a year. I’ve done it, but it doesn’t work particularly well for me and my personality. But I can read the Bible and pray for 35-45 minutes most days before my day gets going.

One last example: I don’t have hours and hours to spend working on a book or a song or any other creative project. But I can find 20-30 minutes a couple of times a week.

I’ve started to see that seeking to be faithful in these little areas has wonderful long term results. The more I run, the better I feel. The more consistently I read my Bible, the more I grow in my walk with God.

The more I work on writing, the better I become. I’ve got two small children with one on the way, and I’m a pastor at a church. I don’t have huge amounts of time to dedicate to things. But I can be faithful, and God honors faithfulness, even to little things.

In Luke 16:10 Jesus said:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

In Proverbs 13:4 it says:

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Over and over scripture emphasizes the value of diligence. God rewards diligence and faithfulness and hard work. We probably won’t see the results immediately, but over time we will. It’s like building a house. When you lay the first bricks, it doesn’t look anything like a house. But as you slowly and methodically work toward your goal, things begin to take shape.

So let me give you a few steps to take:

  • Determine one or two small goals that, if you regularly did them, it would make a big difference. Maybe it’s as simple as reading your Bible and praying for fifteen minutes every day, or trying to memorize one scripture per month, or write one worship song in the next three months.
  • Commit those goals to the Lord. Pray about them and ask God to help you be faithful, and to do these things for God’s glory, not your own. Ask God for the grace to be diligent, even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Let someone else know about your goals. It’s helpful to have someone else supporting you and praying for you and maybe even pursuing the goals with you. If you’re married, let your spouse know. If you’re not married, let a close friend know.
  • Try to find a regular time for working on your goals. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning, maybe it’s right before bed, maybe it’s on your lunch break. Have a set time and stick to it.
  • If you have a bad day or week or month, don’t beat yourself up. Delight in the gospel, delight in the free forgiveness we have in Christ, then get off your butt and get moving again.
  • Give thanks to God for the little successes.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What little goals will you pursue this year?.

Stephen Altrogge

Hope for a Second Marriage: Lessons for the Marital ‘Tweener’.


God indeed blesses second marriages.

God indeed blesses second marriages. (Ambro/Free Digital Photos)

We’re big fans of marriage, even second marriages. Why? Although God despises divorce, He loves family and is more concerned about our character.

He uses tests, trials and, yes, even divorce. Why? It’s because He likes to redeem life from death.

If you’re married, keep it that way. Love your spouse like Christ loved the church, sacrificing everything for her. However, should the divorce bug bite, there is still hope for a second go around.

If you’re single, keep it that way until you are ready. When is that? Hopefully soon. But keep reading; you have something to gain from this lesson as well.

Although the statistics are discouraging for second marriages—and even worse for third marriages—marital bliss is possible if done God’s way. The time before or between marriages can provide opportunity to rediscover yourself, heal from the past and prepare for your true love of your life.

For divorced God’s men—or “marital ‘tweeners”—I want to encourage you to use this time wisely and prepare for the next phase in life, because if you remarry, you are in for an even wilder ride than the first.

So, why are second marriage statistics so discouraging? Because too often guys rebound, towing their character issues right into the next relationship. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you repeat the problem, and when you hit the first iceberg, you sink like the Titanic. Unfortunately, most men fear facing themselves in a mirror, admitting mistakes and growing in maturity as godly men. Pride gets in the way.

In Proverbs 16:18, the Bible succinctly explains the danger of pride: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Here are some practical steps to prepare marital ‘tweeners for marriage rebirth, as well as single men who desire to be yoked.

1. Focus on Jesus. He is your friend and He promises to never stop loving you or leave you. The more you grow close to God, the greater man you will be. Besides, women are attracted to godly men who are solid as a rock. If you’re not already in a small group, get in one now! Go to Bible studies. Get involved in church. Journal your journey with Christ. Surround yourself with safe men and family. Don’t become idle. Pray about everything without ceasing.

2. Focus on your kids. If you have children from the previous marriage, divorce is one of the biggest life-changing events in their lives. I recommend you and your spouse agree to putting the children’s well-being as a top value. Avoid putting them in “he said, she said” situations, and agree to communicate to the kids as one. One message; two messengers. Then show respect to their mother in all situations. Your children are watching, and this isn’t the time for you to act like one.

3. Keep it in your pants. For most men, particularly ‘tweeners, sexual temptation can lure you into relationships too early, open the porn gate from hell or get you into trouble. This is not the time to experiment with your sex life. God’s way is to save sex for marriage, and He has good reason for it.

4. Be patient. Don’t rush into another relationship. Instead, give yourself some time to sort things out and let the divorce repercussions settle. Clearly identify what you are looking for in a mate so you can rule out any posers.

5. Work on your character. Traits like integrity, trust, communication, overcoming adversity, parenting, keeping priorities and keeping your word are essential to successful marriages.

6. Work on your health. Establish a goal, and go for it. Lose weight. Hike a mountain. Get stronger. You will end up looking and feeling great! And consider working on your mental health. There’s no shame in getting counseling or therapy for any links missing in your chain. And shore up your financial health. Divorce can devastate credit, cash, assets and retirement savings. So use this time to get your feet back firmly on the ground.

A loving marriage is something to aspire to. It’s one of the most incredible gifts God has given to us. But you have to be ready.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

EVERY MAN MINISTRIES

3 Warnings in Discerning God’s Will.


woman seeking direction
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)
There can be so much worry involved in knowing God‘s willWhat if I’m wrong? What if I missed it? We either blame ourselves or blame God, and both scenarios expose a small view of God. But God doesn’t want His desires to be a secret. He wants us to know what’s best, and that is why He gives us a lamp to our feet and tells us to ask for wisdom. So, practically, how does God reveal His desires, His will to us?
Prerequisite to Knowing God’s Will 
Romans 12:1-3 talks about giving ourselves entirely to the Lord, having our minds (thoughts, hopes, dreams and aspirations) transformed by Christ. Then we will know and be an example of what God’s will is. So the question is not “What is God’s will for my life?” but “How does my life fit into God’s will?” This is saying, “I’ve surrendered all I have; where do I go to fit into God’s work?” rather than saying, “What does God have for me to make me happy?”
So, before knowing God’s will, you have to ask yourself:
  • Is He really Lord of your life? Are you willing to go anywhere or do anything He might want for you (Matt. 16:24-25)? Are you being fully controlled by the Holy Spirit through faith (Gal. 5:16; Rom 12:1-2)?
  • Is there any unconfessed sin that has broken your fellowship with Him (Is. 59:2)?
3 Ways to Discern and Know God’s Will 
As we seek God’s will, we ought to actually ask Him for wisdom. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge, not a special revelation. However, if we don’t ask in faith (acting on what we know to be true), we might as well not expect anything from God. We must be committed to act on the understanding that He gives us (James 1:5-6).
The GAS acronym gives us the “fuel” (or confidence) to walk out what God has for us:
1. God’s Word. God’s written Word is our ultimate source of authority in all areas of life. What decisions has God already given us clear direction about, based on the Bible? Ask God to lead you to specific passages of how you fit into His plan.
2. Ask mature believers. Ask for advice from mature Christians who are viewed by many as mature, who are informed about what God is doing around the world, someone who knows you well, who will be objective with you and who knows and walks with God and knows His ways.
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Prov. 11:14).
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).
“He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Prov. 15:31-33).
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15).
3. Spirit-filled reasoning. With Christ on the throne, think strategic. God has given us a sound and sanctified mind He expects us to love Him with and be a good steward using. Using wisdom and reason we will follow the examples of the apostles:
“We thought it best … ” (1 Thess. 3:1-2).
“I thought it was necessary … ” (Phil. 2:25-26).
“If it is fitting … ” (1 Cor. 16:3-4).
“It is not desirable … ” (Acts 6:2-4).
“It seemed good … ” (Acts 15:22, 28).
Ask yourself:
  • How does it fit in the overall plan of God? What would be the most strategic choice as an investment of my life? How much _______ will it take? Is there a need? Is there a way? Are there enough people, finances, materials? What would prepare and develop me in the future? What are my motives? Is it to gain approval or acceptance from someone, money, power or to stay comfortable?
  • How can I best INVEST my life (interests, nature/personality, vision, experiences, spiritual Gifts, treasure)?
3 Warnings in Discerning God’s Will 
Be careful of authoritative reliance on subjective means.
1. Be cautious of “the open door policy.” Saying that God’s will is whatever opportunity works out for you. When Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and ran into the Red Sea, that very well could have looked like a “closed door.” Or when Paul and Silas were in jail and a earthquake opened the jail doors but they stayed put. Because they didn’t interpret the literal “open door” as God wanting them to go through it, the jailer and his household came to put their faith in Christ (Acts 16:22-40).
Sometimes a “closed door” may just be an opportunity to give God more glory. Just because an opportunity comes up doesn’t mean it is the best option for your time and resources.
2. Be careful to not judge God’s will by your “feelings of peace.” This is not scriptural (and when it says God will give us peace that passes understanding, it is not talking about decision-making but worry). If our feelings were the authority of God’s will, Jesus would not have died on the cross (Luke 22:42-44; Heb. 12:1-4). God can use our feelings, and oftentimes our desires can be in line with His desire, but when making decisions, it is unwise to use them alone.
Another example is in Acts 21:10-14 and 20:22-23, when the Christians let their feelings try to govern Paul’s decision, but Paul would not let the fear of hard times change his decision.
Faith is established on truth, and truth is not relative but established on fact, not hunches, feelings, impressions, looking for signs or mystical experiences.
3. Be cautious of listening to ungodly counsel. Everyone has an opinion, and most people will share it with you. But just because someone is a good friend does not mean the advice they are giving you is godly. Before taking someone’s advice make sure to weigh what they are saying against Scripture. Does what they are saying match up with God’s Word or contradict it? It might even be best to not talk about important decisions with friends who will encourage you to do the wrong thing.
And finally, step out in faith. Faith is not waiting until you know 100 percent. Genuine faith is moving in that direction, putting confidence more in God’s ability to guide or re-direct than in your ability to decide. It means putting your trust ultimately in God and not in self, circumstances or others.
The more we grow as Christians the more decisions we will make by faith in God, from seemingly big ones like who you’ll marry, to seemingly small ones like what should you watch on TV. It is important to be ready to trust God in your decision whether it turns out the way you expected or not. And remember that with God the process is as important as the product.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.
Laura Krokosthe creator and host of Missional Women, is married and has three kids, two of whom are adopted. Laura and her husband have been missionaries to college students for 11 years, serving with Master Plan Ministries. Laura is the staff women’s development coordinator and has discipled more than 150 girls, led more than 30 Bible studies and speaks 10 to 20 times a year. She is an award-winning author of a 12-week Bible study on 1 Samuel, as well as Beholding Him, Becoming Missional, the recently released Reach: How to Use Your Social Media Influence for the Glory of God and A Devotional Journey through Judges, a devotional to accompany the free online Bible study at TheBookofJudges.com.

“That Verse Saved My Life”.


My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
Proverbs 1:10

Recommended Reading
Proverbs 1:8-15 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20Proverbs%201:8-15&version=NKJV )

Referring to Proverbs 1:10, Barry Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate, wrote: “This simple Bible verse saved my life during my early teenage years when I refused to follow two friends who eventually murdered someone. The same morning I memorized this verse, I refused to go with them. The refusal kept me from going to jail for life — the penalty they received for the crime. God’s warnings are designed to protect us, not to destroy our joy. He challenges us to refuse to follow sinners.”1

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

When we accept the Word of God, it ultimately affects our decisions, our walk, and our entire life. It provides rules when we don’t know where the guardrails are. And it’s a fountainhead of strength when we’re overcome by fear or weakness.

Are you currently memorizing a particular verse or passage from the Bible? If not, find a verse and begin today. You might start with Proverbs 1:10. You never know when the right verse at the right time will save your life.

1 Barry C. Black, The Blessing of Adversity (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011), 100.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Corinthians 1-4

By David Jeremiah.

Counterproductive.


The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?
Proverbs 18:14

Recommended Reading
Proverbs 18:10-14 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2018:10-14&version=NKJV )

Henry Venn was an English pastor and revivalist during the days of evangelist George Whitefield, with whom he was a close friend. When illness struck him down, Henry continued to maintain a vital prayer ministry, even from his sickbed. His grandson later said, “He often declared that he never felt more fervency of devotion than whilst imploring spiritual blessings for his children and friends, and especially for the success of those who were still engaged in the ministry of the blessed gospel, from which he was himself laid aside. For himself, his prayer was that he might die to the glory of Christ.”

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

During his illness, Henry was so full of the Holy Spirit that the doctor treating him observed that the joy he felt at his near departure was actually counterproductive to his dying! It kept giving new stimulus to his life.

Many people who have gone through a trial of illness find a renewed joy in life and in their Savior, and often a renewed ministry and message. Let the Holy Spirit sustain you in illness.

Suffering prepares you by training you to trust God and know that He is always at work in your life.
Charles Stanley

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Luke 3-4

By David Jeremiah.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,694 other followers