Friday, 26 April 2013

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Have you noticed that the mood of your spouse is often contagious, i.e. if they are in a good mood it tends to spill over on to you?  There are probably a number of reasons that this happens but one that is quite fascinating is the concept of the Mirror Neuron.  Such neurons “mirror” the behavior of the person being observed.  Mirror neurons may be important for understanding the actions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation.

I found this of particular interest since it helped to explain a phenomena that my wife and I have been experiencing for some time.  We tend to live a rather calm existence, where routine is more the norm than not.  We discovered that when placed in a situation that was more chaotic in nature we would both get somewhat edgy, not necessarily with each other but just out of sorts.  This phenomenon suggests that my wife and I are first playing off of our environment and secondly off of each other.

The Marriage Counseling Blog adds the following insight, “Our brains are hard wired to notice what other people are feeling. We have something called mirror neurons in our brains which makes us mimic what we see. For example, many people cry when they see someone else cry. Or perhaps you smile when someone else smiles at you. Spend time with happy people and you’re more likely to feel happy. Surround yourself with curmudgeons and you might find yourself complaining more often… Along with a positive attitude about life, surround yourself with people who also have positive attitudes about their marriage. A friend who talks positively about her marriage and her husband can help you to feel more positive about your own marriage.”

Studies have indicated that couples who hang around with couples who are unhappy are more prone to divorce if others in their circle of friends divorce.  That seems to be taking the concept of mirror neurons to a new level.

Back to my wife and me, after all it’s all about us.  We have learned to anticipate potentially chaotic situations and start praying several days prior to the event that our hearts would remain calm, that we would sense the Lord’s presence and His peace.  If it is to be for a period lasting longer than a day we pray during our time away.

The point is seek the Lord and don’t let someone else’s negative demeanor or a stressful situation determine how you will react or behave.  On the other hand don’t hesitate to get caught up in laughter, tears of joy and expressions of love.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Family Devotions

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.
Hebrews 10:25

Dennis Rainey
Dennis Rainey sends out a blog entitled “Moments with You.”  I found the following offering both humorous and sad.

Ever witnessed anything like this at your house before? After falling under deep conviction during the pastor's sermon entitled "The Family Altar Will Save Your Family," Dad cranks up his courage and announces, "Tonight after dinner, we will have family devotions." Later, after finishing his spaghetti, he pushes his plate aside, reaches for the 10-pound family Bible and says, "Everyone please sit up straight and listen carefully. It's time for family worship."

Casting a pleading glance at Mom, he asks, "Honey, would you start us out with a praise chorus?" After a weak song attempt -- during which seven-year-old Tom blurts out, "This noise is making my head hurt!" -- Dad is already sitting upright and is uptight.

"Okay, now let's read some Scripture. What better place to start than the first three chapters of Genesis?" He then proceeds to read the lengthy selection.

"Does anyone have a comment?" Dad asks. A long silence follows. Tom sticks his face in his water glass and tries to drink through his nose, causing Chrissy, age five, to giggle. "Stop it, you two!" Mom exclaims. "Can't you see Daddy is being spiritual?"

"Dad, I've got a lot of homework," says Chuck, the family teenager. "Can we wrap this up?"

"Well, what about Genesis, everybody? Come on. Any comments?" Dad asks, his voice rising. Feeling desperate, he looks at Mom. She quickly averts her eyes. Finally, Chuck lobs in a conversation starter: "What do you think God was doing before the Bible began?"

"I have no earthly idea," Dad says. "Let's pray."

It is sad because I’m afraid it is all too accurate.  Most of us men were not fortunate to grow up in a household where we witnessed dad leading an effective devotional time, so most of us have no clue how to do it.  Secondly most men do not like to do something they do not do well, compounded by the fact that many women can do it well.  Men are to be the leader, protector providers for their family.  The definition of the leader pictured in the Bible is both a spiritual leader and a servant leader.

Here is a suggestion.  Marty Machowski has written two excellent devotional books.  One is entitled Long Story Short covering the Old Testament and the other is entitled Old Story New covering the New Testament.  Each lesson is designed to span one week and each lesson is comprised of five 10 minute daily chunks. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Forgiveness of Sexual Sin

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12—13 (NASB)

Julie Ganschow
I am becoming increasingly aware of the devastating effects of pornography in particular and the endemic nature of this addiction that is affecting millions.  The following is an excerpt from the Biblical Coalition Counseling blog.  It was written by Julie Ganschow.  I particularly wanted the perspective of a woman on this topic because women are most often the victims of infidelity and/or pornography but the landscape is changing.  Julie writes:
I have often heard it said, “I can forgive anything except adultery.” There is nothing quite as difficult as forgiving intentional sin, so when a wife is asked to consider forgiving sexual sin the challenge factor goes up astronomically.

Adultery and other kinds of physical sexual sin violate the most closely held tenants of marriage and are among the hardest to forgive. For a woman to deal biblically with the fallout of the sexual sin in which her husband has been involved, she will have to understand what it means to forgive him biblically and how to do so.
Sexual sin is the unforgivable sin in marriage in the minds of many people; however, is that what the Bible teaches?
The Bible teaches us that the greatest need we all have is to be forgiven for our sin. Without the forgiveness of sin we are all destined for hell and eternal damnation (Romans 6:23). You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to figure out that if God forgives us, He has the expectation that we will forgive each other on the basis of the forgiveness we’ve received.
Unfortunately there is usually much that needs to be forgiven.  Obviously the sinful act itself requires an incredible amount of forgiveness.   There is also the lying and deceit that must accompany such behavior.  And lastly and as important is the shame that some wives feel as though as though in some way they were responsible for their husband’s behavior when they are not.

First a man sins by choice.  What is important for the wife to understand is that God made men “visual” by nature.  So as the book title implies it is Every Man’s Battle.  Today even the most faithful of men are confronted everywhere they go with unhealthy images.

Lastly it is important to understand that pornography is as addictive as cocaine and it is not unusual that a boy has been introduced to inappropriate images by age eleven.

We are in a war!