After the last tear falls
After the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

‘Cause after the last plan fails
After the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “this marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

All things will be made new. All things will be made right. We’ll look back on these tears as old tales.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev 21:3-4)

(Lyrics from Andrew Peterson’s song “After the Last Tear Falls”)

Are there still Apostles today?

The following is quoted from Grudem, Wayne (2009-05-18). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

New Testament apostles had a unique kind of authority in the early church: authority to speak and write words which were “words of God” in an absolute sense. To disbelieve or disobey them was to disbelieve or disobey God. The apostles, therefore, had the authority to write words which became words of Scripture.

This fact in itself should suggest to us that there was something unique about the office of apostle, and that we would not expect it to continue today, for no one today can add words to the Bible and have them be counted as God’s very words or as part of Scripture.

In addition, the New Testament information on the qualifications of an apostle and the identity of the apostles also leads us to conclude that the office was unique and limited to the first century, and that we are to expect no more apostles today.

Today some people use the word apostle in a very broad sense, to refer to an effective church planter, or to a significant missionary pioneer (“William Carey was an apostle to India,” for example). If we use the word apostle in this broad sense, everyone would agree that there are still apostles today—for there are certainly effective missionaries and church planters today.

The New Testament itself has three verses in which the word apostle (Gk. apostolos) is used in a broad sense, not to refer to any specific church office, but simply to mean “messenger.”

In Philippians 2:25, Paul calls Epaphroditus “your messenger (apostolos) and minister to my need”

In 2 Corinthians 8:23, Paul refers to those who accompanied the offering that he was taking to Jerusalem as “messengers [apostoloi] of the churches”

And in John 13:16, Jesus says, “Nor is he who is sent [apostolos] greater than he who sent him.”

But there is another sense for the word apostle. Much more frequently in the New Testament the word refers to a special office, “apostle of Jesus Christ.” In this narrow sense of the term, there are no more apostles today, and we are to expect no more. This is because of what the New Testament says about the qualifications for being an apostle and about who the apostles were.

Don’t mow over the pain points in your life

You need to be very, very slow to reconstruct or cut off relationships.

God is at work in pain points of your life. And most pain points stem from relationships. So don’t be too quick to rearrange. I’m not saying there’s not a time to rearrange and cut off. There absolutely is. But not before we do the hard work of seeing what’s being revealed in our hearts through doing life with other people.

It is easy to just renegotiate the terms of a relationship when conflict shows its face. It is easy to cut those relationships and go find new ones without ever really digging into the heart to see what God might be doing.

Don’t mow over these pain points. Let it lead you into your heart to see what’s going on there.

Mowing over means dealing with symptoms instead of dealing with the heart. Mowing over is saying, “I’m not going to deal with my part, with what’s going on in my heart. I’m simply going to be an expert in their weaknesses and my strength, and I’m going to find friends who appreciate me.”

If you’re always in conflict, if you’re always being betrayed, if you always feel under appreciated, that’s a heart issue you need to check out. Don’t mow over that. It’s not just, “I need friends who understand me. I need a spouse who really gets me.”

What if the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart? What if what’s actually wrong with us is not symptomatic, but rather something going on in the heart. Is it not true that symptoms reveal the disease? King Solomon wrote, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5 ESV)

Without digging into the heart of the issue, there isn’t any real freedom and there isn’t any real life. That fullness of life Christ has promised us isn’t experienced when you’re mowing over the weeds.

~ Adapted from a sermon by Matt Chandler

Finding fulfillment and satisfaction in the work you do

What is your attitude toward your job and the work you do? Do you like what you do? Do you like the people you work for?

Maybe you feel like Mark Twain, who said, “Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.” But work is not evil. Work is something God gave us to do before sin entered our world. Before Adam fell from grace, God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to tend it and watch over it.

But after the Fall of Adam, work became difficult. God told Adam, “the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.” (Genesis 3:17-18 NLT) The punishment is not work itself, but rather the hardship and frustration that will accompany the job you do.

Work is good, but it is often frustrating. If you work for someone who may not treat you fairly it becomes more frustrating. Someone who doesn’t recognize your efforts or see the diligence you bring to the smallest details involved in your job. You may feel overlooked when it comes to promotion or competitive compensation for your effort and what you bring to the place you work.

If you experience this, it can become tempting to murmur and complain. To do your work grudgingly. To do little as you can to get by.

But I think there is a way you can find contentment and fulfillment in your work no matter what you do or whom you work for. There are times when you might need to change jobs or careers, but many times the problem isn’t with your surroundings, the company, or your boss. The issue is often internal. It has to do with your motives.

The Apostle Paul describes this change of inward focus. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT)

Finding fulfillment from your work happens when you see God as the One you are working for rather than a boss, a customer, a client, or a company. That small change of focus of the heart can make all the difference in how you approach what you do for a living. Because instead of basing your expectations for compensation you get from a company, you understand that, God sees everything you do and will reward you accordingly. When see Jesus as your boss you believe He will reward you for what you do. If your intent and motivation for working is done of out of love and respect for Him.

God even takes into account when you receive unjust treatment in some way. You can trust whatever situation you are in to God, who is sovereign. That is what Joseph did when he was thrown into prison unfairly and spent at least over two years for a crime he never committed. He understood that no matter where he went and no matter what he did that God’s providence guided his life. The providence of God teaches that God is actively related to and involved in the creation at each moment. In every detail of your life. The things that happen to you are not determined by chance, nor are they determined by impersonal fate, but are determined by God. God directs all things to fulfill His purposes.

When you understand this, it allows you to see that what you do for your work is actually done for the Lord. Instead of compartmentalizing your life, you see that all your life is to be lived to God’s glory. And therein you will find greater joy and contentment in what you do.

Feeling defensive? Here is what you can do about it.

What does it means to be defensive?

Defensiveness is something you do in order to protect yourself. You need good defenses. Good defenses are essential to your well being. They help protect the relational, spiritual, psychological and physical aspects of your life.

You can get defensive, however, in a negative way. It becomes negative when you try to defend against reality and truth that you need to hear. This type of defensiveness is a stance. It is a stand against ownership. You avoid taking ownership of a problem. The bible describes this type of defensiveness as foolish. Consider these verses from Proverbs.

  • “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” (Proverbs 12:15 NLT)
  • “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10 NLT)
  • “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2 NLT)

So what are the consequences for being defensive in a negative way?

It immunizes you from the help that you need. Help can come in the form of rebuke. And rebuke and correction are a good thing if you want to grow. If you are defensive to correction, you are immunizing yourself from something you might need. Wise people appreciate correction. The bible says,”So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8 NLT)

And if you are unwilling to receive correction, it can hurt you in many different areas of your life. It can cost you your career, friendships, or even your marriage. So there is a need we all have to become aware of our defensiveness.

Here are some unproductive ways that you might express defensiveness.

You move away from it.

You don’t want to face it. You don’t want to deal with it. You withdraw. You avoid or ignore it altogether. When it comes to fight or flight, you fly away. It is a passive response.

You move against it.

You might be more aggressively wired. When it comes to fight or flight, you fight. You get angry. You see the other person as the problem. You blame and turn it back on the person who is bringing you the correction. You shoot the messenger. You say, “Well I wouldn’t do that or be that way if you would…..”.

You move towards it.

You join it and lie down. You bring it on yourself in the form of pity. Saying, “I never do anything right”.

Because you don’t want to defend yourself against the things that can help you. Dr. Henry Cloud gives some insight on what you can do about your own defensiveness.

1. Recognize your patterns.

Learn to recognize when you get defensive and how you respond to it. Be aware. Do you move toward it, away from it, or move against it?

2. Stop and listen to it.

Stop before acting on it. Don’t fire back. You may need to step away. Get some space. Let it land and look at.

3. Look at the source of the defensiveness.

Does it come out of habit because of a previous wound? Does it come from your own pride? Do you have a high need for control? Do you feel like someone is trying to take control from you?

4. Embrace it but don’t lose your own separateness.

Stay separate enough from the feedback where you can take it in. Weigh it and take from it what is useful but don’t give it too much power. Don’t let it destroy you.

5. Learn from it.

When the light comes to you, embrace it. Ask yourself, “What shifts do I need to make?” “What new behaviors do I need to develop?”

(The above was inspired from what taken and inspired from a talk by Henry Cloud.)

Listen to a sample of the talk by Henry Cloud.

Purchase the audio or video from Henry Cloud

I would love to hear your feedback or comments.

Can’t you feel it in your bones? Something isn’t right here.

I just discovered this song by Andrew Peterson “Don’t You Want To Thank Someone”. Beautiful song. These lyrics capture the experience of living in a broken world that is waiting and longing to be redeemed. It captures the heart of what it means to live in the “already” and “not yet” aspects of God’s kingdom. Don’t miss the last few stanzas. They capture the beauty of God redeeming all that is bad and the suffering we see and experience in our world.

Can’t you feel it in your bones
Something isn’t right here
Something that you’ve always known
But you don’t know why

‘Cause every time the sun goes down
We face another night here
Waiting for the world to spin around
Just to survive

But when you see the morning sun
Burning through a silver mist
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?

‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down

And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

I used to be a little boy
As golden as a sunrise
Breaking over Illinois
When the corn was tall

Yeah, but every little boy grows up
And he’s haunted by the heart that died
Longing for the world that was
Before the Fall

Oh, but then forgiveness comes
A grace that I cannot resist
And I just want to thank someone
I just want to thank someone for this

Now I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
Dripping from prophets’ lips

But still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this

‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat
I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks
It’s blazing in the midnight sun

Just behind a veil of wind
A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim
Making ready for the Reckoning

Oh, how long, how long?
Oh, sing on, sing on

And when the world is new again
And the children of the King
Are ancient in their youth again
Maybe it’s a better thing
A better thing

To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent
But it’s waking up
And I’m waking up

‘Cause I can hear the voice of one
He’s crying in the wilderness
“Make ready for the Kingdom Come”
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallalujah! Hallelujah!
Come back soon
Come back soon

The main reason why spouses have affairs and/or divorce

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. is a book I often refer to people seeking to save a wounded marriage, rebuild a broken marriage, or strengthen a existing marriage. This book doesn’t deal with some of the spiritual issues important to marriage, but it does present a very real look at why affairs happen. (Read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas or The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller for a good perspective on the important spiritual implications of marriage.)

Dr. Harley says that people have affairs and divorce when their spouse does not intentionally seek to fulfill their spouse’s top needs. After many years of counseling, Christian and non-Christian couples, he has found that when a spouse chooses to overlook the needs of their spouse, the result is often marital infidelity.

When an affair starts, it usually begins as a friendship.

You share problems with the other person, and that person shares problems with you. As your friendship deepens, you start giving each other mutual support and encouragement, especially in regard to your unmet needs.

“Life is difficult. Many people become extremely disillusioned about their lives. When they find someone encouraging and supportive, the attraction toward that person acts as a powerful magnet.”

When you become caught in an affair, you and your lover share a strong willingness to meet each other’s needs. This willingness binds you in a mutual love that develops into a passionate sexual relationship. This mutual desire to bring each other happiness builds an affair into one of the most satisfying and intimate relationships either of you have ever known.

As the intensity of your mutual care and passion increases, you discover yourself caught in a trap of your own making. You lose all sense of judgment as you literally become addicted to each other in a relationship built upon fantasy, not reality.

To prevent this outcome, or to recover from it, Dr. Harley suggests ten “needs” that each married couples should meet for their spouse. This is a generic list. Different people have different emotional needs. The workbook Five Steps to Romantic Love is a great tool for couples to do together to discover their unique top emotional needs. You can also download a free copy of the assessment here.

Here are the top ten needs

1. Affection
The nonsexual expression of care through words, cards, gifts, hugs, kisses, and courtesies; creating an environment that clearly and repeatedly expresses care.

2. Sexual Fulfillment
A sexual experience that is predictably enjoyable and frequent enough for you.

3.  Intimate conversation.
Talking about feelings, topics of personal interest opinions, and plans.

4. Recreational Companionship
Leisure activities with at least one other person.

5. Honesty and openness.
Truthful and frank expression of positive and negative feelings, events of the past, daily events and schedule, and plans for the future; not leaving a false impression.

6. Physical attractiveness.
Viewing physical traits of the opposite sex that are aesthetically and/or sexually pleasing.

7. Financial support. 
Provision of the financial resources to house, feed, and clothe your family at a standard of living acceptable to you.

8. Domestic support.
Management of the household tasks and care of the children—if any are at home—that create a home environment that offers you a refuge from stress.

9. Family commitment.
Provision for the moral and educational development of your children within the family unit.

10. Admiration.
Being shown respect, value, and appreciation

Meeting your spouse’s top needs maintains feelings of love. And Dr. Harley says the heart of what makes marriages work is the feeling of love. He says in his years of counseling that he’s never counseled a couple in love who wanted a divorce. Skills in marriage don’t necessary mean people won’t divorce either. He adds that he has counseled many divorcing couples with excellent communication and problem-solving skills. But unless those skills help trigger the feeling of love, spouses feel cheated in their marriages and often want out.This book provides a tried and proven plan for married couples to restore and sustain their love for each other.