Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility, Christian Life
Volume 6 No. 358 July 15, 2016

IV. General Weekly Features

Family Special: What We Often Get Wrong about Submission

by Sheila Wray Gregoire

My husband was a busy pediatrician, on call two or three nights a week, and on the verge of burnout. I was a busy stay-at-home mom to two little girls, but my writing career was also blossoming.

And so we faced a crisis. Keith desperately needed some time to relax. And one of his favorite hobbies is reenacting historical battles using miniature soldiers. That may sound super geeky, but our town boasts a bunch of guys who love replaying the Civil War too, and Keith wanted one night a week to join them. But if he left me alone one more night, how was I ever going to write my book?

I did not handle his request well. Didn’t he respect my career goals? But he was equally desperate: Didn’t I realize that he needed some downtime, especially since he dealt with life-and-death issues that were wearing on him?

We went around in circles until Keith stopped us. “Sheila, we’re being ridiculous,” he said. “I know you love me and want me to have free time, and you know I love you and want to see your writing grow. We just have a time problem, that’s all.”

We stopped trying to figure out which of us would win, and we started brainstorming ideas so both of us got what we needed. Eventually Keith closed his office one afternoon a week so that he could care for the kids while I wrote--and he still got a night out with his friends.

I see that story as a success.

If we had followed some traditional Christian teaching, though, we may have given up too early. Sometimes our teaching on submission insinuates that God actually sees marriage as a "him vs. her" relationship where one of you is supposed to win--and that person is your husband.

When I speak at marriage conferences, I often ask wives what they think submission means. The room grows silent as they hem and haw, until finally a few hands are raised. "When you disagree, he gets the final say."

This interpretation seems odd in light of the way the rest of the Bible talks about Christian relationships. It sees marriage as a constant tug-of-war where you'll have disagreements you can't solve without one of you giving in. Yet in 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul appeals to us, "that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought."

Unity is to be the hallmark of a Christian relationship, so God clearly wants us to pray, wrestle through, and seek His will together. By assuming that a wife will always defer to her husband, though, we're not necessarily even seeking God's will. After all, if the couple is in disagreement and they do it the husband's way, there are only two possibilities: either one of them is not hearing God, or both of them are not hearing God.

My friend Holly spent three years deferring to her husband, Chris, believing that she was submitting. Chris wanted to pay the bills for their busy household of six, living in expensive Colorado Springs. Holly would see the bills arrive in the mail, but she didn't always see those envelopes get opened. When she would mention her concerns, Chris would assure her that he had it under control, and she shouldn't worry.

Finally, crestfallen, Chris sat down with Holly and told her that they were facing foreclosure on their house. The bills had piled up, and he hadn't known how to deal with them after their mortgage went underwater in the economic downturn. They cried together, hugged each other, and started to make a plan to dig out from under the mess.

After their wake up call, Holly began to rethink what submission meant. It doesn't mean women are to say nothing--after all, Paul wrote that we should all submit to one another. It's an attitude, then, not a method of deciding things.

The Greek literally means "putting ourselves under”, so when wives submit, we willingly pursuing his best. In humility, we become willing to think of his needs, his wants, his interests, his desires, before we think of our own. We don’t just defer to him. We emotionally and physically invest in building him up and pursuing his best--which also involves confronting issues where he's moving away from God's will.

"In the end," Holly told me, "I apologized to Chris for not submitting to him." If she had properly submitted to Chris, Holly said, she wouldn't have watched him going downhill without doing anything to address the problem. She would have spoken up. God had given her administrative gifts, and yet she hadn't used them. She hadn't been a helper to him.

Now, six years later, Chris and Holly have taken a leap of faith to move halfway across the country, waiting on God to provide a job. It was a decision they felt called to after they each spent a year praying about it both together and apart. And they were united in the decision. Holly says, "Even though it's like jumping out of an airplane, it's so much more fun because we're doing it together!"

About The Author:

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of 'Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage' (WaterBrook Press, August 18, 2015).

Source: Daily Update

Raising Children: Confident Parents

by Dr. James C Dobson

"Blessed is the man…whose confidence is in [the Lord]."
-  Jeremiah 17:7

Matt, visiting his parents with his wife and two young sons, was in a reflective mood. While taking a walk with his father, he remarked, "You know, Dad, while I was growing up, I sort of had the feeling that you didn't have a clue about this parenting stuff. But now that I'm a dad myself, I'm starting to change my mind. You're getting smarter every year!"

Raising healthy, educated, self-disciplined children who love God and their fellow human beings may very well be the most challenging responsibility in living. It's an unbelievably complex assignment. And of course, the job is even tougher in a culture that tries to undermine everything we do at home. Yet too many moms and dads today are complicating the task by taking on unnecessary guilt, fear, and self-doubt. I don't believe that is what God has in mind!

The Scriptures clearly tell us that children are to be considered a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3–5), and that the privilege of raising them should be a wonderful, joyful experience. He has granted parents the authority to raise their sons and daughters: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). And when parents depend on Him to teach and lead their families, they can act with confidence: "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God" (2 Corinthians 3:4–5).

We will make mistakes in bringing up our kids. Fortunately, however, we are not asked to do everything perfectly as moms and dads. Our children usually manage to survive our mistakes and failures and turn out better than we have any right to boast about. They may even figure out that we did know what we were doing most of the time!

When problems flare up in your family, I know how easy it is to second-guess your parenting decisions. But God did not entrust you with this job by accident. As long as you choose to obey the Lord and dedicate yourselves to raising your children according to the principles outlined in Scripture, no one can better fill the role of parent for your wonderful sons and daughters than you. When you are confident in Him (Jeremiah 17:7), you can be confident parents.

From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Self Improvement: How to Beat Procrastination

By Craig Ballantyne

"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday."
- Napoleon Hill

It was 4 a.m. Time to get up, pet the dog, clear the cobwebs from my mind, and sit down to write. That's my Magic Time and I must not waste a minute of it.

But one morning last month I struggled to get started. So I emptied the garbage. Took out the recycling. Packed my toiletries for my weekend travel. Arranged the books on my desk to sit at perfect 90-degree angles. I even shaved. And on a day when I would be working from home!

Finally, I decided to man-up and sit down. I glued myself to my chair (figuratively, of course), and forced myself to write. The first few minutes were difficult, almost excruciating. But then the mental spigots opened and the words flowed, and the Zen-like feeling I get from my morning writing spread through me.

This is how you stop procrastinating.

By doing.

Do or do not do. There is no try, young Skywalker. Start now.

I write because that is what I was born to do. I can't stop writing. But I'll admit, sometimes it's awful tough to get started. Some days I need a little extra push to get going. We all do. But once you get that ball of momentum rolling down the hill, it's tough to stop.

Even the most hard-core marathon runner often struggles with the first few steps on a cold November morning. However, the same runner knows full well the Boston Marathon is only a few short months away and so they stop trying and simply do.

All of the inertia disappears once you start.

To start is to win.

To start is magical.

To start is spiritual.

To start is to say, “This is it, world. This is what I've come to do and you're not going to stop me, with your siren songs of petty distractions like social media or reality television.”

To start is to almost finish.

But why is it so hard to start doing and stop procrastinating?

Are You Missing Out on Life Because of This Inner Demon?

Just think of all the amazing accomplishments you could achieve if you could just beat the procrastination monster.

According to an article from Scientific American, almost 20% of the population chronically procrastinates, routinely putting off tasks to tomorrow that could be done today.

Frankly, that number seems awfully low. Our tendency to procrastinate, first developed in college pulling all-nighters to cram for exams or finish off a term paper, is easily strengthened in today's world of constant social media updates, email addiction, multitasking, and 24-hour news channels..

But for every minute you spend procrastinating, you miss out on a minute of effective study, a minute of making an impact, a minute of moving towards your full potential.

If procrastination is an issue for you, then let's change that starting right now. Don't wait a minute longer in learning how to tame the beast.

My Simple One Second Secret to Stop Procrastination Every Time

Marketing guru Eben Pagan warns us about getting sucked into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) loops. An OCD loop might involve checking your email, visiting news websites, checking your website or sales statistics, reading your text messages, and then returning to your inbox to start the loop all over again. That's how so many of us procrastinate the day away.

But it doesn't have to be like that.

When I was younger and the novelty of seeing a new sale notification hitting my inbox had not yet worn off, I was guilty of giving in to a powerful OCD loop like the one described above. Fortunately I recognized the problem and over time developed a simple, quick and easy solution to snap out of it and get back to work.

I developed a trigger.

A trigger is exactly that. It's an action item that triggers you to get back to work.

It doesn't need to be anything fancy. It doesn't need to cost money or require another person to help you. It just needs to be an easy, yet effective reminder that triggers you to get back to the task at hand.

For me, it was simply having the smallest amount of discipline to open up the Microsoft Word program on my computer.

That was the trigger that snapped me out of my procrastination.

As soon as I realized I was entering an OCD loop, I fought the urge to continue and opened up the word document. It triggered a break in my bad habit and a return to the right actions.

I still use this trick today.

On that morning when I struggled to sit down and write, it would have been easy to continue finding household chores to occupy my time. But that would have put me far off track of my daily goals.

The only thing that saved me was my trigger. When I conjured up just the smallest modicum of discipline to sit down in front of my computer and open up the word document, everything changed.

It was the trigger I needed to return to my writing. From there, each word typed was a victory. Each sentence a battle won. Each paragraph was a huge step in conquering the procrastination demon. Each victory made it easier to achieve the next. I was on a roll.

That's the big lesson. Action begets action. And it all starts with a simple trigger.

How to Pull the Trigger on the Tasks You're Avoiding

In their book, Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath explore the science of building habits. What they found was in order to make something a habit, we simply need to make it easy – and rewarding – for us to take the action.

Having a trigger reminds you to get back on track. Triggers, like brushing your teeth, can you get you back on track and stop mindless eating at night. Turning on loud, energetic music can be the trigger you need to finally start the exercise session you've been delaying all morning. Pulling out your checkbook and putting on a collared-shirt could be the trigger you need to finally sit down and deal with your monthly bills.

These little triggers can go a long way.

It's what you'll find with all activities that you are procrastinating on. Scientific research supports it. The only thing that helps you overcome procrastination is to actually do the thing you are procrastinating about. That's it. You must take action.

And it can all be made easier with a trigger. Pull that trigger and you'll slip back into your right habits with less willpower required.

So how do you stop procrastination? Just start.

Identify a trigger to get you into action mode. And once you've started, don't stop until you're done. Keep on pushing, start your day with one positive success step. Don't do anything else until you make progress on something that is important to you!

What are you procrastinating on? What important task do you keep putting off? And what trigger can you use to get back on track?

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly. His no-nonsense, sometimes "politically-incorrect" advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. ]

Source: ETR
Copyright © 2015 Early to Rise, LLC.

Special: How God is Working in Your Life Even When You Least Expect it

by John Stonestreet,

In 9th grade, I was a knucklehead. Even worse, I was a Christian school knucklehead. Those are the worst kind. Six days a week, between that Christian school and the church that operated it, I was in the same building hearing the same Bible lessons, often from the same people. But I didn't really have much of a faith that I could call my own.

That all began to change on the last day of classes before Christmas break in December of 1990. Now we all know what's supposed to happen on the last day of classes before Christmas break: not much.

Well, that day, my Bible teacher announced that our boys Bible class was being sent out two by two to visit the elderly "shut-ins" of our church. I suppose the intention was to bring Christmas cheer, but as you might imagine, that's not what happened. The only thing we wanted to do less than school work on the last day of classes before Christmas break was visit old people we'd never met.

My only consolation was that I was paired with my friend Brian. He shared my disdain for the assignment we'd been given. "What are we going to do?" I asked. "I don't want to go see any old people."

"I've got an idea," Brian replied. "We'll go visit one person, but say that we couldn't find the other person's house. That way, we'll be done fast and can go to the mall."

And that's how I met Ms. Buckner. She lived down a windy, rural Virginia road in a small little apartment her grandson had built for her on the end of his farmhouse.

She invited us inside, and there we were: an 11th grader, a ninth grader, and an 89-year-old widow. We didn't have a lot in common.

Just when we thought it couldn't possibly get any more awkward, Ms. Buckner said, "Let's sing Christmas carols together." We stumbled our way through Silent Night, and then she decided one carol was enough.

"Well, Ms. Buckner," Brian said, "we'd best be on our way."

"Yes," I lied, "we still have one more person to visit before heading back to school."

And then she asked, "Can we pray together before you go?"

So I prayed, and Brian prayed - that took about 45 seconds. But then Ms. Buckner prayed.

At that point, I'd been in the church my whole life. I'd heard thousands of prayers. But I had never heard anything like this. I remember looking up just make sure that Jesus wasn't sitting next to her, because it sure sounded like He was. She spoke to God as if she knew Him, with a simultaneous confidence and humility that only comes when you're certain you're being heard.

We left her house and headed to the mall, distracted by our plan to meet some girls. But I do remember, however, Brian saying to me, "She's a cool old woman." And I agreed.

Two years later, I woke up with the strangest feeling. Typically, I'd wake up thinking about basketball or my girlfriend, but I woke up this particular morning thinking of Ms. Buckner. And to this day, I have no idea why.

But I ended up going back down that windy road to her house. "Ms. Buckner," I said, "you probably don't remember me, but two years ago I came here with my friend Brian. My name is John."

"John," she smiled. "I prayed for you this morning."

From that point on, Ms. Buckner became a close personal friend. In fact, she prayed for me every day for the rest of her life. To this day, I cannot imagine what she prayed me into or out of.

At age fourteen, I found myself - seemingly by chance - in the home of an 89-year-old woman I didn't know, and didn't particularly care to know. I didn't want to be there. I lied to her. And yet, God used her to alter the trajectory of my life. I found out later that she had actually impacted many, many others in that community as well.

That's what happens when you know Jesus, and treat others like the image-bearers that they are. God uses us, often in ways we can't even imagine.

About The Author:

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of 'Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview'.

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