Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to Meditate – God’s Way

How to MeditateThe Holy scriptures have much to say about how to meditate and what meditation is. In fact meditation has taken on a negative connotation for many people of faith. Sadly it has become a lost art – given over to the NewAge gurus and practitioners of Eastern mysticism. In this type of meditation the goal is often to “empty one’s self” in order to find intimacy with a god…this god is often equated with self or some other spiritual being. This is in direct opposition to what God’s word teaches on the nature of God, self and meditation – where God – whose name is Yahweh – is the center of all things and the focus of all such mental exercises.

Learning how to meditate is an art form that needs to be recovered by Christians and put into daily practice.

More than one Bible character engaged in the art form of meditation. The first place we notice a person meditating in the Bible is in Genesis 24:63. Isaac, the son of promise, had gone out into the field one evening to meditate. It’s easy to imagine Isaac’s need at this particular time in his life to meditate. His mother Sarah had passed away, his father Abraham was getting older and was well advanced in years, and he was awaiting the arrival of his bride to be.

Most likely Isaac, in the midst of these life circumstances, had a strong need to draw close to Yahweh, His God…He knew he was the child of promise…but what lies ahead? With his mother gone and his father well advanced in years, his life was changing dramatically. What did Elohim, his God, have in store for him? Who would his servant bring back for him to share his life with? How would Elohim fulfill the covenant He made with his father Abraham through him? There was so much to consider, so much to sort out, so much to seek God about.

Although the simple thing to do here would be to spell out the 1-2-3 steps of how to meditate, but then we might miss the point. You see we all meditate naturally. We meditate when we sit and think deeply, or lie on our beds and allow our thoughts to wander about the past, present or the future or the events of the day. But this is not necessarily productive meditation.

What is important in learning how to meditate is to elevate the unconscious or semiconscious to the conscious level. That is to become intentional about how you manage and exercise your mental energies. Meditation is a conscious exercise of focusing one’s cognitive energies on something specific and most importantly bringing the light of God’s word to bear on the thoughts. Meditation may simply be considering an aspect of God’s character as found in His word or contemplating meaningful scripture verses that you would like to grasp better. Meditation, the soaking in of the word, invites the Holy Spirit to impart the light of God’s truth into our heart. In this way meditation has a transformative nature.

It’s note worthy that Genesis 24:63 doesn’t say that Isaac went out to the field in the evening to worry, to grieve, to plan, or even to pray…though he may have done some of all of the above, we do not know. When Moses recorded this event in Isaac’s life he specifically used the Hebrew word suwach. It is only used this 1 time in the Old Testament. Though other forms of it do occur elsewhere.

In both the Old and New Testaments there are several different words that are translated as meditate or meditation. As we see in this story of Issac, meditation flows out of a need and a desire to draw close to God. A desire to commune with God in solitude. A need to create time and space in which he could contemplate, weigh and sort out his thoughts in light of God’s word and presence.

This brief interlude in Isaac’s life that as noted in Genesis gives us insight into several how to meditate principles we may weave into our own lives as we consider this lost art of Judeo-Christian meditation…

  • Solitude: Isaac, presumably after a day of work, as he was an accomplished man at the age of 40, seeks solitude in God’s creation – a field – a place a distance from his tent.
  • Peace: At the end of the day, when the chores and work are done and the sun is setting is a particularly peaceful time to meditate. The work is behind, the quiet of the evening dawns. Evening is a time of day when it may be easier to rest one’s mind and focus one’s thoughts.
  • Posture: Although the scriptures do not particularly say that Isaac was sitting, we can infer, as the word shuwach (a word derived from suwach) means to bow down, to incline to be humble that Isaac likely was in a position of humility – perhaps he was kneeling, sitting or lying prostrate as is consistent with middle eastern culture. Another hint we also get is that at one point he “lifted up his eyes” and saw that there were camels coming. It is good to place ones self in a humble posture when communing with the Living God. To kneel and rest the forehead on the ground or on stacked hands can also be helpful in quieting the thoughts – a must for meditation.
  • Life Change: Issac is in a place of transition in his life. His mother, with whom he was particularly close has passed away. He will soon be sharing his mother’s tent with his new wife, his father Abraham is elderly and will not be with him forever. Major life events require us to contemplate and ponder and pray.
  • Preparation: In this scenario, as Isaac finishes his meditation and prayer it coincides with God’s providentially bringing Rebekah into his life. One can draw an inference that through Isaac’s communion with God in the field, he was being prepared to receive his new wife and embark with her on their new life together. We see that they both receive each other with grace and dignity and Isaac was comforted by Rebekah after his mother’s death.

If the truth be told, I wish all would learn how to meditate on God’s word. It is a powerful and necessary means of knowing God more intimately.

 

Marriage Intimacy – Every Couple’s Desire

Marriage IntimacyResearch in the field of psychology has supported the Biblical truth that human beings were made, our brains literally wired for relationship. The wealth of this research is called Attachment Theory. Tim Clinton, President of the American Association of Christian Counselors and co-author of the book, Attachments, Why You Love, Feel and Act the Way You Do, had this to say about marriage intimacy and attachment theory at the 2006 AACC National Conference:

“Attachment theory is a theory on relationships. It is about how we do or do not do intimacy. It is a theory of emotion because we believe when we are threatened, face stress or duress, look towards our safe haven for security and find either I will be calmed and soothed or not.”

Understanding our attachment style, what it looks like cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally, as well as what triggers it and what to do about it will greatly aid a couple’s journey towards healing, intimacy and health in the marriage relationship. Tools and techniques may be very helpful, but it is a healthy connection between 2 people that we call attachment that makes all the difference in marriage.

The original state of Adam and Eve was complete marital intimacy and oneness. They lived and worked in the Garden of Eden, enjoying each other and sharing in the work. Eve had no difficulty submitting to Adam and respecting him and Adam loved Eve. It came naturally. They were naked and unashamed. Their being naked and unashamed says so much about the intimacy that Adam and Eve enjoyed. They loved and enjoyed each other. There was nothing that came between them: no conflict, blame or shame. They knew each other deeply and accepted each other completely.

This is the longing of every heart. This is the definition of intimacy in marriage – to be deeply known and loved by your spouse.

Read more about intimacy in marriage

 

Intimacy in Marriage

intimacyThe key to intimacy in marriage is understanding that….

One of your greatest accomplishments in marriage will be to understand that both your spouse and you are wounded and choose to consciously cooperate with the Holy Spirit to appropriate God’s grace, love, faithfulness, and mercy for mutual healing.

The scriptures make it clear that human beings were made for relationship. From the beginning of human history we read in Genesis that God declared that it is not good for the man to be alone. Therefore, He created Eve as a helpmate and companion for Adam. The relationship that Adam had with Eve, his wife, was not like any other relationship that Adam could have with God’s creatures. Even Adam’s relationship with God fell short compared to His relationship with Eve. One of the reasons people get married is that they do not want to be alone. Couples long to have deep connection and intimacy in marriage.

Was Adam really alone?

It’s interesting to consider that though God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” Adam was not literally alone in the Garden: besides the animals, Adam had God. God walked in Adam’s domain (Gen. 3:8), God cared for Adam and instructed him in the way of abundant life (Gen. 2:16), God provided fulfilling activity for Adam by which to serve God as a vassal over the Garden. In other words God had a multifaceted relationship with Adam (Gen. 3:19).

So what did God mean that Adam was alone? Initially Adam did not have a means of satisfying his social and procreative nature. To fully satisfy his nature he needed another of his own kind as a faithful and monogamous companion. He did not have one who was like him and thus there was no one in Adam’s world whom he could know and enjoy procreative intimacy with as a kindred spirit. Adam was alone in his work and in his own kind. There was not another like him.

Adam was alone in that…

  • He was alone in his work of taking dominion over the earth and subduing it. Work, even the most pleasant kind that Adam was employed in, is all the more pleasurable when shared with others. Solomon said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
  • Adam was alone in that he was unable to fulfill the work God gave him by himself. That was the work of being fruitful and multiplying. Therefore God created the Woman to be a helpmate and partner with Adam to accomplish the work God had prepared in advance for them. (Eph 2:10).
  • Adam was alone in that he had no one of like kind to exchange knowledge and affection with. Just as the Godhead is full of love, joy, unity, and faithfulness, as a creature made in the image of God, God would have Adam enjoy the blessing of intimate relationship such as He enjoys in the Godhead. Therefore He made the Woman, she was like Adam in nature but different in sex. Matthew Henry says, “If man is the head, she is the crown…the man was dust refined, but the women was dust double refined, one removed further from the earth.”

There was a close personal relationship which Adam was privileged to have with his Creator and still, Yahweh, the all sufficient One, declared that Adam was “alone”. Clearly Adam was not alone in the sense that he did not have anybody else, because he had the animals and he had God. But God Himself declares that it’s not enough for Adam to only have a relationship with Himself and the animals. God wanted Adam to enjoy intimacy in marriage.

Adam needed more to be satisfied. The apostle Paul takes the concept of knowing God to a deeply personal level: “My determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him…” Philippians 3:10 (Amplified Version). To enjoy intimacy in marriage, we like Paul, must make it our determined purpose to know our spouse and become progressively more deeply and intimately acquainted with them.

Read more about marriage intimacy.

 

Marriage Counseling Resources

Marriage Counseling

Click the picture to find a marriage counselor

There are many helpful marriage counseling resources available, but remember there are no tools or techniques that have the power to heal hearts that are unwilling to yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Research shows over 50% of marriages end in divorce and over 70% of second marriages end in divorce. With statistics like that there’s a real need for quality Christian marriage counseling.

If you count couples that separate and never get divorced, the numbers are even more abysmal…66%!

Couples tend to wait far too long before getting help. Unfortunately many couples never enter into couples counseling until they have already crossed the point of no return.

The reality is more marriages are failing than are succeeding. If we look at the positives…that is who’s succeeding in marriage, according to Neil Clark Warren’s data, only 25% of couples endure and state that they are truly happy!

For some practical information about couples counseling keep reading…


What can you expect from Marriage Counseling?

First of all, you can expect that your counselor has a method or approach for helping couples to positively resolve their marriage issues.

In fact, you should ask what the counselor’s approach is so you can be confident that there is an approach. What you don’t need is mediation every week while you and your spouse duke it out (so to speak) in your counselor’s office.

I have talked to many people who report that their counselor just let them talk (or argue) for an hour, while they nod their head, reflect what was said and reschedule.

If you are having marriage difficulties you need a counselor who is proactive. A proactive marriage counselor will give you practical tools. She will also have the skill to lead you to insight and understanding about the nature of your struggles. Being proactive means your counselor can help create an atmosphere which will optimize your chances of improving and saving your marriage.

Generally speaking, marriage problems are equally balanced between husband and wife, even though one spouse tends to feel it is more their spouse’s fault than theirs. This is normal and has to do with our general lack of objectivity…

This is the log and the splinter syndrome Jesus was talking about. It really does often take a third party to help diagnose the real problem. Now about diagnosing the problem…

In counseling you will want to begin to diagnose the problem. Why? Because you need to learn what you need to do differently (notice I didn’t say you need to learn what your spouse needs to do differently). You need more than just marriage advice, you also need to develop some goals and a plan for success. So how do we diagnose marriage problems…

It is done through an in-depth interview with the couple, sometimes over a series of sessions, both together and individually with your counselor. Another method your counselor may use is a series of inventories. These can provide a lot of helpful data for you and your counselor. They can also help you get a good grasp of the marriage problems relatively quickly.

The quicker the problems are identified the sooner you can get working on what’s really important, IMPROVING YOUR MARRIAGE! Good Christian marriage counseling will help you to identify and eliminate problems, and develop new skills. But most importantly, Christ centered marriage counseling will help you to live out the gospel of grace in your marriage every day.

Marriage counseling issues tend to run the gamut, but at the core there are some pretty general marriage problems that tend to be common to many couples.

Let me introduce you to some of these marriage problems...

Related Posts For You:

 

 

Biblical Counseling

Biblical CounselingHow does Biblical Counseling Work?

Much Bible based counseling is based on reflecting upon the nature and character of God as described in the Bible. Experience the transforming power of God’s word by experiencing what it means that YHVH “Keep in perfect peace those who’s minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Have you been struggling with issues for longer than you care to admit? Learn to identify negative thought patterns that are crucial to how you feel, act and relate to others. Learning to replace negative, ungodly thoughts with God’s truth is one of the keys to behavior change…

As a person’s mind is transformed we are better able to serve and worship God in greater measure. God’s word tells us that serving and worshiping Him is what we were created for…it is our destiny!

Serving and worshiping God is the only thing that truly satisfies our souls. As our mind is transformed we are released from overwhelming anxiety, depression and hopelessness. Through the transformation of our minds we will experience more happiness, joy and satisfaction. That’s the goal of Biblical counseling.

Additionally, a Biblically oriented therapist will help you discover and understand more about your true purpose in life. Understanding the reason you were created, is crucial to your sense of life satisfaction.

Through counseling based on the Word of God, couples will learn to love and understand each other better. This understanding flows first from a knowledge of your Creator’s intentions for your marriage. Additionally, in counseling, you will learn to improve communication and resolve conflicts. It’s all part of the process of developing a great marriage.

The process of Biblical Counseling involves:

  • Education about the attributes of God, how God works in our lives, and what it means to be created in His image
  • Learning and applying new skills based on scriptures
  • Identifying and repenting of sin
  • Rejecting ungodly ways of thinking and behaving
  • Working through issues of woundedness and forgiveness
  • Learning to trust more in Him rather than others or ourselves