Archive for April, 2011

Audio File — Porn Again: Guiding Couples Through the Initial Pain

How does a husband viewing pornography affect his wife? How does pornography relate to adultery? How and to whom should a wife share her pain and receive comfort? How does a husband protect and comfort his wife after his sin has hurt her? What are the do’s and don’ts for a wife after learning about pornography? What are the do’s and don’ts for a husband after he’s been caught or confesses?

Your pain is real, but so is the hope of the Gospel. In this presentation I seek to share how to address this sensitive subject without minimizing the sin or being paralyzed by the shame.

For the audio file click here.

For the written article from which the verbal presentation was based: PORN_MARRIAGE_article_Hambrick.

Save the Date: Robust Resources for Changed Lives

Where do you turn for in-depth, comprehensive, relational resources that equip you to speak the truth in love so we can all grow together in Christ? There are numerous great sources available in the Evangelical world today. Another cutting-edge resource is coming your way.

Save the date. On Monday, May 2, 2011, the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) (www.biblicalcounselingcoalition.org) will launch its Blog Site: Grace & Truth.

The first week, you can enjoy the following posts from leaders in the biblical counseling movement:

The BCC Blog Site will also include a list of Featured Blogs and a list of Recommended Websites. The BCC is not about the BCC. The BCC is about bc—biblical counseling—linking you to valuable resources, best-practice churches, premier para-church groups, and conferences you won’t want to miss.

Just the First-fruits

And this is just the first of several upcoming BCC “launches.”

In late May to early June, the BCC Book Review site will launch. Every week the BCC will post four biblical counseling book reviews. The site will also provide “The Best of Guides” (such as “The Top Ten Books on Biblical Counseling and Dealing with Anxiety”).

Then throughout the summer and on an ongoing basis, the BCC will launch the Free Resources section of the website. Eventually, the BCC plans to provide 1,000s of free articles, forms, counseling guides, videos, and audio resources.

Three Audiences

Every section of the BCC website will focus on three audiences:

  • People seeking biblical care: all of us—people in need of change.
  • People providing biblical care: pastors, counselors, spiritual friends.
  • People equipping biblical care-givers: educators, equippers, writers.

If you’d like to be placed on the BCC e-mailing list to hear more updates and receive periodic e-blasts and e-newsletters, sign-up on the BCC home page (www.biblicalcounselingcoalition.org).

Join the Conversation

  • What blog post topics would you like to see the BCC address?
  • What books would you like the BCC to review?
  • What free resource topics would you want the BCC to provide?

10 Pre-Marital Questions on Sex (Part 1)

This series of blogs comes from FAQ’s from the guys in Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry. They represent a conglomeration of questions from many different husbands-to-be during the Engaged Discovery Weekend. If you are interested in serving as a marriage mentor or are engaged, click here to learn more about Summit’s “Preparing for Marriage” ministry.

How do you transition from “sex is wrong” to “sex is right”? How do we move from shame into freedom? How do you transfer from guilt associated with sex to pleasure with sex?

It is important to remember that it is not sex that changes. We change when we get married. In that regard, marital sex is like getting your driver’s license. Before age 16, driving a car was wrong (illegal) whether you were good at it and loved the car or not. There was nothing immoral about driving itself. It was only “you” driving that was wrong. When you turned 16 your relationship to driving changed.

So ask yourself, “How did your perspective on driving change once you turned 16?” Chances are you still felt like you were “getting away with something really cool,” wanted to drive frequently, and day dreamed about all the places you could go (although you didn’t have the gas money for half the trips).

Similarly, when you get married sex may feel like you are “getting away with something really cool,” be something that you want to do frequently, and something that you cannot possibly do as much/well as you dream about in your imagination. That’s not bad. That is the natural transition that occurs when an activity moves from being not allowed to allowed; unavailable to available; anticipated to reality.

Admittedly, there is a difference in the general perspective on driving and sex. The association of guilt with driving is not commonly used to prevent under-aged driving like it is to prevent pre-marital sex. So while we may have made a similar mental/emotional transition before, the transition regarding our moral view of sex is more intense than the permissibility of driving.

In this case, I would invite you to read Acts 10:9-33. Here we have Peter, a devout Jewish man, who has been raised to view certain foods (and people) as unclean. God, by bringing Peter into the New Covenant, has lifted these food restrictions, but Peter is uncomfortable (even argumentative) with the transition. In the transition, there are several parts that are socially awkward (v. 25-28). But in the end, there was a greater appreciation for the Gospel that took the primary focus off of food or ethnic differences.

Again, we see parallels to the transition that is in front of newlywed couples. Christian convictions about sex had previously made sex wrong. God, by bringing the couple into the marriage covenant, lifts the restriction. But the couple may still feel a little awkward about the new freedom. Hopefully, however, the greater appreciation for the Gospel that emerges transcends the learning curve and emotional uneasiness that may exist. Use this quote from Ed Welch to help you with seeing the Gospel in the new freedom of sex.

“Our Christian task is to remember that every sexual union is profound.  It always points to the deeper union that we have with Christ by faith.  Sex mirrors the glory of God in the gospel.  It exists because it expresses God’s oneness with His people, His fidelity to us, His ownership of us, His self-sacrifice, and the pleasure we can take in this relationship… Sex is a good thing, there’s no question about that, but we don’t need sex.  Humanness, found in Jesus, is not defined by sexual intercourse.” Edward T. Welch in “The Apostle Paul: On Sex” The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Fall 2005).

I think we can take the example of Peter further on this topic. Peter’s understanding of the Gospel’s transformation of food and race was not final in Acts 10. Peter had times when he doubted this new freedom and fell back into his old mindset (Gal 2:11-14). As a newlywed couple your comfort and freedom in expressing love through sex without guilt may grow gradually; two steps forward, one step back.

The greatest grace that you can offer one another in this process is patience. It would be easy to grow selfish, angry, hurt, or defensive if you new spouse went through a spell of feeling morally uncomfortable with sex. In such moments, it is important not only to return to truth (you are now right for sex) but also to speak that truth with the heart of the Gospel (“I want to share in God’s good gift to us with you” vs. “You are keeping something from me that is rightfully mine”).

But that leads us into the, “How do you deal with times when you want sex and the other doesn’t?” questions, which will be discussed in an upcoming post. Does ending the blog like this make me a tease?

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Sex and Sexuality” post which address other facets of this subject.

One Mark of a Bad Man

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons – marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning  (p. 78-9).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

It usually takes a strong conviction to completely give something up. Convictions like this are usually forged in the midst of painful or life changing experiences: broken heart (marriage), considering cruelty to animals (meat), a broken home or personal addiction (beer), or a stark awakening to the glorification and promotion of moral evils (cinema). There are many more examples than the four Lewis listed.

The question naturally arises, “How could a good person be for what I am against?” Framed in the context of your personal experience, it is hard to imagine a form of “good” that does not coincide with your personal conviction.

In addition to context, there is the strength required to hold an enduring conviction that is contra-cultural. You must be willing to face and answer doubters and antagonists. You face being jeered and questioned. Answered are developed and refined because they are asked for often and are given in the face of opposition. The expectation is solidified that, “Those who are not with me are against me.”

It is not that much further to assume that, “If I am doing this to honor God, then those who are against me are also against God. God delivered me from something painful or awakened me to something dark. This person is not fleeing from that pain or darkness. They must be foolish or evil.”

While the experience and verbiage may vary, the formula remains consistent. Yet the pattern itself does not warrant Lewis’ moral evaluation – “bad man.” Why use the term bad instead of misguided, overly passionate, or socially awkward? Why not settle for being descriptive instead of joining these people in being judgmental? Is Lewis committing the same sin?

I do not believe he is. When we impose our personal conviction on others and use it to declare that God is for us and against those who do not follow our conviction, we are adding to the Gospel. We have begun to divide the “sheep” from the “wolves” on the basis of our emphasis within the teaching of Scripture (here giving the benefit of the doubt to these personal convictions).

It is much easier to identify these convictions in other people. When we experience such convictions in the lives of others, they make us feel uncomfortable, conversation becomes awkward, and we feel dismissed when we make “valid” points (again giving the benefit of the doubt).

But when the conviction is our own, we experience peace and safety within our parameters. Our conscience has only been trained to “ring” when our conviction is violated; not when our conviction ascends to an extra-biblical level.

If is for this reason that we must strive for humility and charity as we seek purity. Purity alone creates pride, exclusivity, and self-sufficiency. However, these reflections should not be taken to denounce strong convictions; only as a caution against be blinded by what we see most clearly.

A Practical Atheism Assessment

It can be hard to know and even harder to admit if I am living as a “practical atheist.” If I’m a nice guy (or girl) who doesn’t hurt anybody and tries to be fair, it seems awkward to think I am not living as if God existed. After all, doesn’t God want me to be nice and fair?

The 20 questions below are meant to describe what it looks like to live as a “practical atheist.” This term is not meant to be derogatory, but merely to capture what it looks like to live as if God’s existence or involvement is inconsequential to their daily life.

_____ When I do something wrong I try harder instead of repenting.

_____ I have to remind myself to pray outside of crisis times.

_____ My level of hope fluctuates strongly with my circumstances.

_____ I fear the future or get caught up in “what if” thinking.

_____ I demand to see justice when I have been wronged.

_____ I neglect reading my Bible, particularly when life is going well.

_____ My casual conversations rarely reference God or I feel embarrassed when they do.

_____ I take tomorrow (and today) for granted instead of viewing it as a gift.

_____ A primary motivation in my life is to please people and make everyone happy.

_____ When I meet new people I rarely consider if they are saved.

_____ I am more comfortable being friends or socializing with non-Christians.

_____ I do not avoid or try to avoid thinking about what is after death.

_____ I struggle to give cheerfully to God through His church.

_____ My parenting focuses on changing my child’s behavior more than their heart.

_____ My advice to family or friends rarely references God or the Bible.

_____ I tend to think that non-Christians are able to have more fun.

_____ I believe “time heals all wounds” instead of considering how God would redeem my suffering.

_____ I explain things as being “lucky” or I am superstitious.

_____ I take credit for good consequences and feel upset about bad consequences.

_____ I expect my close relationships (spouse, kids, parents) to be able to keep me happy.

There is not a scale for this evaluation. If we try to develop a scale for our awareness of God, then the authentic worship of living continually in the awareness of God degenerates into legalism. Instead of “scoring” this assessment, look at each item you checked and consider it as revealing another opportunity to experience God in the details of life.

If you checked a significant majority of the items, examine whether you have ever truly embraced the Gospel and, thereby, truly know God. Have you viewed your life as desperately needing Jesus’ death to pay for your sin and His resurrection to purchase new life? Have you surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, committing to follow His teaching and doing whatever He calls you to do? If the answer is no, we at The Summit would love to talk with you about the hope of Christ available to you.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Theology and Counseling” post which address other facets of this subject.

How Can I Be a Part of Summit’s Counseling Ministry?

I have been encouraged (and, admittedly, slightly overwhelmed) by the number of people who have expressed interest in serving through the counseling ministry. Until now I have had to say, “We are still working on the vision and infrastructure of the counseling ministry.” But now the wait is over.

We will be launching the first lay leader training in May (specific dates and times below; location Brier Creek South). This training will focus primarily upon equipping existing and potential Freedom Group leaders. However, the first two nights will be foundational for anyone wanting to participate in the counseling ministry. If you are interested in attending, please complete the RSVP form link at the end of this post.

Ministry Model

The counseling ministry will present subject-based seminars through the EQUIP series. The first seminar will be on anger and presented this June. These seminars will present an overview of the subject matter and be posted on the EQUIP blog in video format. Each seminar will come with a notebook containing personal evaluation tools, Bible studies, and a guided process to overcome the subject matter. These materials will be the curriculum for Freedom Groups and personal mentors to utilize.

Leader Training

The mentoring process requires leaders to know more than their subject matter (i.e., anger curriculum). Mentoring also requires an understanding of your role as a mentor, the process/resources being used, and the limits of the mentor role. These subjects are the focus of the leader training.

Night One (Vision): “Eyes” of the Counseling Ministry – (Tuesday May 10, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00) The presentation will cover two subjects. (1) The core values of the counseling ministry: Bible-based, Gospel-centered, differentiating sin and suffering, not one-size-fits-all, embedded within the church, and transitioning into the general small group ministry. Leaders need to understand how these values are embedded throughout the counseling materials. (2) How to avoid a struggle-based identity when using a struggle-specific curriculum.

“Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside the story of redemption (p. 27)… In fact, the longer we struggle with a problem, the more likely we are to define ourselves by that problem (divorced, addicted, depressed, co-dependent, ADD). We come to believe that our problem is who we are. But while these labels may describe particular ways we struggle as sinners [or sufferers] in a fallen world, they are not our identity! If we allow them to define us, we will live trapped within their boundaries. This is no way for a child of God to live (p. 260)!” Paul Tripp in Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand

Night Two (Process): “Heart” of the Counseling Ministry – (Tuesday May 17, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:30) The big question on this night is, “How does the Gospel relate to sin and suffering differently?” The struggles of life fit into one of these two categories: sin or suffering. The Gospel speaks to and is powerful to redeem/restore both experiences. But unless we understand the difference, our efforts to help will often come across cliché or simplistic. On this evening we will walk through the two nine step process models that will undergird the seminars that will comprise the mentoring and Freedom Group curriculum. Our goal for each of the nine step processes is that they merely represent “the Gospel in slow motion.”

Night Three (Logistics): “Hands” of Freedom Groups – (Tuesday May 24, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00) This evening will be focused more exclusively upon Freedom Group leaders, although all leaders are welcome to attend to learn more about how the seminars and curriculum can be utilized. We will examine what the journey of Freedom Groups will look like from the visitor’s first day through the meeting schedule and individuals’ responsibilities to the launch of new groups.

If you are interested in participating in the counseling ministry (as a Freedom Group leader or personal mentor), please email counseling@summitrdu.com.

Living Beyond Seventy Years

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if am going to live for ever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse—so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct term for what it would be (p. 74).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When some people are warned about the effects of smoking or overeating upon their health, they reply with some version of, “Let me die happy.” Honestly, that is hard logic to penetrate; even when loved ones (spouse or children) are pleading their case out of a loving desire for more years to share together.

The logic is, “I’d rather have 60 years of life that I really enjoy than 70 years of life that I moderately enjoy.” The only two apparent places left to go in the argument is excessive guilt or hyper-personalization. Either we declare the action a major moral failure (on par with slow methodical self-murder with malice aforethought), or we make the action a betrayal of our relationship (on par with adultery).

The point of this blog is not to condemn gluttony or the willful consumption of a recreational carcinogenic. However, I do want to expand our ability to discuss sins that “don’t hurt anybody else.” What do we say when someone looks at the temporal cost of their unwise living and likes the deal they’re getting?

I believe C.S. Lewis provides a third way (between guilt and personalization) to broach these conversations. When someone likes the deal their sin offers, then “I can stop any time I want to” is not even relevant. What has been established is that the individual does not want to stop. They are willing to sacrifice their self for their pleasure.

Rather than following God by “dying to self” to gain life (Luke 9:23-24) they are willing to follow Satan in “killing self” to gain temporal pleasure (John 10:10). Once you are willing to trade life for your pleasure of choice what is left to get worse? There is no longer any reason to say, “I’ll quit when it gets bad enough,” when you’ve already given the most valuable thing you have.

The only question left is, “When will it end?” The person who says, “Let me die happy,” assumes the progression will end when we die. Lewis gives a different, more sobering, perspective on death. He pictures death, not as the moment when everything stops, but as the moment whenever God concedes to give you whatever you wanted most. Death is when we get what we were willing to die for.

This view of death makes happiness a much weightier thing. No longer is happiness the mere expression of personal preference; it is the attempt to define eternity. If we chose correctly, then our pleasure will be the beginning of Heaven. If we chose wrongly, then our happiness will be the beginning of Hell.

Choose wisely. A bad choice in happiness is like putting bad brakes on an expensive sports car. The engine and steering will take you exactly where you want to go, but there is no way to stop the machine. You will continue to go in the same direction and it will be your destruction.

The Prodigal’s Non-Codependent Father

It is easy to read the Parable of the Prodigal Son and come away with a very bad parenting strategy for rebellious children. Some might read the parable and think, “If God the Father gives his child everything he asked for (Luke 15:12), then I should to.”

That may sound far-fetched at first, but throw in a little parental guilt, child persuasiveness, and life too busy to think things through, and it is easier to fall into than you might think. “It’s just this one time… What good is my stuff, if my children don’t like me… It’s going to be theirs anyway… It is easier than listening to them whine… I want my children to be happy.” Sound or feel familiar?

However, I think there is a more dangerous parenting strategy that is often extracted from this passage. More dangerous for two reasons: first, because most parents (at least those who want to) can see through the first error. But second, because the second error happens at the point of return. The second error sabotages repentance and, therefore, leaves the child trapped in their folly even when the alarms of reality have awakened them (15:17).

The second error sees God the Father running to the prodigal (15:20) and mistakes this for rescuing the prodigal from his sin. The misguided parent sees the compassion of God and thinks they are mirroring His grace when they rescue their child from the consequences of their sin. They hear the Father not allowing the prodigal to even finish his repentance (15:21-22) and do not require repentance before they begin going the extra mile to make things “normal” again.

Let’s consider the parable to understand why it does not teach us to respond this way. First, the parable is a parable. A parable exists to teach a single point. It is not an allegory which teaches many points. This parable is not about parenting. It is confrontation of self-righteousness that does not allow us to rejoice when those “beneath us” are embraced by God.

Second, (admittedly, violating the previous point) the Father does not chase after the prodigal. In the previous two parables the God-character does seek after the lost coin and lost sheep. But these are inanimate or witless things. The son is willfully lost and the Father knows that as long as the prodigal sees sin as beautiful, seeking to make things “normal” is futile. The Father’s running is not rescue, but merely a demonstration of joy at repentance (the point of the parable).

Third, the prodigal does come to a full repentance. The Father’s interrupting is not omitting this vital component of change. Rather, it demonstrates that it is not the son’s eloquence, emotion, or manipulation that wooed the Father, but repentance itself that released His forgiveness.

If we learn any parenting principles from this passage, it would be the following. (1) A parent should be willing to receive back a repentant child regardless of their sin. (2) A parent should pray diligently and longingly for a wayward child to wake up to the damage of their sin. (3) Waiting for this waking can be a painfully long wait that allows the child to experience great need (15:14).

These same principles apply to most relationships where love would compel us to try to rescue someone from their sin before they release their sin. These comments should not be taken to advise  restraint in speaking the truth in love or to show general forms of expression. They are merely meant to be a warning not to take this example of God’s grace as a precedent for thinking that love which compromises truth will lead to lasting change.

Bible Verses on Blended Families

Effective Biblical Counseling can never be reduced to the question, “What does the Bible say about [topic]?” Both life and counseling require more than having the right answer to a question. Counseling (or Christian friendship that seeks to embody the “one another” commands of the New Testament) is when one person joins another on his/her journey to cultivate more of the fruit of the Spirit in his/her life by overcoming some life struggle.

What you find below should be considered the “map” for this journey. God’s Word helps us see both where we are (stuck in sin and/or suffering) and where we want to be. The Summit counseling ministry hopes you find both direction and encouragement for your journey in these passages.

This list is updated periodically.

The church is a blended family.

Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

It took the cross of Christ to bring unity in God’s blended family.

Ephesians 2:13-21, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

God receives great glory when there is unity in the midst of diversity.

Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

God used many blended families in great ways to advance His kingdom. God was faithful to guide these families through the unique struggles they faced in their family dynamics.

Example: The Life of Abraham – Genesis 12-25

Example: The Life of David – I Samuel 16-II Samuel 24

Jesus faced the social awkwardness that can arise from being in a blended family.

Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  [Calling Jesus the “son of Mary” would have been an insult pointing out that Joseph was not his biological father.]

Other Topics to Consider: Adoption, Communication, Decision Making, Divorce, Family Life, Grief, Guilt, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Teen Issues

If I Simply Belonged to Myself

h2>A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“If somebody else made me, for his own purposes, then I shall have a lot of duties which I should not have if I simply belonged to myself (p. 74).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Being made” implies a whole other level of belonging than merely “giving myself” to someone. I belong to my wife, but I chose her (at least after the second blind date). I belong to my children, but again, I chose to have them (even if I didn’t know who they would be). In each case, I am the sovereign one giving myself away.

God made me. I had no choice or influence in the matter. I did not even have the mind or will by which I would have cast my vote until after I was created. The use of the word “my” when I say “my life” is one of the most peculiar usages of the possessive pronoun “my.” Maybe the only comparable usages are “my parents” and “my God.”

In both cases it is the other that has a claim on me, but my language inverses the relationship and their love allows it. Because of my parents’ love, I was able to continue making other my-statements: my room, my brother, or my dog.  It was only out of the love of that relationship, that I was allowed to get away with such a larceny.

But even as I said those statements so often and believed them to be so true, I was offended when my parents made the slightest expectation of stewardship: clean your room, share with your brother, or feed your dog. I wanted ownership without obligation.

This seems to parallel with God and my life. God blesses me with something I have no ability to provide or sustain for myself. God allows me to call it my own. But when God places the slightest expectation of stewardship upon me, I balk.

I don’t want to love my neighbor as myself. I don’t want to be limited by rest, exercise, or diet. I don’t want to sacrifice my life in uncomfortable ways for some greater purpose. Pretty soon I sound like the teenager who says, “This is my room and I’ll paint the walls and ceiling black with lime green stripes if I golly well want to!”

I start to try to express my rights over something in which I am allowed to live but belongs to another – namely “my” life. When I cry out to God, “I know what you’re asking but it’s too much. This is my life and I will do with it what I please. You’re just being controlling,” then I have become the ungrateful, irrational teenager.

Even as I write this and reflect on the implications, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. It takes the old adage “life is a gift” to a whole other level. I had been assuming that gift meant something that became my exclusive possession over which the giver renounced all claims. I was assuming that I was God’s birthday present to me back in 1977.

God has given me life, but has not renounced all claims on the gift. Like the rest of creation, I was made to give Him glory and am subject to the “rules of the house.” With my parents, I grew up and pursued my own independent life. But with God, I do not mature beyond His care and provide my own reality in which to live. That is humbling, but when I quit resisting it, peace giving.