If you grew up in a home with divorced parents,
would you say your parents’ divorce helped or hurt your relationship with the
Lord? Would you be surprised to find out
that studies are beginning to reveal that, in general, children of divorced
parents are less religious when they grow up?
While I’ve often considered the effect divorce has on our generation
when it comes to marriage, cohabitation and our own divorce rate, I hadn’t
stopped to consider that divorce could be a predictor of faith and church
We have learned that when children
of divorce reach adulthood, compared to those who grew up in intact families,
they feel less religious on the whole and are less likely to be involved in the
regular practice of a faith. In one national study, two-thirds of people from married parent families, compared to just over
half of children of divorce, say
they arevery or fairly religious,
and more than a third of people from married parent families currently attend
religious services almost every week, compared to just a quarter of people from
Those are sobering statistics. They indicate that our parents’ successes and
failures in their marriage have a direct impact on how we view God. If we go back to Scripture, perhaps these
studies shouldn’t be a surprise. God
repeatedly uses marriage as a glorious, earthly example of spiritual truths. In the Old Testament, the relationship
between God and the nation of Israel is repeatedly described in marriage
terms: God as the faithful husband and
Israel as the adulterous wife (Hosea).
In the New Testament, we’re given the picture of Christ and His bride
(the church) as another marriage picture.
As we start to realize the significance of how God views
marriage, it follows that if we get marriage wrong, there will be long-term
consequences. The effects of the last
several decades — no-fault divorce, increased cohabitation, radical feminism,
and the idea that “love is all you need” — have led our culture to a place that
radically devalues marriage. When
divorce is treated as a viable and often sought-after “solution” to marriage
problems, we begin to see how far this is from the high view God takes of
marriage. Without a high standard of
marriage, it becomes clear why subsequent generations not only lose a positive
perspective on marriage, but on God himself.
But before you succumb to the depressing idea that divorce
predetermines your religious involvement, there is good news for children of
divorce. A smaller sub-group of the million
children that experience divorce each year find themselves more committed to their faith than those who grew up with intact
families. In the loss and suffering of
divorce, they turn to God for hope and healing.
So while one's childhood experience of divorce can be a
predictor of how he or she views God, God is also in the business of redemption. Regardless of how intact your family was
growing up, our Healer and Redeemer is able to use the good and bad experiences
for His glory.
For as long as I can remember, my intention has been that once I marry and have children, I'd like to stay home and serve my family full time. So when I went to college, I chose a major in communications because I thought writing and editing would be a fun thing to do until marriage and family came along. Working as an editor was (and is, Lord willing) meant to be a temporary plan to pay the bills until I have a husband to take the role of primary financial provider.
On the flipside, I've sometimes wondered what it must be like for men to choose a career path. As you hope and plan to support a family one day, did you take that desire into consideration when you chose what to do after high school? Do you feel responsible to pursue something with high earning potential and where workers are in high demand? What do you think of taking on the role of provider for your future family? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
NOTE: The re-launch of Boundless.org is coming soon! If you are used to accessing our podcast via this blog, you
will need to sign up for the podcast RSS feed as new shows will no longer be
added to the blog, but rather to the Boundless website itself. This change will allow for better integration of the podcast
throughout the rest of Boundless.org.
And now, for this week's show...
Preparing to Provide for a Family -- 01:26
What constitutes being financially stable enough
to get married? What kind of job really provides for a
family? What exactly does "provide" mean? In this discussion, three husbands and fathers discuss how young men can prepare now to take on the role of provider for their future families.
How to Discover Your Calling -- 27:48
Gary Baralow, author of It's Your Call, rejects the notion that "callings" are
reserved only for those in church ministry. Drawing from over 20
years of personal and professional study, he encourages others to walk in
God's process of revealing, restoring and releasing the "brilliance of
your life." In this segment Gary describes how to find what you love and then do it.
My Boyfriend's Freeloading Roommate -- 52:06
Her boyfriend's roommate is unemployed, collecting
unemployment, not looking for a job and doesn't pay anything to expenses. He eats her boyfriend's food, drives his car, lives there rent free and
doesn't show any gratitude. What's the Christian response? Counselor James Groesbeck shares some advice.
The re-launch of Boundless.org is coming soon, and we can't
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If you have an iPhone or Android, our new mobile site will allow you to stay up to date on all our latest content wherever you are, including listening to the newest episode of The Boundless Show.
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You will be able to search for and listen to podcast
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segments available first then add more down the road.
Seven years ago, Boundless began answering readers'
questions in our Boundless Answers
column. These Q&As had titles like any other article, but now they will all
be labeled with a summary of the question being asked. For example, "How
do you show a girl you're interested without pushing too much?" or
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Currently, our website, blog and podcast all have different
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now, if you haven't already!)
About This Blog
With the re-launch of Boundless.org, this blog will move to a different platform to better
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If you are used to accessing our podcast via this blog, you
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Over the past few weeks, I have grown to enjoy the TV show "The Amazing
Race." My delight started with an interest in where the contestants
traveled and the challenges that awaited them at each location. My husband and
I act as if we are in the game — deciding who would do what and give play-by-play
maneuvers of how we would complete the tasks. But recently, I realized how
interesting/entertaining it is to watch the communication within the two person
teams. Father-son, best friends, hockey buds, newlyweds, etc., are all thrown
into extreme circumstances involving critical thinking, physical exhaustion and
just plain weird things they have no experience doing. In these moments,
tempers flare, emotions explode, and the relationships’ true colors shine
This past Sunday I watched the couples in amazement. They all had a sense of
respect for each other in the thickest moments, except for one pair — the
newlyweds. The challenge was to zigzag a race car around several orange cones,
switch drivers and repeat the course — all in less than 83 seconds. The pairs
encouraged and cheered as their partners attempted the slippery course. Most
didn’t have too hard of a time, except for the newlyweds. And boy, did the
camera love the arguments that went on in that car. The young couple couldn’t
quite make the required time on the supposedly “manly” challenge. Each time the
husband would get behind the wheel, nothing but venom escaped his new bride’s
“You suck at this! Aren’t you supposed to be good at driving?”
“Ugh, you keep fishtailing.”
“Who would have thought? The girl is doing better than the guy.”
“You are killing us!”
Finally, they completed the course in 83 seconds.
No hugs or congratulatory kisses.
“Ugh, everyone is going to be so far ahead of us!”
I realize it is only a game, a game where everything is magnified and
glorified by the cameras in the contestants' faces, but my heart broke for the
man whose self-esteem was crushed by his bride on national television. I don’t wish
to speak into a marriage I know very little about, but her verbal daggers
revealed an easily ignored norm portrayed in our culture — bossy know-it-all
wives, disrespecting and crushing their husbands' leading spirits.
As a new wife, I have been there. I have said those words and watched my
husband’s shoulders fall. Little jabs and undercuts seem harmless and necessary
in my mind, but when they escape my mouth, I realize instantly the words said
only tell my husband I don't trust or respect him. It isn’t easy being a
submissive wife, but it is rewarding. It is how God created us to be, and He
knows we will truly thrive as couples when we choose to act according to His
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if
any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the
behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate
hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should
be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy
women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They
submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and
called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not
give way to fear (1 Peter 3:1-6).
If you are single, I challenge you to meditate on this passage and prepare
your heart for the future. If you are a woman, begin by showing honor and
respect to the men in your life now. Wit and humor are entertaining, but ensure
your words aren’t damaging others around you.
If you are engaged or seriously dating, go on a coffee date
with your significant other and discuss these passages: 1
Peter 3:1-6, Ephesians 5:22-23, Matthew 19:4-6 and Colossians 3:18-19. Ask each other what you believe these
passages mean and how you can begin building your relationship on these
principles. Believe me, it will make your transition to marriage an easier one.
True love cannot be expressed without true honor and respect. Don’t let the
media paint your picture of marriage; instead, fight the “norm” of
disrespect. Find a married couple who does this well, and spend time with
them. You will quickly see the fruits of their marriage and how God’s
instructions are not bias, but beautiful.
When most of us hear the word prejudice, we think first of a negative attitude toward groups of people, often based on race. With that in mind, we also may think of it as an attitude held mainly by other people, not ourselves (since we, naturally, deplore that attitude).
But there's much more to prejudice than that, as one of my pastors pointed out in a recent sermon. And when we understand it more broadly, the first place we should look to find it is in the mirror.
Prejudice, he noted, isn't merely an attitude toward a group of people based on (say) race, though that's one kind. And it isn't at all what the world today says it is: taking a moral stand on sexuality and the nature of marriage. Prejudice, rather, is exactly what the word's component parts say it is: pre-judging — forming an opinion without having all the information you need.
I've had the same thoughts. Prejudice often targets not a member of a group, but an individual. You see or hear something about someone you don't know all that well, and from then on, you're predisposed to assume he's in the wrong. You may not even have first-hand information about him: You're going off something someone else said, adopting their opinions — or the grudges — as your own. You don't try very hard to get the other side(s) of the story. You don't reserve judgment in recognition of your limited knowledge. It's easier to think the worst — especially if your friends already do.
The problem with all this is not that we make judgments per se. We must make some judgments — assessments of character, evaluations of right and wrong. Nor is the problem that we form preliminary impressions of people. Incomplete information (sometimes even when it's second-hand) isn't the same thing as irrelevant information. Early on, we may see some red flags that are worth heeding. Our preliminary impressions may turn out, in the end, to be pretty much right.
But prejudice isn't willing to wait for the end. It's not interested in due process: It races ahead to the verdict. More than that, it typically takes satisfaction in that verdict (invariably "guilty"). It's the old game of specks and logs (Matthew 7:3-5): We focus on someone else's sins and deficiencies — real or imagined — to distract us from focusing on our own. That's our fallen nature at work in us.
When Christians must make judgments, the nature of the new man should prevail — finding fault only regretfully, not eagerly; patient and loving; not wearing blinders, but putting the best construction on everything. That's the Spirit of our Redeemer at work in us.
There have been a number of articles appearing lately that highlight a
serious and growing problem for our nation, and we are not alone. Nearly every
other nation in the world is facing it, too, and to a much greater degree than
the United States.
Recently, the birthrate has fallen just below replacement level in the
United States, meaning that each woman bears 2.1 children, enough to replace
herself, her husband and the curious .1 baby just to grow the population a tad.
From Europe to East Asia, from Canada to Chile, birth rates around the world
have fallen below what is needed to avoid population and economic decline. So
how does the number of babies affect economic well-being for a nation?
The next generation of teachers, business owners, community leaders,
doctors, health-care providers, inventors, farmers, tax-payers and consumers
always come to us in the form of babies. And it is required that the previous
generation be very intentional about birthing and raising them.
Psalm 127:3-5 is not just a spiritual truth, but also an economic and
Children are a heritage
from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a
warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is
full of them.
In more than 75 countries around the world (and all developed countries),
fertility is well below replacement level which is needed to maintain a
nation’s workforce at current levels. The average woman living in a developed
nation will give birth to only 1.66 children in her lifetime. That’s 21 percent
below the fertility level needed to sustain a current population over time. The
number of children ages 0-14 is 60.6 million less in the developed
world today than it was in 1965.
And the people born in the '50s and '60s are living longer than the
generations before them. We have fewer of the younger, more of the older. And
fear of overpopulation has no foundation. At the earth’s present capacity of 7
billion people, each of them could stand within the boundaries of the United States'
smallest state — Rhode Island — with just enough room to swing their arms
around and only occasionally hit someone else. These seven billion could live
within the borders of Texas with the same population density tolerated by the
inhabitants of New York City today! Too many people is not cause for fear. Too
Over the next 40 years, the United Nations predicts that 53 percent of the
world’s population growth will come from increases in people over 60, while
only 7 percent will come from people under 30. These data are assisted by two
recent technological developments: widely used and affordable birth control, and
medical treatments decreasing death and illness such as penicillin. This
decline of the young populations and the expansion of the old is a deeply
unhealthy economic trajectory. And of course, the answer for a compassionate
society is not to hasten the departure of the aged as a government
leader in Japan recently declared.
It is to increase, encourage and welcome the birth of young.
The Economic Implications of Fewer Babies
Powerhouses like Japan and China are poised to see their workers shrink by
20 percent from now until 2050, because of persistently low fertility and an
ever aging population. This has been happening in Japan for some time, and has
significantly curbed their economic growth behind China. China’s days as an
economic powerhouse are limited for this very reason.
In terms of economic viability of a nation based on fertility, a 2011 RAND
report explains, “China’s prospects may be hindered by its aging population,
while India will have more favorable demographics than China” because India is
anticipated to surpass China in population by 2025. In fact, India is likely to
capitalize on their demographic advantage more powerfully than China did.
The lesson here is that nations wishing to enjoy economic growth and a
viable welfare state over the long-term must maintain fertility rates high
enough to avoid shrinking workforces and rapidly aging populations. It is a
In fact, a recent report by Morgan Stanley explains that a country’s larger
proportion of older citizens relative to its shrinking proportion of younger
citizens may now be a more important indicator of its likelihood to default on
its debt payments than the actual size of the debt itself. Consider this
in terms of a household budget. A home has $25,000 of credit card debt and only
one employed person who earns $40,000 annually. Not a good debt risk. But
consider if that home carrying that much debt had six people each earning only
$30K annually. A very different, manageable debt situation. Apply that same
dynamic to a nation’s debt. New people matter.
Global economics are largely driven by national demographics — the growth
and age distribution of its people — finding the proper balance between those
just starting their lives and those approaching their twilight.
This is a deeply human and Christian reality. And its converse is tragically
seen in the growing secularization of too many nations. The greatest way a
generation can serve its nation is by giving birth to and raising the next
generation, and raising it well. Each nation ignores this demographic truth to
their own peril.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the Holz household. Two
Saturdays ago, we were celebrating my wife’s birthday at her parents’ house. By
the time we left, I wasn’t feeling so hot. Actually, scratch that — I was feeling
really hot, as in feverish. Came
home, went to bed, woke up two hours later with a 102 degree fever and feeling
like someone had replaced all my bodily fluids with concrete.
By Monday, the fever was creeping toward 104 degrees ... high
enough to make me wonder, I think I’ve
got the flu. I trip to the doctor confirmed it. I, the only person who didn’t
get a flu shot in my family, had Influenza A. The only upside was that I lost
about 12 pounds in the next five days. The downside? My wife and two daughters
were soon sick, too. The fact that they’d had
their shots meant they were marginally
less miserable than me. Still, four people in a house with Influenza is a recipe
for exquisite misery ... especially when you start having arguments about who’s
most miserable. (That would have been me, but no one really wanted to hear that.)
While none of us were life-threateningly sick, I did at some
foggy, feverish point reflect on the ol’ “sickness and health” marriage-vow clause.
When you speak your vows on your wedding day, the whole sickness part of the
deal is a bit of an abstraction. But with almost all of my family sick for the
last two weeks (only Henry dodged it), I’ve realized anew that sooner or later,
that part of our marriage vows is going to get tested. And marriage will
increasingly be tested as the years pile on by other stresses, too. In those
moments, holy matrimony doesn’t always feel particularly fulfilling. It feels, well,
hard. Which is why the vow to stay married, to keep working on it, to stay
faithful no matter what is so important — because those vows will be tested. In
other words, marriage takes work if it’s to endure the inevitable hard points.
That message was reaffirmed in a surprising context earlier
this week: the Oscars. Accepting his Best Picture award for producing (and
starring in) the movie Argo, Ben
Affleck rambled through a surprisingly honest speech in which he thanked his
wife, actress Jennifer Garner, for her support. “I want to thank my wife,” he
said, “who I don’t normally associate with Iran [the location where most of Argo takes place]. I want to thank you
for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good. It is work, but it’s
the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”
Often, Hollywood is guilty of making happily ever after look
deliriously easy. Real love, many movies tell us, should be spontaneous and
effortless, an effervescent, ever-present reality. And if at any point those
feelings begin to fade, we’re subtly tempted to think it means that love wasn’t
true in the first place. In a refreshing contrast, Affleck acknowledged
reality: that a good marriage takes work. While some wondered if his admission
was somehow inappropriate or even dishonoring of his wife, other observers
noted that we could do with more of such honesty from influential celebrities. I
especially appreciated what Salon.com
writer Mary Elizabeth Williams had to say.
What Affleck did in that short speech — and the reason it
was so surprising — is that he tore the veil off the perpetually sunny image we
tend to carry around of everybody else’s couplehood. Unless the cops are
getting called regularly for domestic disturbances, there’s an assumption of
tranquil ease around other people’s relationships. Look at those two, in their
Facebook album from their vacation, we think, They seem to really have it figured out!
Williams then continued her exploration of the challenges that
marriages face through the years:
It’s easy in the beginning. As Chris Rock once explained,
in the early part of a relationship, you’re not really dating each other —
you’re dating each other’s ambassadors. You’re your best, sexiest, most novel
selves. Then eventually the other sides begin to emerge — the imperfections and
annoying habits and emotional baggage. Then, after all that, if you’re lucky
enough to have what a friend calls mutually compatible neuroses, you’re going
to go through experiences together, things that will require you to look at
each other not just as breathless lovers. Sometimes, it’s really horrible
stuff, like financial disaster and disease and addiction and grief and
deployment and violence and crushing disappointment. Sometimes, it’s great
stuff that nevertheless tests how you see and relate to each other — success,
children, travel. And often, it’s just the unromantic, mundane business of
Like many things in life, just because a relationship is
good doesn’t mean it doesn’t take ... a lot of effort. In fact, the effort is the
good part. The lovely, wedding day dream that love is enough and you’ll always
feel perfect and splendid forever is just that — a dream. The day-to-day can be
boring and irritating and yet often, in the midst of all it, that’s exactly
when you feel most deeply at home within each other. And maybe someday, when
your mate is at your mom’s for Thanksgiving or accepting an Academy Award for
best picture, he’ll start acting in a way that’s weird and makes people
uncomfortable. That’s when you think, oh, right. That’s what I love about him.
That was a good reminder for me this week. Something I know
and agree with, but still a reality I can easily lose track of when my fever
tops out at 104 ... and someone else needs me
to get them a warm sippy cup of milk anyway to help them get to sleep.
Years from now, historians will look back at our day and observe — among other things — the disproportionate amount of time we spent commuting
to work. I’m blessed that my commute is only about 15
minutes each way (depending on traffic), but I know many whose daily traverse eats up hours each day. I’ve recently been convicted that these hours should not be squandered
away, but can and should be exploited. Your morning commute can become a very productive part of your daily routine.
Here are a few suggestions for improving your commute:
If you’re like me, there just aren’t enough hours in the day
to read everything you want to. I’ve started taking advantage of several inexpensive
(and even free) ways to listen to great books. I once listened to half of
Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on the
drive into the mountains. Another time, I listened to Dostoevsky’s 800-page
classic The Brother’s Karamozov in
about three weeks during my daily commute.
Most public libraries now have audiobooks on CD you can check
out for free. I’ve recently discovered the iPhone app OverDrive. With it, you can download eAudiobooks right to your phone and listen for up to 21 days. I’ve also
downloaded several free, montly audiobooks from Christianaudio.com. There are also inexpensive audiobooks available at PaperBackSwap, a great resource for any book lover.
2. Podcasts, Sermons, Classes and Teachings
I also regularly use my iPod to listen to sermons, teachings,
courses and podcasts that are specific to areas in which I want to grow. You
can use your commute to sharpen yourself vocationally and socially, as well as spiritually.
Consider areas of your life you’d like to grow, and look for resources you might
be able to listen to. Personally, I’m always looking for wisdom on interpersonal
communication, leadership, teaching and writing, and I have discovered several
Keep an Audio Bible in your car and listen to the Scriptures.
I prefer the ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible. This has been a great
aide to my study and teaching. I was once teaching a class on James at church
and listened to the book upwards of 20 times as part of my preparation. It
was a pretty easy way to become very familiar with the book. I recently committed
to a focused study of the Prophets. I’m going to start it by listening through a few times. Reading through the Prophets feels daunting. Listening to
them feels much less daunting.
The daily commute can be a good time to pray over your day.
I spend many mornings praying over my deadlines and projects. It's amazing how
quickly prayer can disarm worries and anxieties. Many blog ideas and solutions
to problems I’m dealing with have come to me during a prayerful commute. Coincidence?
I think not. (Disclaimer: Boundless strongly recommends driving with your eyes
As a general rule, our lives are too noisy. Some avoid the uneasiness
of silence altogether, but we are wise to remember silence has long been considered
a valuable spiritual discipline. I don’t do silence well or as frequently as I
should. But I do recognize that regular times of silence are beneficial. Take a
morning once and a while, and spend a portion of your commute in silence.
There are certainly other productive ways to optimize your
commute, but most will find a little intentionality goes a long way. If there
are audiobooks, podcasts, sermons, classes or other resources you’ve recently
benefited from, please recommend them below. I’m always looking for new resources to
add to my own commute queue.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee. And at once, they left their nets and followed him (Mark 1:16-18).
I admire these two fishermen's quick response. If it were me in the boat, I
don't know if I would have been as brave. I may have asked, "Well, where are you going?" because I may or may not want to come along.
The one detail Jesus gave these brothers was that He would make them fishers of men — whatever that meant — and they immediately went.
There is no figure in the Bible who received full instructions for
his life's choices, no one for whom the future wasn't a mystery.
Patriarchs, prophets and priests, monarchs, martyrs and magi — they all
had to walk in close step with God.... Godly men and women had to trust God and stay close to Him.
When Simon and Andrew dropped their nets, they didn't know they would one day play a part in the biggest event in history. They just followed, and their lives were forever changed. On this week's show, we take a look at Jesus' invitation to come, follow Him.
Walking by Faith -- 00:00
The life of a believer is not all sunshine and roses. Following Christ is a journey of twists and turns and waiting on God. Listen in as Nathan Hoobler, Galen Call, Lisa and I discuss our faith journeys and what it means to be Jesus' disciple.
Follow Me -- 21:11
Pastor and author David Platt has a lot of challenging things to say to those who call themselves believers, which is why this is our third time having him on the podcast (see Episodes 213 and 124). This time we discuss his new book Follow Me: A Call to Live. A Call to Die. He'll challenge you to take the command to make disciples seriously keep it a priority in your life.
Breaking Up Well -- 50:20
How can a person end a relationship well? Focus counselor James Groesbeck answers this listener's question in the Inbox segment.
It was one of those dreams where everything was moving in
slow motion. I was running late and couldn’t get my car to go over 5 mph on my
way to work. I was frantic because I had received a call from my boss asking me
about a book that was going on-sale today, and I hadn’t done anything to
publicize it. I had forgotten it was assigned to me, and I was panicking. Then
my alarm clock woke me up, and I realized it was just a dream ... or more accurately, a nightmare. Work had
started invading my sleeping hours along with my waking hours. I was failing at
finding the work/life balance, and unless something changed, I was in for more
Part of being a young adult means starting full-time work
and learning to balance the 40 (or more) hours you spend at work with the rest
of the hours in the week. And while different jobs require different working
schedules, and even different seasons where the workload is heavier or lighter
(hello accountants during tax season!), I think we all can agree that when our
work/life gets out of balance, both parts suffer.
But is the
struggle different for singles in the workplace? With the average marrying age
continuing to increase, bosses and HR policies will have to adjust. In this
Employees Want ‘Work-Life’ Balance, Too,” the author writes that “A growing number of workers who are single and without
children have trouble finding the time or energy to participate in non-work
interests, just like those with spouses and kids, new research suggests.” While
workplaces have traditionally offered work/family programs to help working
parents balance their work responsibilities with family priorities, what about
the single folks who don’t have those same priorities? And often those family
priorities are something single folks long to have.
Take, for example,
an employee who is single and without children and wants to leave work early to
train for a triathlon, Ryan says. Should that employee have any less right to
leave early than the one who wants to catch her child’s soccer game at 4 p.m.?
is one more valued than the other?’ Ryan says. ‘We have to recognize that
non-work roles beyond family also have value.’
Childlessness among employees has
been increasing in the United States, particularly among female managers, the
study notes. Further, a large portion of employees today are single and live
I hear singles sometimes complaining
that they’re often volunteered for things at church because they’re single and
people often (wrongly) assume that they must have more time to be involved in
the absence of a spouse and kids. I wonder if bosses often assume the same
thing about their single workers. Is there a difference between how workplaces
view the work/life balance for married-with-kids folks and singles? Should
there be? How have you learned to balance work and life, whatever your relationship
For me, finding that balance means setting boundaries (no checking email at home or on the weekends), finding an outlet when I'm stressed (exercise endorphins are a beautiful thing) and praying over my anxious thoughts or stressful situations at work, keeping in mind that I'm ultimately working for the Lord.
One of the rewards of Bible study is those "oh, now I get it" moments, when you finally understand a passage that had puzzled or troubled you. I've had more than a few of those moments over the years.
For example, in 2 Samuel 6:1-7, the ark of the covenant is being transported on an ox cart when the oxen stumble, shaking the ark and causing one of them men on the cart, Uzzah, to reach out and steady the ark. God strikes Uzzah dead on the spot for breaking God's command not to touch the ark. And we think: Wow, God, that's harsh. What else was he supposed to do? Let it fall?
But there's more to it. The ark wasn't supposed to be carried on an ox cart to begin with: God had provided detailed instructions for its care, telling the Israelites to carry it on their shoulders, using poles that went through ringlets on its sides. Thus, what strikes us as a story of God punishing an understandable instinctive reaction takes on a new meaning. The Israelites had grown careless about keeping God's very specific commands: They wanted to do things their own way (perhaps because using a cart was easier than carrying it themselves). The offense of touching the ark was the culmination of those attitudes.
For another example, look at 1 Corinthians 11, which discusses the shame of a woman having her head uncovered. What, we wonder, was wrong with that? Well, as a footnote in my study Bible puts it:
In Roman culture, both men and women conveyed their status, including their marital situation, by their appearance. A head covering, basically a shawl draped over the head, conveyed that a woman was married and intended to remain in that situation. Some Roman women, however, sought to live a "new women" who did not intend to remain faithful to their husbands. Women who uncovered their head immodestly drew attention to themselves by signaling that they were available to other men. In the name of "Gospel freedom" and "rights," this thinking and behavior began to influence Christians in Corinth. Paul's instruction, as in chapters 8-10, reminds the Corinthians that their actions always communicate something to others. They are to refrain from behavior that communicates something at odds with the Christian life.
Those are just a couple examples: I could list more, and many of you can, too. (We'll get to that in a moment.) But here's a caution: As rewarding as it can be to make biblical discoveries, be careful not to fall in love with the feeling of discovery at the expense of discernment. Not every fascinating discovery — or dynamic teacher — can be trusted. Watch out, especially, for those who tell you that everything biblical which conflicts with our modern sensibilities is merely an artifact of the culture of the time. The purpose of Bible study is to understand the Word of the Lord, not to confirm our preferences or to make us feel more at home in this world.
That said, it's your turn. Let's hear some of the things you've learned in Bible studies and the "now I get it" moments you've had.
I was 9
years old when I got the pep-talk of all womanly pep-talks from my mama. A bike
race down a steep hill ended when I lost control of my pink, banana-seated
cycle and landed face first on the pavement. There was blood. I heard the word “stitches”
and began to cry. When we got to the E.R., my mom took me to the ladies' room to
clean me up as best she could. When I saw my bloody reflection in the mirror, I
began to shake. That’s when Mama spoke
words that have defined my understanding of womanhood. “We’re women,” she said.
“The sight of blood doesn’t scare us. We’re used to seeing it, and we’re the
ones who bandage wounds in battle.”
When my mom equated strength to femininity, my spirit surged, and suddenly
bearing my bloody chin bravely became a badge of womanhood. Throughout my life,
mama did a great job of sharing the stories of brave women in my history. Women
who survived abuse, women who started businesses, women who stood up for the
underdogs. Courage became as fused into feminine identity as compassion,
gentleness and kindness.
last decade or so, culture has been heavy handed in its take on female strength.
We perpetuate icons of sensual power and competitive ambition that are supposed
to signal that we’ve arrived in the marketplace, on the battlefront and in our
autonomy, yet it’s done little to cultivate true courage.
in the gym’s parking lot at night, when confronting an aggressive individual,
when giving a presentation in a room full of critics, the accomplishments of
feminism do not prepare me to face danger. They don’t equip me with wisdom nor
keep me calm and confident under stress. Plenty of modern women still spend
their lives paralyzed or bullied by fear in all its forms.
women seem to have to face fear more frequently. When you hear something in the
night, there is no one to inspect the situation with a bat in hand, but you.
But fear is an ever-present reality for all of us because the world is broken,
and we are acquainted with it. We know that it lurks in picket-fenced
cul-de-sacs as well as it does in brick-clad, inner-city projects. Evil is a
main character on primetime dramas as well as the on the morning
I’ve been experiencing fear tingle down my spine when coming home late at night
and when facing looming deadlines at work. It’s in those times that I remind
myself that I come from a long line of brave women, and cowardice is not in my
when courage really surges within me, it’s when I remember the simple yet
profound truth that God is good and loving. I can trust Him to protect me from
danger and restore me when tragedy strikes.
our refuge and strength, a very presenthelp
in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of
the sea, though its waters roar and
foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (Psalm 46:1-3).
courage of my foremothers is ultimately not about prowess in danger, but in
their resilient spirits that look a lot like what is described in the Bible as
a gift from God: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and
of love and a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7).
we respond to fear is critical. It will either perpetuate bondage in our lives
or unleash freedom. It will make us victims, or it will drape us in strength
and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).
contemplating your 401K, navigating through a rough part of town, or leading a
demanding project at work, how will you reject fear and embrace the power, love
and a sound mind that are God’s good gifts to you?
In four days, I'll leave on a Caribbean cruise. In order to board the ship, I'll be required to produce a valid passport.
My passport has been in a drawer for almost three years, but the other night, I pulled it out so I won't forget to pack it. Before tossing it in my "packing pile" alongside my sunglasses (two pair), sunscreen (three bottles), snorkel gear (yay!) and Dramamine (fingers crossed), I flipped it open and took a good look.
It's not that impressive, really. In fact, it's somewhat unsettling to know that this tiny booklet has everything I need to gain access to other countries, prove who I am, establish my origin, and confirm my citizenship. In short, it's a declaration of my identity.
I find this weird, as the photo of me isn't even a good one. It's outdated, and I'm wearing an unattractive sweater. The rest of the page contains nothing more than my address (which is also on my library card, but doesn't hold the same power there, apparently), date of birth and a series of random numbers.
But as the cruise line has told me now at least three times, it's the most important thing I'll bring with me on the ship. More important than my beach towel and flip flops. More important than my credit card. More important than myself, it seems. If I want to exist, my passport must be in hand.
It's no secret that identity is everything, which is why it's sad that many of us go through life not really knowing who we are. If you're in that boat (no pun intended), we hope this week's show will get you thinking. Get ready for a trip that may change your life (no passport required).
Show Your I.D. -- 00:00
It can take a lifetime to "find yourself," but if you're grounded in Christ, the experience should be one of discovery, not despair. Our panel reflects on how we've struggled with identity at different seasons in life, and what we now know at this stage of the battle.
God Says I'm ... -- 25:30
Mark Driscoll argues that having a false identity is at the heart of many struggles. In his new book Who Do You Think You Are?, Mark lays out the many things God says about us in the Bible, showing that knowing our true identity in Christ frees us to really live.
Sin City -- 51:25
He's visiting his non-Christian friend in Las Vegas, and is worried that their itinerary will be filled with things he, well, shouldn't be doing. Is there a way he can spend time with his friend, have fun, and still honor God? I offer some ideas.
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Every time I go into a grocery store and get a bad shopping cart, I think of Joshua Harris.
You may be familiar with the reference.
In his well-known book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris compares one-on-one dating to a unwieldy shopping cart that always wants to go its own way. It's possible to have a godly relationship with traditional dating, he says, but more difficult than with a courtship model.
Well, we've already identified some of the problems with IKDG. Maybe we abandoned those carts a little too soon without any replacements. Perhaps one-on-one dating wasn't the real problem, but more some sinful heart attitudes that could go along with it.
I have a similar sentiment about online dating. When online dating first became popular, Boundless took a cautious approach. We wondered if online dating might also be an unwieldy shopping cart. The thing is, there are dangers and downsides to every method of dating. And in our fast-paced, globally connected world, online dating may be one of the best ways to find a mate.
As encouragement, I wanted to share my friend Monica's story. She met her husband, Bill, online in 2008. Here's her story in her own words:
Bill was in New Jersey, in a church with older members. He figured he had to look outside of his immediate community to find a good, conservative Christian girl to marry, so he signed up for online dating one year before we met.
I was in Colorado, where I had moved for my job. It was my first Christmas away from home, and the office was dead. My work friend and I decided to sign up for online dating to kill the time. I had previously thought about doing it but was scared of stepping on God's toes. I wanted to be married, and some older, trusted Christians advised me to try online dating to open a door God might work through. "After all," they said, "if you have a headache you take an Advil, right? Why isn't that stepping on God's toes?"
Bill and I were matched Jan. 7, 2008, and began communicating soon after. Our profiles provided a lot of information about who we were and what we believed, but we began emailing to get to know one another better. Because we were older (I was 29 and he was almost 34) we were both comfortable being direct in our conversations. We had frank talks about our pasts and our non-negotiables. Bill was forthright that he liked me and had serious intentions.
After a couple of weeks of heavy communication, including phone conversations, Bill asked me when we should meet. I told him as soon as possible so we could see if we clicked in person. I didn't want to get too emotionally invested before a first meeting because in-person was so important. With a visit, we'd know if this was something we wanted to continue pursuing.
He bought a ticket the next day to fly to Colorado two weeks later. Since my parents were in Puerto Rico, I asked a trusted male Christian in my life (who happened to be my boss) to help me "vet" Bill. I told Bill he would have to meet my boss, and Bill's reaction was, "Of course, and anyone else you want me to meet." His willingness to be scrutinized showed me he was serious about his intentions.
Bill stayed at a hotel for the weekend. Our first day together was a bit awkward for me because as much as I had tried to guard my heart, I was starting to fall for him ... then I met him in person, and I realized how much I didn't know about him! I knew his heart and his intentions and his history, but not his mannerisms and his smile. This caused me to be a bit guarded. But by day two, we "clicked."
Two weeks later I flew to New Jersey to visit him and meet his family. During this visit, we became girlfriend and boyfriend officially. At this point, I freaked out a little because we were long distance. He told me he could move out to Colorado so we could date in a more conventional manner. But I realized he was serious about me (if he was willing to move), we were attracted to each other and our non-negotiables matched up. So I felt peace about not dating conventionally.
The rest of our courtship included a few more visits and a trip to Puerto Rico where Bill asked my dad for his blessing to marry me. We became engaged in August and married the following January, just a year after we were matched.
The adjustment to marriage was easier than I anticipated. We had worried and talked through possible struggles because we were long distance during our whole relationship, but it was OK. Yes, we learned a few new things about each other that we might have known if we were in the same town while dating, but overall is was just wonderful to finally be together. We didn't take the closeness for granted.
My advice for online dating is to meet in person as soon as possible; use the online part just as a tool to meet people. God can obviously use this. Four years and two kids later, we are happily married.
I'm thankful for Monica's perspective on online dating. When I was single, there were times when I might have viewed online dating as a faulty shopping cart — mainly because of some wrong attitudes (of wanting to take control) I recognized in myself. Like all forms of dating, online dating has its potential pitfalls and safety issues. But that's no reason to give up on the cart. As Monica discovered, that may be the very cart God wants to use to guide you to marriage.
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As part of National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14),
I asked one of our Rising Voice
bloggers to take a look at the issue of same-sex marriage for our Millennial
audience. What grew out of that was a four-part
series dealing with the state of marriage in our culture and how we contend for
our faith and our biblical beliefs not only in the public square, but also
within the church. Jenny wrote:
The 2012 election marked the first time
same-sex marriage was explicitly endorsed in one of the major national party
platforms. Since then, and even earlier, there have been significant rumblings
about the need for Republicans to similarly “modernize” their platform and
“follow public opinion” on this issue…
Indeed, polls indicate that a comfortable
majority of Americans ages 18–29 are in favor of same-sex marriage — one poll
found 73 percent. Polls also show that opinions generally differ by region and
age cohort, with a majority of Americans in the South still opposing same-sex
marriage and a majority of the 65-and-older generation still disapproving of
statements lead me to a couple questions for you, Boundless reader: Do you
think the tide is turning in what the majority of Americans think of same-sex
marriage? (For more context on this question, read the rest of Jenny’s
first post.) And if so, how should we as Christians engage this difficult
topic in a way that communicates truth while also remaining gracious and
loving? Or said in another way, do we really have to engage the topic at
As soon as one
starts to think or talk very deeply about same-sex marriage, one realizes there
are really two distinct issues at stake (read part
2), each with its own set of questions and complexities. And while there is
overlap, it seems helpful not to confuse the two. The two issues are the civil issue (should
the institution of marriage be redefined by the state to include same-sex
couples who decide they want to “marry”?) and the moral/religious issue (is
same-sex marriage morally equivalent to opposite-sex marriage, or is it
contrary to nature and/or God’s design? More basically, is homosexual behavior
right or wrong — or is it just a matter of preference?)
There is much
more we could talk about when it comes to the civil and moral issues surround
same-sex marriage — and the issues of contending for marriage in the church
3) and public square (read part
4) — but I’ll leave you to peruse the
Rising Voice blog series if you’d like to read further.
I’ll leave you
with the several of the questions Jenny asks at the end of part
2. I’d love to hear your answers on these questions:
believe about same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior, how did you come to
have those beliefs — what shaped them? Was it your feelings and personal
experiences, the influence/teaching of others, your own reasoning based on what
you’ve seen and observed, God’s Word … or a combination of factors?
P.S. For those
of you eager to engage on this topic, remember that Jesus came full of grace and truth, and
our admonition as Christ-followers is to be “holy
as He is holy” – in all that we
say and do. Comments posted here are not exempt.