Read Through the Entire Bible in 2016

One of the habits I have maintained in my life is reading through the entire Bible every year. I started this even before I had any idea I would be a pastor when I was 16 years old. In the New Year I will begin my 39th trip through the Bible cover to cover. Here are some of the benefits and blessings of reading through the Scriptures on an annual basis.

1. You experience the transforming power of God’s word on a daily basis.
In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” There is something about the Bible that is true of no other book, it is alive, meaning that every time you read it there is something that speaks to your heart. The most I have every read any other book is twice (a Tom Clancy novel). The second time through it just didn’t have the same impact. But every time I read the word intentionally it convicts, inspires, and encourages me.

2. You get to read parts of the Bible that are more difficult, less traveled, unpopular, or just hard to understand.
Let’s face it, reading books like Leviticus, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Revelation are not the easiest to get through or understand, but even in these books are found wonderful gems of God’s truth that can encourage, inspire, and convict you. In Lamentations, one of the most depressing books of the Bible, we find in chapter 3:22-23, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.”

3. You develop a filter for discerning what ideas are biblical and what are not.
There is a lot of heresy out there, even from people who occupy a pulpit. How do you know what is sound doctrine and what is not? Even if you don’t have a seminary degree, reading through the Bible cover to cover helps you to think more biblically, and this in turn gives you an ability to sort out sound teaching from wrong teaching. For example, people often say, “God helps those who help themselves.” No where does the Bible teach this.

4. You gain an understanding of the entire story of the Bible, and how the various parts fit together.
The Bible is the story of God’s plan of redemption, how God chose to save us and the universe He created from sin. Knowing the entire story helps you to better understand the different books as well as specific passages. For example, the more you know the Old Testament, the better you understand and appreciate the New Testament. Let’s take the Book of Hebrews. The theme of this book is how much greater is Jesus as prophet, priest, and king compared to any prophet, priest, or king of the Old Testament. After slugging through Leviticus, Numbers, and reading Judges and the Prophets, you really get what Hebrews is saying on such a deeper level. The Book of Revelation is a challenge for any Bible scholar, and yet when you have read through the Bible, you see how John weaves together every part of the Bible in looking forward to the return of Christ and the consummation of God’s plan.

So how do I read through the Bible in a year? My basic plan is to read three chapters a day, and five chapters on Sunday. I also read a chapter of Proverbs a day as the book has 31 chapters. You may want to start at Genesis 1 and work through the books in order, or you may want to read two chapters from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament. There are also some published plans to guide you through the Bible such as Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s at http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/printables.html, or the ESV Study Bible plan at http://static.esvmedia.org/assets/pdfs/rp.esv.study.bible.pdf or this one http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.pdf.

The Bible itself declares, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” Since God inspired all of it, doesn’t it make sense to read all of it?

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Help with Anxiety and Panic Attacks

On today’s program we talked about when your anxiety goes on overload and you find yourself having a panic attack. Here is a more clinical definition of a panic attack: a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which 4 or more of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes:
-palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
-sweating
-trembling or shaking
-sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
-feeling of choking
-chest pain or discomfort
-nausea or abdominal distress
-feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
-derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself
-fear of losing control or going crazy
-fear of dying
-numbness or tingling sensations
-chills or hot flashes

Notice how the symptoms come upon you suddenly, almost out of nowhere, and they increase very quickly. I like to use the idea of a “perfect storm” to describe what happens with a panic attack. This is where various ingredients of stress and worry in your life all come together at the same time, engage your heart, and overwhelm your ability to cope.

On the program we spoke more generally about how to deal with panic attacks. Let me give you some additional things you can do. Let’s begin with the power of God’s word. This will speak to your heart (the core of who you are) and your mind. I find there are two times when the scriptures are especially effective, in the moment of crisis when you call to mind various truths regarding God, and when you are going to bed at night. Here are some passages that have been very helpful to me in times of anxiety:
Psalms 23, 46, 91, 103; Isaiah 40; Matthew 6:25-34; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25;1 Peter 5:1-7.

Meditation on biblical passages is also a powerful tool. This can be done in the moments of a panic attack, and also in between times of crisis. Take a verse and read through it pausing to think about each word and what it means. Step back from the verse and think of the themes it speaks of and think on them, or what this verse is telling you about the character of God. Then use the power of prayer to speak to God about these truths and how they can change how the way you look at life and the issues of worry you are facing. In your mind, picture the fact that God cares for you, and wants you to turn to Him in faith to trust His care and plan for you.

Another way to overcome panic attacks is to pay attention to your physical body. First, you should pay attention to the warning signs your body starts to give off. When you notice you are having some physical symptoms, such as sweating, your stomach beginning to churn, your heart beginning to race, etc., use them to alert you to pay attention to any stray or anxious thoughts that are behind the symptoms. Try to slow down and pay attention to what is happening before your thoughts and physical symptoms get more intense. This can help you stop the panic cycle before it takes off and overwhelms you.

As you think about giving your cares and worries to God in faith, learn how to gain more ability to keep your physical symptoms from taking over. One of the best ways to do this is by controlled breathing. When you feel the symptoms coming on, start to consciously take control of your breathing. Breath in deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a bit, and then breath out slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process as a way to regain control over your body, oxygenate it, and slow down the panic cycle. Many of the physical symptoms you may have in a panic attack can be caused or made worse by short, shallow breathing that deprives you of oxygen. Some people find it helpful to do this while lying down and elevating their feet.

If there is ever a time to reach out for help, it is when you are struggling with panic attacks. By the nature of the panic attack, your ability to cope on your own is over- whelmed. Seek out your pastor or a godly counselor to help you. There are usually one or more heart (in the biblical sense of the core of who you are) issues that are impacting your reaction to the specific areas of worry you are struggling with. You should also make an appointment with your family doctor to make sure there are no underlying medical issues. Many people confuse a panic attack with going into cardiac arrest so it is good to rule out any possible medical problems. A physician may also prescribe medication to help you get through times of acute anxiety.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Coping with Burn-Out, Part 2

In this post I want to address how to deal with burn-out and even avoid it in the first place. First, you have probably accumulated time off, so it is time to take it, now. And when you take the time off, unplug from the internet and your email. Make sure you get enough sleep, whether you are taking time off or back to work. Another thing you can do is reorganize to make sure you are scheduling time off, time with your family, and time to pursue the things you enjoy. In other words, you want to achieve a sense of balance between your work and your time off.

When you think about living a driven life-style, there are some heart issues you should also seek to understand:
-Having trouble saying no because you don’t want to disappoint others. What you should be more concerned about is whether this is something God would want you to do.
-Being worried about what others think of you and wanting them to be impressed. This puts the opinion of other as more important than what God thinks of you.
-Fear, fear of losing your job, fear of missing a promotion, fear of the disapproval of others. This heart attitude of fear can drive you to do too much and have a life out of balance.
-Trying to save yourself by doing too much. If I do all of this, I will win God’s approval.
-Obessessive, compulsive behavior that drives you to perfectionism.
You are really caught up in self-enslavement. And God wants to deliver you from slavery to sin and the self-imposed slavery you can inflict on yourself. God’s answer to this is the Sabbath rest. Remember, God rested on the seventh day of creation, so how much more do you need this! The biblical principle of grace is also very relevant to this problem of overwork and burn-out. You don’t have anything to earn or prove to God. And the principle of being a steward is also an important perspective. You life, your time, your job, isn’t yours, it is God’s. You are simply a steward. Your schedule is God’s and He never desires you to be in a state of utter exhaustion.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus gives you His promise that He will give you rest for your soul. Claim that promise now! Seek the Lord, and seek His rest.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Dealing with Burn-Out

As we discussed on today’s edition of Insight Today, many people are simply worn out, and even worse, are burned out. What do I mean by burn-out? Here is one definition: “exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, and also may have the dimension of frustration or cynicism, and as a result reduced efficacy within the workplace.” Sound familiar?

The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” “A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for. Let’s look at ten signs of burn-out and see how many are true of you.

1. You Are Exhausted…. All the Time: A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

2. You are Cynical, Frustrated and Feel Other Negative Emotions: You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.

3. You are Not Taking Care of Yourself: When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep. Self-medication is another issue and could include relying on sleeping pills to sleep, drinking more alcohol at the end of the day to de-stress or even drinking more coffee to summon up the energy to drag yourself into work in the morning.

4. You are Lacking Motivation: When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout. Other ways this manifests? It may be harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.

5. Your Job Performance is Slipping: Not sure whether you’re burnt out? Compare your job performance now to your performance in previous years. Because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time, taking this long-term view might reveal whether you’re in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.

6. You Have Generally Decreased Satisfaction: This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life. You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community or with your social activities, Dr. Ballard says.

7. You are Having Trouble Concentrating: Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. When we’re stressed, our attention narrows to focus on the negative element that we perceive as a threat. In the short term, this helps us deal with the problem at hand, Dr. Ballard says, “but our bodies and brains are designed to handle this in short bursts and then return to normal functioning. When stress becomes chronic, this narrow focus continues for a long time and we have difficulty paying attention to other things.” This “fight or flight” tunnel vision can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.

8. You Have More Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work: This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

9. You are Preoccupied With Work, Even When You Are Not Working: Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

10. You Experience More Health Problems: Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

In my next blog, I will talk about some biblical and practical answers to how to recover from burn-out, and how to avoid it in the first place.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



The Emotionally Healthy Marriage

This morning on our radio program, Insight Today, Leslie Vernick and I discussed her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. As I thought about our conversation, it reminded me again of how sad it is that so many marriages are so far from what God desires for a husband and wife. But what really disturbs me is when a husband or wife seeks to excuse their behavior as being Christian and seeks to use the Bible to endorse their sinful behavior!

In the program Leslie focused on husbands who are controlling, demeaning, disrespectful, overly critical, and just downright selfish. And some will use what Paul says in Ephesians chapter 5 to justify their behavior. In this chapter Paul says wives are to be submissive to their husbands. “So there you have it wife, you have to do whatever I say, I am the boss.” But this is exactly NOT what God is saying.

Let’s look a little further into this passage. As you continue reading, you find Paul saying that God is calling the husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church.” Think about what he is saying. How did Christ love the church? Was he self-centered and selfish, or was He selfless and giving? In Mark 10:45 Jesus says, “For I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life a ransom for many.” How far was Christ willing to go for His bride, the church? He went all the way and died for His church.

So how would it be possible for a Christian man to be a controlling, demeaning, disrespectful husband? It’s not possible if he is taking what God says in Ephesians 5. The chapter ends by summing up what he is to be toward his wife. He is to cherish her. If you are a husband and not fulfilling your call to cherish your wife, you need to repent of your sinful attitudes and actions, seek God’s forgiveness and your wife’s forgiveness, and begin to live as God is calling you to be as a truly godly husband.

Wives are called to respect their husband. But that call is based on what God has already said about what husbands are to be, loving his wife as Christ loves the church. If a husband is not fulfilling his role to cherish his wife, God is not saying she simply has to put up with his sin. When a husband is seeking to love his wife as Christ loves the church, what Christian woman would not want to respect him and be the godly wife she is called to be?

Certainly wives can also act in ways that are controlling, demeaning, disrespectful, overly critical, and selfish. And here the Ephesians passage is also calling her to repent and seek to be the godly woman He desires her to be. Certainly none of these behaviors reflects the kind of respect God is calling a wife to have toward her husband.

If you find yourself in an emotionally destructive marriage, seek out your pastor or reach out to our counseling team to get the help you need to see God transform your hearts and renew your marriage to be the blessing He desires you to experience in it. Let me also encourage you to get a copy of Leslie Vernick's book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and check out her web site, http://leslievernick.com.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Thriving in the Toughest Years of Marriage, Part 3

As we conclude this three part series on our radio program, Insight Today, I want to share some steps that can bring renewal to any marriage, especially marriages where the husband and wife have drifted away from each other. In this series we have focused couples who are raising teenagers, but this can be applied to couples at any stage of marriage.

1. Renew Your Commitment to Each Other

Marriage is not feelings and emotions, it is a commitment of your will to love your spouse. In our fast paced world, husbands and wives need each other more, not less. If you say that we need each other more, then it is going to take a strong commitment to work at the marriage. James Dobson of Focus on the Family notes how “Married life offers no panacea, if it is going to reach its potential, it will require an all out investment by both husband and wife.”

2. Resolve to Let Go of Past Marital Disappointments and Forgive Each Other

Wallerstein and Blakeslee, in their book, The Good Marriage, How and Why It Works make the following observation: “All happy marriages are not carefree. There are good times and bad times, and certainly partners may face serious crises together or separately. Happily married husbands and wives get depressed, fight, lose jobs, struggle with demands in the workplace, and crisis of infants and teenagers, and confront sexual problems. All marriages are haunted by ghosts of the past, but every good marriage must adapt to developmental changes in each partner. ” This means that couples must come to a place where they can forgive each other of the ghosts of the past and set the stage for their future.

3. Refocus your marriage to be less child focused and more partner focused.

It’s not that you should neglect your teens, find a balance between energy spent on them and energy spent on your marriage. Some specific suggestions are become each other’s best friend again. Renew your romance and make time to make love. You may also want to find a new common activity you can both do together.

4. Rework your parenting issues away from the battles with your teens.

You and your spouse should decide what battles are worth fighting and what ones you should let go. Try to limit the rules to ones that really matter for your teen’s safety and morality, and present a united front to your teens.

5. Restore meaningful communication with your spouse.

Place a priority on maintaining effective communication that gives you the opportunity to express your feelings, frustrations, concerns and joys. Set aside time each day to talk about things. Make sure you get beyond the surface stuff of daily life to matters that are important to you and your spouse.

6. Reach out to other couples with teens.

This will keep you from feeling isolated like “we’re the only ones going through this.” You will have the chance to glean helpful ideas and learn from the mistakes of other parents. You will also have opportunities to share what you have learned.

The point of everything I have been saying in this three-part series is to not wait until your teens are out of the house before you work on your marriage. Place a priority on your marriage today, and carve out the time it will take to keep your marriage strong, or get it back to where it should be.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Thriving in the Toughest Years of Marriage, Part 2

This morning on our radio program, Insight Today, we looked at some of the specific reasons why the years when you are raising teenagers can be the toughest years of marriage for many couples. Let’s look at the reasons from the vantage point of the teenager, and then from the vantage point of the parents.

Teen Issues:
*The shift from child to young adult.
*The subtle changes in the father-daughter and mother-son relationships.
*The struggle within your teen with dependence vrs. autonomy.
*Dating and sex.
*How children mirror their parents flaws becomes more obvious.
*The shift from control to influence as the teen spends increasing time outside the home.
*Biological clock changes with your teen.
*Getting a driver’s license and the increased independence that comes with it.
*Greater consequences for sin and irresponsible behavior.
*High school level homework and school/academic pressures.

Parent Issues:
*Mom and Dad’s taxi service.
*You are aging and have less stamina.
*Your parents are aging and you may need to re-parent your parents while parenting your teens, ie.: you are in the “sandwich generation.”
*Financial pressure in saving for college.
*Differences between yourselves on behavior standards/expectations for your teens.
*Disagreements between yourselves on how to discipline your teens.
*Biological clock issues for you and your spouse: you want to get to bed earlier and they want to stay up later. *Finding time and privacy for being intimate.
*Level of involvement with your teens activities.
*The pressure of “will my kid make it?”
*Worry over your teen’s moral and spiritual choices.

So let me ask those of you raising teenagers right now, how many of these are at work in your marriage? How are you coping? Does it seem like the last item on your list is your spouse and your marriage? For those of you with younger children, have you thought about how you are going to navigate through these years successfully in terms of your marriage?

On our concluding program we are going to discuss some common mistakes couples make in trying to deal with all of this, and some solid, practical, and biblical answers that will help you to not just survive, but to thrive in these years of marriage and set you up well for the second half of your marriage.


Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Thriving in the Toughest Years of Marriage, Part 1

We just began a new, three-part series on our radio program, Insight Today, I am calling Thriving in the Toughest Years of Marriage. I made the point that the toughest years of marriage are when you are raising teenagers. I say this because of the research, the spike in the divorce rate when the last child leaves home, and in my own marriage and counseling experience. If you don’t keep working at your marriage in these years, you could be in serious trouble once you have an empty nest. Or these years can set youyou’re your spouse up for a great second half of marriage.
In this first program, I mention five general factors that can make these years of marriage so challenging. These factors can be at work in any marriage after 15 to 20 years:

1. Less emotional reserve: As couples get into this phase of marriage they find that they don’t have the emotional and physical reserve capacity they once had. This is one of the things that makes it easier to over-react to the irritations of your spouse, and those of the mini-adults now occupying your home.
2. A faster pace of life which leads to being stressed out. Many Americans are simply stressed and depressed from the strain of life today. The technology which was supposed to make our lives easier, and it has, also has us multi-tasking and cramming more things into our day. 1 out of 10 Americans report feeling “great stress” at least once a week at work. A great illustration of this is the new movie with Robert DiNiro and Ann Hathaway, “The Intern.” If you see this movie, look at the difference in approach to life and stress between the two characters portrayed in the film.
3. DINS Syndrome: Dual Income, No Sex. Enough said on this one!
4. The weight of accumulated frustration and unresolved conflict. After fifteen to twenty years of marriage, there can be a lot of baggage for the couple to carry around. Often these frustrations come from one or more of the “Big Four” of marriage conflict: money, sex, kids, or in-laws/extended family.
5. The impact of social media. One or both spouses are addicted to Facebook, Insta-gram, Twitter, etc. Their heads are buried in their computer, constantly checking email and using their smart phone. This can drive a subtle but growing wedge between the husband and wife, as well as the parents and their kids. Plus your kids are so much better at using it compared to their parents.

So how many of these factors are happening in your marriage? I encourage you to take some time, step back, and really evaluate your marriage. And then have a non-confrontational conversation with your spouse about it. Ask him/her what they think. In our next program, I am going to look at some specific factors at work in couples who are raising teenagers both from the teen’s life, and the also from the parents side. Even if you have younger kids, I encourage you to listen in because these years are coming (cue Jaws movie music)!

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Single and Parenting

Our radio program today featured counselor, speaker, and single parent, Kim Alston who gave a powerful message of help and hope for single parents. As promised, here are some of the resources we mentioned to assist and encourage you.
Scripture passages to consider:
2 Timothy 1:7
Romans 15:13
Philippians 1:6
Hebrews 4:15-16
Psalm 34, 46, 63, 73, 103

Some single parent families in scripture:
Hagar, Genesis 21:9-21
The widow of Zarepath, 1 Kings 17:8-24
Jesus cares for a bereaved single mother, Luke 7:11-16
Deacons established for the purpose of caring for widows, Acts 6:1 ff.
Timothy’s family: 2:1-7 (Scripture is not clear on whether she was a single mom or if her husband was a non-believer).

Resources for Single Parents: Single and Parenting Group led by Kim Alston at Davisville Church, 325 Street Road, Southampton, PA. Wednesday evenings, 7 to 8:30, Room 207. Call 215-355-6462 for more information.
Financial Peace University: www.daveramsey.com/fpu
Single and Parenting: www.singleandparenting.org

Books:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp
Stories for Kids in Divorce, Linda Jacobs
From We to Me, Zonnebelt-Smeenge and DeVries
Reclaiming Your Heart, Denise Hidreth Jones
From One Single Mother to Another, Sandra Aldrich
Single Mom Life, Angela Thomas
Tony Evans Speaks on Single Parenting, Tony Evans

Be sure to call our counseling line, 215-947-6465 if you would like to meet with one of our counselors. We are here for you!

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Dealing with Anger, Part 3

In this final blog post on dealing with anger, I want to share a second step to overcoming destructive anger. This step is all about how you view yourself in relation to God and to others. If you view yourself as the center of your world, and everything and everyone else must serve you, then anything that gets in your way is going to provide an opportunity for you to be angry. But if you change your world view to being much larger than yourself, that you are subject to a holy, gracious God who is the one who calls the shots, then the things that annoy you become a much lower priority. Your motto changes from, “its my way or the highway,” to “its God’s way and it is up to me to follow Him.”
One place to see this transformation of world is in Psalm 73. The psalmist starts off as an angry, bitter believer. Why is he angry? He sees wicked people getting away with everything while he tries to do the right thing and gets persecuted for it.
As you read the Psalm you see the depth of his anger in verses 1-15, 21-22. He is unable to get over this anger until you come to verses 16-17. What resolves his anger? “But when I thought to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I discerned their end.” What changed? His view of God and the world and his place it in. As you see in the rest of the Psalm, he realizes that the world is bigger than himself. He sees that God is in control, and God will take care of those who refuse to live for Him. He goes from anger and rage to God’s nearness being his good. So we see again that revolving anger is really a matter of the condition of your heart, and what you chose to worship.
Part of that bigger view involves living with the realization that our Holy God is angry at sin and as you and I sin daily, we experience His grace every day. We deserve nothing less than Hell, but the wrath that you and I should receive from Him on a daily basis was directed toward someone else. It was directed toward Christ on the cross.
God’s wrath was poured out on Him to the point where God the Father turned His back on His Son. It led Jesus to cry out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” As Christ hung on the cross as an innocent man, enduring the taunts, the abuse, the pain and the agony, what did He do? Did He cry out for retribution, No. He cried out “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Do you understand His example of patience with you. How is that? How much have you sinned against God? Let’s say you only sin once a day. Pretty good track record, yes? How many sins is that in a year? 365. 10 years, 3650. If you live to 70, that is 25,500 sins. And you don’t think the Lord is showing gracious restraint toward you?
And so we come to the cross, where God provides the ultimate example of constructive anger. He does this by pouring out His wrath against sin on His Son so that the price for our sin will be paid, and we can be recipients of His grace. Now I know that this is only a starting point. Sorting out what is true and what is false about anger is huge. We need to know the target before we can aim the gun. It is a huge starting point, but that is all it is, a starting point. How do I go further? Refocus on God and His kingdom in worship. For additional practical steps, I recommend to you Robert Jones’ book, Uprooting Anger.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Dealing With Anger, Part 2

As we continue looking at the problem of anger, I want to start this post by looking at the contrast David Powlison makes between destructive and constructive anger. There are three parts to the ways that the practice of anger goes bad:
1. We react when we shouldn’t. The petty angers, the irritations, grumbling. The world is not obeying my dictates. We express it wrongly, destructively. I can’t think of a case when anger is wrongly aroused that it is rightly expressed.
2. The legitimate angers, rightly aroused, but wrongly expressed. We over-react. Your anger serves the purposes of destruction, not for the purposes of construction.
3. The absent angers, we don’t react when we should. You anger not aroused because you don’t see anything wrong, or even worse, you know it is wrong but you are indifferent. Or when you see something wrong and your actually think it is ok you and seek to further it. This is reflected in that chilling passage in Isaiah 5:20.

Now lets look at Constructive Anger:
1. Righteous Anger reacts against actual sin. Not perceived evil against me, or being inconvenienced, or not liking what you have to say about matters of preference.
2. Righteous anger focuses on God and not on myself. It focuses on God and His kingdom, rights, and concerns and not on my kingdom, rights, and concerns. This, of course, means I must know God and His truth, and live a life in worship of Him, not myself.
3. Righteous anger is accompanied by other godly qualities and expresses itself in godly ways. For example, Ephesians 4:28-30.

David Powlison has also developed seven questions to help you assess how you deal with anger. These are a great way to look in the mirror:
1. Do you get angry about the right things?
2. Do you express your anger in the right way?
3. How long does your anger last?
4. How controlled is your anger?
5. What motivates your anger?
6. Is your anger “primed and ready” to respond to another person’s habitual sins?
7. What is the effect of your anger?

So how are you doing?

You are probably asking how you can move away from destructive anger to constructive anger. First, how badly do you want to change your anger? Second, if you are serious, it begins by faith and repentance. Education and a few hints or anger management techniques are not enough. Why isn’t if enough? Because the source of our problem is deeper than how we try to express it or control it on the surface. The Bible says the source of our anger is found within the depths of your heart.
What is the heart? In scripture, it can refer to the organ that beats within us, but it can also be used as a way to refer to all you are on the inside. Here are some scripture references that can help you see that the problem of anger is rooted in your heart and is really an issue of what you chose to worship: Proverbs 4:20, Mark 7:20-23, James 3:5-12 and 4:1-2.
In my final blog on anger which will be posted early next week, I will look at Psalm 73 and some final steps to overcoming destructive and how the ultimate answer is found Christ.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Dealing with Anger, Part 1

This morning we started a two part series on the problem of anger, something we all deal with. Even if your anger is not displayed in destructive ways, you may be on the receiving end of someone’s destructive anger, and that makes you angry. Many believe that their anger is something beyond their ability to control, it is like a volcano poised to erupt and all we can do is wait for the next explosion. As we said on the broadcast today, Scripture has a much different perspective. It makes it clear that we can control our anger. Here are a couple examples to consider:
Proverbs 14:29, 16:32, 19:11 are three passages which make it clear that you can control your anger. They make it clear that people and situations do not cause you anger, they simply provide the opportunity for the anger and self-centeredness of your heart to be expressed. From a practical perspective, you know if your boss makes you angry that you are not going to blow up at your boss like you do at home. You keep your anger in check because you don’t want to be fired. So you can control it. As we read in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.” It must be possible then to be angry and yet not fall into sin.
So what is anger? Is it come uncontrollable force or wave that comes over me that leads me to explode? In contrast to this idea that more describes how anger feels, here are three definitions of anger for you to consider:

Robert Jones in his book, Uprooting Anger, provides this definition: “Our anger is a whole-personed, active response of negative moral judgment against perceived evil.”

David Powlison of Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation: “The core of anger, good or bad anger, is that I am against it, it displeases me, it matters, and it is wrong.”

Take some time to think about what each of these wise men are saying. I have been very blessed by their insights on anger and am very dependent on them for my content in these programs on anger. Robert’s book is a great read and I encourage you to get a copy.

Here is my definition: Anger is an active response of the heart to something I am against, that displeases me, that matters, and is wrong.

What are the things that each definition has in common? What do these definitions say about the core of anger? Can you continue to live the same way with your anger if you accept these definitions? In our next broadcast we will look at some answers on how to get your anger under control.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Understanding Depression

The last two weeks I have been discussing depression with Dr. Ed Welch of Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Ed is the author of one of the best books on depression I have ever read, “Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness.” In addition to this book, another good read on depression is by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones entitled, Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and It’s Cure. I highly recommend both of these books.
We also made reference to a number of scriptures where depression is described. Many Christians believe that if you are a Christian, you don’t get depressed, and if you do, it is a sin. Yes, we are called to rejoice as believers, we should experience the joy of the Lord, etc. But scripture also makes it clear that believers get depressed, they can despair, and it is often a natural reaction to very difficult and trying circumstances. Here are some passages that you may find helpful.

Psalm 88: This is a very powerful and moving description of person in the grips of depression.
Psalms 13, 22, 42, 73, 102: All Psalms of David, known as a “man after God’s own heart,” where he describes his struggles with depression.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11: Paul discusses his struggle with depression (v.8-9) and what God taught him in it.
2 Corinthians 4:7-18: Paul notes how he experienced affliction, confusion, persecution, etc. and how he coped with it through the power of God.
One thing I have always appreciated about the Bible is its honest portrayal of life and the people found in its pages.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Time Travelling

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to time travel? Thanks to the popular book and movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” and Star Trek, and other entertaining stories, time travel has piqued the interest of many people. But does time travelling only belong in the realm of science fiction and fantasy? Actually, many of us time travel quite often, perhaps regularly.
Some of us have a tendency to time travel into the future. We are the worriers who are consumed with “what if” thoughts, and who jump to conclusions or catastrophize the future. “He didn’t respond immediately to my text, so clearly he’s into someone else, and he’s gonna dump me.” We suffer with anxiety and stress.
Others of us travel into the past, reliving a past mistake or event. We become filled with regret. Our thoughts begin with “if only” or “would-a, could-a, or should-a.” Often we are flooded with the same emotions that we felt the first time around, but now we’ve added guilt, shame, or bitterness to the sadness and hurt.
Whether we time-travel into the past or into the future, we often experience distressing emotions and thoughts upon arrival. If you discover yourself time-traveling, notice how your body is reacting (e.g., rapid breathing, tenseness), your thoughts, and any painful emotions. This awareness will help you understand your response to distress and disappointment.
Why do we have such trouble remaining in the present, dwelling on there-and-then instead of focusing on here-and-now? Do we believe that our worry, anxiety, guilt, or regret will ameliorate the past or change a future outcome? We long to restore that balance, letting go of the past, but not getting too far ahead into some future unknown. For sure, the troubles of today are plenty to occupy us without piling on more troubles of the past or future.
The scriptures offer us a way to battle our tendency towards these troubling side-effects of time traveling. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, God tells us to demolish these strongholds by taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ. This is part of how our minds become renewed (Romans 12:2) as we learn to obey Christ, as opposed to giving into thoughts that steer us away from Him. In other words, don’t let your thoughts rule your emotions; take those thoughts and offer them up to God, and ask Him to redirect any thoughts that are not good or worthy of Him. He is faithful, and He hears you. He will help you see the truth of the matter and relinquish the control back to Him.
Secondly, begin a habit of listening without distraction. Ecclesiastes 5:1 and James 1:19 emphasize the practice of listening, by favoring listening over speaking in haste. Start with five minutes of sitting in a cozy chair and breathing slowly. Listen and identify every indoor and outdoor sound. Once you master this skill, select a Scripture and begin meditating on it during your quiet time. Invite God into your quiet time and give Him anything that still weighs on your heart, so that you may be free to receive His peace and His counsel.
What might God be saying to you today? I am amazed at the way God speaks His wisdom to me. Sometimes he helps me make a connection between a scripture and a troubling situation in my life. Do you ever keep seeing the same scripture over and over again? That’s probably God trying to get your attention. Sometimes He uses the words of another believer - even in an entirely different context - to speak the truth to me. He connects the dots in heaven long before I ever do here on earth. The key is to be quick to listen to Him. Shhhh.
Take your thoughts captive and fine tune your listening ear to God’s Word. He is our Redeemer and Hope, so go ahead and put your trust in Him with the things that weigh on your heart. And may you savor these moments in the present. In His presence.

Susan Sciarratta

Susan Sciarratta

Christian Counselor

Susan has her master's in Christian Counseling and we are excited to have her. Her areas of counseling specialty include women's issues, relationship and marriage counseling, pre-marital, childhood abuse or sexual abuse, grief, depression, suicidal thoughts, and working with adolescents.



PROTECTING YOUR CHILD FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

This week we tackled what may be one of the most important topics we cover this year, protecting your child from sexual abuse or assault. Stories of sexual abuse and assault seem to be all over the news today. From the high school girl raped at a local school, to the Duggar scandal, to the problem of priest sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church over the last few years, it seems you can’t go a day or two without hearing of the next victim or scandal. It is imperative that you be proactive to protect your children. Justin and Lindsey Holcomb recently wrote a book for children to help parents do just that. It is entitled God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies. I hope that if you are a parent or grandparent, you will order the book and use it with the children you care about. It is available on Amazon or you can get it through the link below.

Here are nine steps they suggest for parents to take to help protect their children:

1. Explain that God made their body. Wording they suggest is “Every part of your body is good, and some parts of your body are private.”
2. Teach proper names of body parts and clearly identify which parts are private.
3. Invite your child’s communication by telling them they can always tell you if someone makes them feel uncomfortable no matter who the person is or what they say to them. Assure your child they will not be in trouble for telling you if someone touches them inappropriately.
4. Talk to your child about touches, and help them distinguish between touch that is ok and touch that is not. Teach your child how to say “stop,” “all done,” “no more.”
5. Don’t ask your child to maintain your emotions. On this one they are talking about when you ask your child for a hug to help you feel better. While this may be innocent with you, a predator can use similar language to take advantage of your child.
6. Throw out the word “secret.” Help them understand the difference between a surprise and a secret. Secrets cause isolation and exclusion, and are an important tool for a sexual predator.
7. Clarify the rules for “playing doctor.”
8. Help them identify who they can trust. They need to know who they can talk to when they feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused about someone’s behavior toward them.
9. Report suspected abuse immediately.

Obviously the Holcomb’s go into more detail than I have quoted here, but hopefully this will get you started thinking about how to protect your children. Here are some web sites you can consult in addition to their book:
www.GodMadeAllOfMe.com
www.stopitnow.org/talking_to_kids
www.netgrace.org

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CROSS THE LINE ON FACEBOOK?

So what should you do if you do cross the line on Facebook or other social media? On Saturday’s edition of Insight Today we looked at the growing problem of Facebook Affairs, how they get started, why social media makes it so easy, and what you can do to keep yourself and your spouse from crossing the line. But what if you do cross the line? What should you do? A great question, and depending on how you answer it and what you chose to do, you can save or sink your marriage. Here are my thoughts on what should happen next.

I think you need to start with repentance. What does it mean to repent? You start with confessing what you have done to God. No excuses, not making light of it, no ifs, ands or buts, confess it to God. And then determine that you are going to follow a different path, you are going to turn away from that sin and turn to following after God on His path. This is exactly what repentance means, acknowledging your sin to the Lord, turning away from it, and then following His path.

And this is going to mean ending that social media relationship with that other person. As you do that, you need to apologize to that person for crossing lines that should not have been crossed, for going too far or allowing yourself to go too far, or using them for your own self-gratification. And then de-friend that person, for example, if they are on Facebook, or end whatever contact you have with that other person. You have to end that relationship, period. Any and all contact with that person must stop permanently!

Then you need to sit down with your spouse and have a conversation with them about what has been going on, the fact that you were convicted about it, and you needed to end it. I also think it is wise to seek counsel from your pastor or other godly counselor to help you to do the right thing, and to deal with some of the heart issues that led you down this path of sin. If you don’t deal with those heart issues, other opportunities for temptation are going to come along on social media, and you need to deal with that on the heart level.

So you need to seek godly counsel from your pastor or other trusted counselor. Not just about the heart issues that led you down this path, but obviously when you confess this to your spouse this is going to create a lot of heartache for him or her and in your marriage and those issues are going to have to be worked through. And they can be worked through. I have seen God bring tremendous healing in marriages if the spouse who crossed the line does that sincere process of repentance before God, confesses it to their spouse without making excuses, without any ifs, ands or buts, and then they do some serious work on restoring their marriage. And this provides the opportunity for God to do a work in both of their hearts and it can actually lead to them having a stronger marriage than before. This can happen because, maybe for the first time, the couple are forced to deal with issues that have been below the surface that for whatever reason one or both of them have been reluctant to get into.

And so there is hope, there is hope in following after God. And knowing the fact that God sees all of your ways and knows the path you are on, and He is always waiting with open arms when you go down a path of sin that is destructive to you, your marriage, and your family, and then turn away from it and turn toward Him. Don’t hold back in reaching out to the Lord for the grace, the help, and the hope that He can provide.

Facebook is nothing more than a tool to communicate with others. Just be discerning about what you say, and to whom you say it.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



FACEBOOK AFFAIRS

This week on my Insight Today program I talked about Facebook and how various forms of social media are involved in so many extra-marital affairs. If you missed this program, be sure to go to the Insight Radio tab and listen to the podcast. I want to review some of the suggestions I provided on how to avoid a Facebook affair. I hope you will implement them in your use of Facebook or when you use social media.

First, work at making your marriage work. A strong relationship with your spouse is the best way to make your marriage affair-proof. Couples of all ages who are happily all give the same number one reason why this true for them. This counts for newlyweds, midlyweds, and oldlyweds. The number one reason they report is "my spouse is my best friend." My spouse is my best friend. Is that true for you and your spouse?
I think it is also essential to have meaningful communication with your spouse on a daily basis. And isn’t that an important part of any friendship? One test to know you are on dangerous ground is if you are talking to someone of the opposite sex on Facebook or other social media about things you used to talk to your spouse about. Or talking about things you should only be talking to your spouse regarding. One area that is an obvious danger zone is talking about sex, or what you like to do in bed, or asking this of the other person. Of course, having a satisfying sex life with your spouse is also important to keeping you from temptation of contemplating it with someone else.

Second, what is the condition of your heart? If in your heart you are thinking that you deserve to be happy, or my needs are paramount in your life no matter how they are met, you see sexual fulfillment not as a gift but as a need that has to be met. Maybe you want people to flatter you, or make you the center of their life. Any of these heart attitudes are really idols that have taken God’s rightful place in your life. And these idols will lead you down a path of the destruction of your marriage. Once you become open to any of these ideas, it will only take the right person to come along at the wrong time and sweep you off your feet. So make sure you are engaging with God on the level of your heart.
Maybe you have bought into the idea that is common in our society that being happily married involves finding and falling in love with the right person. There are many problems with this idea the most significant being that the scriptures say being happily married is not a matter of finding the right person, it is a matter of being the right person, becoming the right person, the husband or wife that God desires you to be.
And so you need to make sure you are engaging with you spouse as best friends, and you need to make sure you are engaging with God on the level of your heart. Proverbs 4:23, Guard your heart, it is the well spring of your life. Are you guarding your heart today? Are you guarding it for your spouse?

Third, give each other your Facebook account name and password so that you can both look at what is taking place on your news feeds, profiles, messages, and all of the rest of opportunities found on social media. I would also suggest that you tell each other who your new friends are and if there are any reservations from your spouse, drop that person as a friend. Don not accept past romantic interests as friends. Have a policy of openness with each other's Facebook accounts.

Fourth, make sure you spend more time talking to each other directly, and doing things with each other, compared to the amount of time you spend on Facebook or other computer activities. A big warning sign is if your spouse stays up later than your normal bed time spending time on Facebook.

A fifth idea is when you go on Facebook, do it when you are with your spouse. My wife and I are usually in the same room and in line of sight when we spend time on Facebook. We talk about what we are saying and doing, and with whom. “Hey look at this, or I’m talking with so and and so. It’s a very open kind of experience. We enjoy talking about it with each other.

Finally, if you wouldn't say something flirty or provocative with someone in person, don't say it on Facebook. It’s important to keep the same standards of morality and propriety you would have in any other context. Be the same person in private that you are in public.

Facebook is nothing more than a tool to communicate with others. Just be discerning about what you say, and to whom you say it. So what do you think about Facebook and how it can impact your marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts. You can do this two ways. You can go to the contact tab at the bottom of the page to email me or use the mailing address also listed there to send me a note.

Later this week I will do a second post on the steps you should take if you have crossed the line on social media so be sure to check that out.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



THE POWER OF GODLY DECISION MAKING, PART 2

This is the second week of our two part program with Dr. Karl Benzio on making better decisions. In today’s program Dr. Benzio unpacked in more detail the six part model of godly decision making. He uses the acronym SPEARS to refer to the components that should be a part of every decision.
1. STIMULI: This is any situation we face. It is important to remember that God is sovereign and brings events into our life for a purpose.
2. PERCEPTION: This is our viewpoint on the situation. Am I looking at it in a me-centered way or through godly lenses? My initial reaction is only part of the information necessary, but we usually react before we think.
3. EMOTION: This involves our feelings which are based on your perception, point of view. Emotions are a great warning system but are a terrible basis for making decisions. Feelings distort our perception of the situation.
4. ASSESSMENT: This is where you consider your options. Don’t act on the first one that comes to mind, you can always come back to it if no better ones surface. Weigh the pros and cons of each of the options. Your best decision might be a combination of a number of options.
5. RESPONSE: This is where you pull the trigger and make a decision. Here you want to consider WWJD (what would Jesus do?). Consider Mark 12:30 in your decision by asking if you are loving God and your neighbor and yourself in healthy ways.
6. SUMMARY THOUGHT: Here is where you evaluate you use of SPEAR. Was the process good, was your response beneficial?
Remember that decision making is a skill that anyone can learn, it just takes practicing making godly decisions and using the SPEARS method. Start reading the Bible to learn more about decision making and how the data God wants you to use about Him for you to be a more Godly decision-maker and brighter light in this dark world. SPEARS can not only help you to make more godly decisions, but you can also use it to evaluate decisions you have already made.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



THE POWER OF GODLY DECISION MAKING, PART 1

Today we began a two-part interview with Dr. Karl Benzio of Lighthouse Network on the Power of Godly Decision Making. Karl has been studying the scriptures and science to gain insight on how we make decisions, and how to make better decisions. We covered a lot of material today, and I want in this to share in this first part is review with you the scripture passages we used. Two of the thoughts he shared that are sticking with me is how much the Bible is about decision making, and how decision making is one of the few things we can control in life. Now the Bible is not a handbook on this topic, it is the story of God’s plan of redemption. But much of what we learn from the scriptures is in the context of the decisions people make. So let’s review some of the scriptures from today’s program in the order they appear in the Bible.
Genesis 3: The Fall of Adam and Eve. What decisions are revealed in the fall, and what decisions are implied (for example, Adam deciding not to intervene when Eve was ready to eat the apple)? What are the consequences of the Fall? You may also want to read Genesis 4 and contrast the decisions made by Cain and Abel.
Deuteronomy 30:11-20: Moses challenges the people to consider the choice of following God verses rejecting him. What are the consequences of their decision either way?
1 Kings 3: God gives Solomon the opportunity to ask Him for anything and he asks God for wisdom. What would your request be? How did God answer this request?
Proverbs 4:23: We are told to guard our hearts for it is the source of our lives. How can the condition of your heart direct your decision making? How can decision making impact your heart?
Romans 12:1-2: Here we are encouraged to make the decision to give ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. Why is this decision so important? What are the results of deciding to do this? How do the decisions we make transform our minds for the better or the worse?
2 Corinthians 10:5 We are told to take every thought captive to the Lordship of Christ. What is the connection between Godly decision making and the spiritual warfare described here?
Next week I will continue my discussion with Dr. Benzio and we will describe in more detail his model of Godly decision making, SPEARS, and give you practical examples on how to use it.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



GETTING TO THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO

Here are the passages we spoke of on Insight Today regarding why we say and do things the things we do. Be sure to go to the Radio Tab of the web site to re-listen to the program.

Luke 6:43-45, Matthew 7:15-20: What you do is driven by your heart.
Matthew 6:19-24: What you treasure will rule your heart.
Proverbs 4:23: The heart is the wellspring of your life.
Jeremiah 17: The true condition of your heart.
Psalm 139:1-4: God knows everything about you and your heart.
Hebrews 4:14-16: The hope of genuine change.
Psalm 139:23-24: A prayer for God to change your heart.

An additional passage I didn’t have time to look at is in James 4:1-10. Here you will see the heart struggle in action as he points out that the fights and quarrels we have are all about the passions at war within you, and that is the heart!

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



INSIGHT TODAY RADIO

Today brings the launch of a new outreach for our ministry, Insight Today on WFIL and WFIL.com. My hope is that God would use this weekly program to inform, encourage, and challenge you in the issues of life we all face in our personal lives, in our marriages and families. In the coming weeks we will be dealing with a lot of different issues: enhancing communication, facebook affairs, depression, effective decision making, protecting your child from sexual assault or abuse, resolving conflict, keeping your in-laws from becoming out-laws, single and parenting, just to name a few.
Here is a schedule for the next few weeks:

July 25: How to Have a Life-Long and Fulfilling Marriage
August 1: Getting to the Heart of Why We Do It.
August 8: The Power of Godly Decision Making with Dr. Karl Benzio (part 1)
August 15: The Power of Godly Decision Making with Dr. Karl Benzio (part 2)
August 22: Facebook Affairs
August 29: Protecting Your Child From Sexual Assault and Abuse with Dr. Justin Holcomb
September 6: Single and Parenting with Kim Alston

I welcome your suggestions for topics or questions you would like to see addressed on the program. Just use the �contact� button on the home page to send it by email. I hope you will listen in each week live on Saturday mornings at 8 on WFIL or catch the podcast through this web site or WFIL.com. Each program will be available for you as a podcast so you can listen any time if you miss the broadcast. I pray that God will use this ministry to make a difference in your life and in the lives of all who listen.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



The Gospel in Action

I recently caught the news story of a young pizza delivery driver, Josh Lewis a 19 year old college student from Louisville, Kentucky, who was on his way to deliver a pizza when things went terribly wrong. He was robbed and stabbed and had his car stolen on the way to the delivery. He was on his way to Norton Hospital where some staff had ordered the pizza. So he continued to the hospital and delivered it to the Emergency Room where he collapsed. Willow Rueben, the regional manager for the pizza chain recounted what happened, �I can�t believe he just walked in there and said, �Hi I�m from Spinelli�s, I have a pizza delivery� and then just collapsed.� He is reported to be recovering from a collapsed lung at the University of Louisville Hospital. Now as impressive as that may be, that is not the Gospel in action. After he began to recover, the local new media asked him what he would say to his assailant if he had the chance. Here is his reply, �I forgive him and would try to share the gospel with him and show him Christ.� Now that is the Gospel in action, and I hope we can all learn from this young man.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Responding to the Supreme Court Ruling by a Different Path

As many in our society embrace homosexuality, and now the Supreme Court has ruled on gay �marriage,� as Christ followers we cannot say we love our neighbor and be silent. There is too much at stake for those who embrace it and our society as a whole. As a Christ follower I sincerely believe that embracing homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10, Romans 1:22-26). The Supreme Court, while authoritative in our country, cannot redefine what only God can define. Scripture clearly defines marriage in Genesis 2, Jesus reaffirmed this definition in Matthew 19, and Paul expounded on the spiritual significance of it in Ephesians 5 (a passage ignore by many on both sides of the biblical-theological debate).

As I and others view it, many seem to see the whole issue of homosexuality divided into two opposing camps, those who celebrate it and those who hate it. There are growing numbers, under the pressure of today�s society, who praise homosexuality on the one end of the spectrum, and are increasingly hostile to those who express any dissenting view. And there are people who hate homosexuality and those who practice it, many with bigotry and apart from any Christian love. Both groups can be found within the church today. Much of what I have been reading before and since the ruling falls into one of those two groups. Those on the embracing side try to put everyone opposed to them into the box marked, �if you don�t agree with us, then you are a hater.� And those on the other extreme try to put everyone who embraces homosexuality into the box marked, �If you don�t hate them and what they stand for, then you are just as bad as they are.�

I think Christ calls us to say something very different from both groups. Different from the first group, we acknowledge God�s clear teaching in scripture that homosexual practice is sin. We don�t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them, we love them so much that we will not capitulate to society�s pressure and put their souls at risk. We will speak the truth in love and say �We love you, God says you are wrong, and He offers something much better for you.� This is the teaching of God�s word. He tells us we are wrong, that the wages of sin is death, that unrepentant rebellion leads to God�s judgment, and that the price for our sin made the death of His son necessary (Romans 3:23, John 3:26, Galations 3:13). God also tells us that we are loved, that even while we were sinners, Christ died for us, the unrighteous, He suffered in our place, and offers us the opportunity to become a child of God (Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 2:1-7). As Tim Keller puts it, �We�re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved that we could ever dream.�

In addition, we as Christ followers should acknowledge and repent of the fact that the church has often done a terrible job of interacting with those who embrace homosexuality. This does not mean that to build relationships that we have to compromise our biblical convictions on the sinfulness of this lifestyle, but before we say, �You are wrong, God offers something better for you� we need to say, �God loves you, and I love you.�

Finally, it is important to realize have been dealing with the problem of sex outside of traditional, God-defined, marriage in many ways. Gay sex is not morally more corrupt than straight sex outside of marriage. We need to not only articulate a more biblical view of marriage, including the gospel imperative that marriage is a reflection of the relationship of Christ and the church, but embrace a more gospel driven marriage culture. This is a culture where we do even more to prepare young people for marriage and equip them to live a gospel centered sexual ethic (as singles and as couples), strengthen the marriages in our church through its teaching ministries, assist couples who are struggling through counseling, and be faithful to the Matthew 18 mandate for church discipline where a couple is seeking divorce outside of what is biblically permissible.

The Christian church has been counter-cultural since its inception. This new ruling adds another facet to the opportunity to be salt and light in a fallen world as experienced in our nation. To my gay friends, God loves you, I love you, and God has something much better for you.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Grateful To Be a Dad

As I look back over the years I have been a dad, I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to raise three great children. I still remember the moments when each of them was born (my wife can�t remember, but I think God builds in an ability to forget what they just went through in giving birth!). I also remember the feeling of excitement but fear driving home from the hospital after our first child�s birth as I thought about the fact that I am now responsible for another life that is completely dependent on my wife and I.

We read in Psalm 127:4-5, �Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one�s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them�� Each phase of parenting presented its own set of joys and frustrations. I personally have enjoyed them in each age bracket. Holding our newborns and wondering what their future will be, to playing with them as toddlers, to tea parties, bike rides, and building legos, to science projects, teaching them to drive, having �the talk,� to watching them graduate from high school and college, it has been an incredible journey. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way so I am thankful for God�s grace and theirs.

Now that my dad is gone, I realize even more the important role he played in my life, and I will always be grateful to him. I am the one my kids come to for advice on life as an adult. I feel very blessed to be the father of our kids, and I look forward to the what the future holds for them, and for the next phase of being a dad which Proverbs 17:6 speaks of, �Children�s children are a crown to the aged�� Time will tell as the journey of life continues.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Reflecting on 30 Years of Marriage

As Phyllis and I celebrated our 30th anniversary today, it seems to me like a bigger milestone than our 25th. I�m not sure why that is. Maybe because now all of our children are in their 20�s, or the fact that the number begins with a three instead of a two makes it seem much bigger. I don�t know for sure, all I know is that it seems like a bigger number than when we reached our 25th.

As I think about how we made it this long, two words come to my mind, commitment and grace. Marriage is hard, and we have had our share of challenges, heartaches, problems, as well as joys, blessings, answers to prayer, and signs of God�s presence. It was during the difficult times that the degree of our commitment to each other, to our vows, and to God was tested. When times are good, it is easy and fun to be married to your best friend. It is when times are not so good that you find out what your marriage really means to you and your spouse. These are the times that drive you to your knees in prayer, when you have to love unconditionally, and live based on the promises you made to your spouse on your wedding day. God�s word speaks of this truth in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage giving us God�s definition of love. In verse 7 we read that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Notice how all inclusive this verse is, �all things� is the repeated refrain. Notice also the emphasis on commitment in that love bears all things and endures all things. You also see the importance of faith as in love we believe, and that we also look with optimism for the future God has in store for us as love is hopeful.

The other word that comes to mind is grace. Jay Adams once said these words about the Christian home: What does a truly Christian home look like? Is it an idyllic place where peace and quiet, tranquility and joy continuously reign? Definitely not! The first and most important fact to remember about a truly Christian home is that sinners live there. And so the need for grace. I sin against my wife, my wife sins against me, we both sin against God. I can be self-centered, grumpy, impatient, opinionated, prideful, just to name a few. This makes living with me frustrating at times. Grace in marriage means that my wife forgives me, and I forgive her. We both seek God�s forgiveness, and since our sins against the Lord far outweigh our sins against each other, how can we not extend grace toward each other? One scripture which comes to mind here is Colossians 3:12-13. It is a passage which speaks a lot of truth in many areas on marriage, not just forgiveness: Put on then, as God�s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. The standard we are given here is a high one, we are to forgive just as God has forgiven us. �But that�s not always easy Dr. Paul.� I know, but it is your only hope to have a lasting and meaningful marriage, because the power to forgive comes not from yourself, but from God.


Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.

Keeping Marriage Problems Smaller

How do you keep conflicts in your marriage from getting bigger than they need to be? Letting more time pass usually doesn�t make the problem go away or get better. Giving you and your spouse a little time to cool down before you try to resolve the conflict can be a good idea, as long as you come back to the discussion. But waiting days or weeks before you try to resolve the conflict only makes things worse, not better. It simply gives you too much time to stew over the disagreement and become more frustrated. So how do you keep this from happening?
Here is an idea I often give to couples in counseling and it involves having a weekly time to sit down to look back, and look forward. In looking back, you take time to talk about the previous week and express encouragement to your spouse for things he or she did that you appreciated. It also gives you the opportunity to bring up any problems, or issues that concern you from the previous week. Once you get it on the table, you can take some time to try to work it out before too much time goes by. If you are unable to resolve it, make a commitment to think and pray about it and set a time when you will work on it.
Next, look forward to the coming week to discuss what�s coming up. Plan ahead for any challenges you may be facing in the next few days. End your time by praying for each other and the issues you discussed.
I suggest having a regular time on Saturday or Sunday when you might have more time available. You want to avoid a weeknight or time when one or both of you may be too tired, or when the kids are running around. Making this a habit will enhance your communication and get you working together more as a team. The more you get the smaller conflicts resolved, the better equipped you will be to handle the bigger problems.


Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



A Final Farewell

I am praying for the family of Police Officer Brian Moore who is being laid to rest today and all of his fellow NYPD officers. I am also asking who will march for him? Who will cry for his mother this Sunday? As always, a long line of blue will march for him, no mayhem, no destruction, no f-bombs, no stomping on the flag, no grandstanding politicians. Today the flag flies proudly, hanging from the arch formed by two ladder trucks, flying on the mast of the motorcycle escort. The flag draped coffin will be lovingly carried to his final resting place only to be folded and presented with care to his grieving family. This long blue line will march with respect, dignity, and honor for a man who was willing to wear a badge, stand in harm's way, and gave his life protecting us. May he rest in peace. May we all learn from the contrast.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Financial Adultery

In my 30 years of counseling, one of the common reasons couples come for counseling is disagreements about money. It is one of the "Big 4" of marriage counseling (the other three are sex, kids, and in-laws). Infidelity in marriage is not limited to sex, but can also involve money. Some marriage therapists refer to this as "Financial Adultery." According to Jeffrey Drew, Ph.D. of Utah University, couples who argue about money at least once a week are 30% more likely to divorce. In addition, the more credit card debt, the more the couple will tend to argue about money issues and other issues in the marriage. Lying and keeping secrets about money in marriage is disloyal behavior and can be just as devastating as sexual infidelity. Here are some practices that are a part of financial adultery:
Hiding Money from Your Spouse. Let's say you get a bonus check from work, or win some money in the lottery, or get a larger than expected tax refund. Instead of telling your spouse about it, you keep it to yourself and stash the money somewhere or spend it on yourself. Maybe putting it in a rainy day fund is a better idea, but in all of these examples, not telling your spouse will leave them wondering what else you haven't been up front about.
Hiding Significant Purchases. You just have to get the latest ____________. To get it, you max out the credit card or just spend a big load of cash on it. This can impact your credit score and possibly your financial stability. This is simply a sin of omission (Oh Honey, I simply forgot to tell you about it).
Lying About the Real Price. This often happens because the one spouse is afraid if the other found out how much was spent, it would start an argument. So to avoid that, the amount of money spent is low balled. Or one that a lot of wives seem to use, "But look how much money I saved." Not.
Spending Money on your Addictions. I have seen so much damage and hurt caused by this one. Often to fuel the addiction, the person will steal money, forge their spouses name to get a loan or additional credit cards to fuel it, even engage in theft.
Racking Up Credit Card or Loan Debt. This doesn't just happen to fuel an addiction, it can be done to spend money on just about anything. This can be very damaging in the marriage as it could hurt the couple's credit score, which could then lead to a denial of a mortgage, home equity loan, car loan, etc.
Taking Out One or More Credit Cards in Your Own Name and Not Telling Your Spouse. At this point in our discussion, this should be a no-brainer. Like many of the these practices, it involves deception and withholding of important information from the person's spouse.
Loaning or Giving Money to Family or Friends. This one can cause a lot of hard feelings, especially when the money isn't paid back. I have also seen this create problems in blended families where a spouse will give or lend money to their children from the first marriage, without consulting first with the current spouse. A recipe for marriage disaster!
So what is the answer for all of this. First, establish and budget and actually stick to it. Second, have a policy of complete honesty and openness in the handling of money in your marriage. No secrets, no lies, just be honest. Third, if you have been guilty of committing financial adultery, confess it to your spouse and seek to get things back on track with your finances. Fourth, seek out sound financial advice from books and tapes from authors like Dave Ramsey, or take Financial Peace University when it is offered at your church or near-by location.


Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Who Has the Best Sex?

So who has the best sex, the single person who seeks out the next hook-up, the couple who live together, or the married couple? The answer may surprise you, it is the married couple. And it's not just the young married couple. According to the researchers at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, married people have sex much more than single people. According to their research, 61% of singles had not been intimate in the last 12 months, compared to only 18% of married couples. According to research reported in the Journal of Marital Therapy, married couples with an active sex life report higher levels of satisfaction in their marriage, and in life. Couples who had less frequent sex have lower relationship satisfaction. In the report "Sexuality in Marriage, Dating, and Other Relationships: A Decade Review," and published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, married couples have higher levels of sexual satisfaction. Singles and cohabiting couples report much lower levels of sexual satisfaction.
According to a survey conducted by iVillage, love is enough to turn on married couples, 59 % of women, and 50% of men state that love for their spouse is enough to get them turned on. The same survey found that sex became more predicable after marriage, and this is not a bad thing for most men and women. According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a surprising number of couples who have been together for more than 50 years are having more sex. Mature married couples say that frequent and satisfying sex are one of the reasons they have a better marriage and happiness in life in general.
It is very interesting to me that, once again, the secular research here actually supports a biblical view of sexuality. We learn from the Scriptures that God created us as sexual beings, and sex is meant to be enjoyed, and not just for procreation (Proverbs 5:15-21; Song of Solomon; 1 Corinthians 7:1-7). Our Creator, knowing how sex works best, places sex within the context of heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24-25; Proverbs 18:22; Mark 10:6-9; Romans 1:18-27, Hebrews 13:4). I think God does this for two reasons, to protect and to provide. He wants to protect us from physical and emotional harm. And He wants to provide the best place for our sexuality to thrive.
What difference does a marriage commitment make for a couple's sex life? When a couple commits to each other in marriage first, they are making an unconditional promise and commitment to each other, that no matter what, they are in this relationship for life. When a couple have that unconditional commitment, they are saying that no matter what happens in the bedroom, they are here to stay. This means that sex is no longer a test, but is now a beautiful expression of the life-long, trusting, loving relationship. Sex thrives in the context of trust and unconditional commitment. It changes the relationship from, "if you love me, you will let me be intimate with you" to "I love you, period." Having this provides the basis for greater oneness in not only in the bedroom, but in every aspect of a couple's relationship.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



The Second Most Important Step in Saving your Marriage

What does it take to save your marriage? You feel unfulfilled, unloved, disrespected. You and your spouse seem to be spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. One or both of you feel trapped. Hope is fading fast. What steps can you take to try to save your marriage? Notice I entitled this post the Second Most Important Step in Saving your Marriage. No, it's not a misprint. The first step is recognizing that your marriage is in trouble. Not everyone gets that. I can't tell you how many people have been in my office after being told by their spouse that the marriage is over and they had no idea the depth of how he/she was dissatisfied and just wanted out. I have even had a number of people who didn't get it until they were served with divorce papers. So the first step is an important one, recognizing there is a problem.
The second step, and one that I find can be the hardest to do, is stop looking at all of the problems and deficiencies of your spouse, and start looking in the mirror. You have to recognize that unless your spouse is a substance abuser, and/or physically abusing you, you too have contributed to the problems in your marriage. You and your spouse are both sinners, both in need of God's grace. On top of that, the only person you can change is you, not your spouse, not your kids, you are the only one you can change. Jesus talked about how we tend to focus on the problems of others while ignoring our own when he said these words, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Le me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." We are so quick to see the faults of the other person, but fail to pay attention to the problems we have. Notice the picture Jesus paints here, it is the difference of a speck of sawdust compared to a log! Most couples in marital distress have the exact opposite view. The problems in their spouse is the size of a log while the problems they contribute are the speck.
If you are going to save a marriage that is going down hill fast, you have to stop "speck picking" your spouse, and start dealing with what you are doing to bring down the relationship. I know you probably feel very justified in your complaints against your spouse, and they probably have merit, but simply focusing on their deficiencies and trying to get them to change is not gong to save your marriage. You have to start with yourself. And to help you do that, let me give you a prayer right out of the Bible that can help you keep your perspective, and be a means of seeking God's help to do this. It is a prayer written at the end of Psalm 139 and it says this: "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way." Notice the focus of the prayer. It isn't, "Search my spouse and help my spouse see all the things they are doing wrong, and fix him/her." The prayer is focused solely on the one praying it.
Saying this prayer on a regular basis isn't going to do everything that needs to be done to save your marriage, but it is a start. God hears and answers prayers like this, use this prayer to not only seek God's help, but to also help to change your perspective on who and what needs to change.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



How To Have a Happy Marriage From People Who Know (Part 3 of 3)

Today I want to share some of my thoughts about the different points from Pillemer�s work to examine couples who have been happily married for decades. For more information on his study, see parts 1 and 2. So here we go!
Follow Your Heart: This one can trip you up. Yes, there is certainly something to the feeling of being in love with someone, and certainly you don�t want to marry someone just because �it is time.� But, feelings are not what are gong to sustain a happy marriage in the long run. As Pillimer noted in my introduction to this study, marriage is work, hard work. As people who see me for counseling know, I detest the idea of �falling in love.� People fall in ditches, potholes, trenches, and man holes, you don�t fall in love. You didn�t fall in love. You met someone with qualities you liked and made a conscious decision to get to know him/her. The other way this can trip you up is when you are dating and engaged, relying too much on feelings can blind you, or cause you to sugar coat, problems or issues that need to be resolved.
Use Your Head: I think this is a great balance to the first point about following your heart. If there is one thing I try to emphasize with couples in pre-marital counseling it is this point. Be sure to pay attention to little things that give you a clue to how this person is when not around you.
Look for someone with similar values: Not much to say here, this one is right on the money in my opinion.
Talk, talk, talk. Here we are talking about the life blood of the relationship, the oil that keeps the engine running. I love his example of can you go out for a two-hour dinner and keep an interesting conversation going. If there is one thing that can trip up a marriage, it is assumptions and expectations. The way to keep these from derailing your relationship is to communicate. This is part of where the work of marriage comes in. When you are first in love, it is easier to communicate because you are getting to know each other and there is a certain about of infatuation. As the years of marriage grind on, and kids come on the scene, it takes time and effort to keep communicating as you once did.
Tread carefully when discussing difficult topics: I�m not sure about the food issue he states, but I know I can get grumpy when I am hungry! Timing and giving yourselves a break from the argument are good, just make sure you get back to discussing it so it can be resolved. A helpful scripture here is Ephesians 4:29-30.
Put your relationship first. Yes, yes, yes! The ultimate first is your relationship with God, then your spouse, and then everyone else.
Lighten up on in-law relationships. Good points here. When I was in graduate school and we studied marriage and family counseling, my professor talked about the �big three� of why couples come for counseling, money, sex, and kids. I have since added a fourth, dealing with your in-laws and extended family. Enough said.
Stay out of debt. This is also one of the �big three.� I recommend anything by Dave Ramsey, or taking the Financial Peace University classes.
Focus on small things to keep the spark alive. I find that one nice, small act of love, kindness, or appreciation goes a long way. Let your spouse know they matter to you, and you are thinking of them.
Enjoy Intimacy. While sex is not the basis of a marriage, a healthy sex life is the result of a healthy marriage, and was created by God for us to enjoy, within a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
Respect each other. Again, some good advice here. Respect does involve listening attentively to your spouse, along with valuing them for who they are, their opinion, feelings, etc.
I found this study by Pillemer to be very interesting and I think we in America should do more to listen and respect those who are our seniors. They have a lifetime of wisdom and life experience to share.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



How to Have a Happy Marriage From People Who Know, Part 2 (of 3)

Last week I shared some of the results from a significant study of senior adults by gerontologist Dr. Karl Pillemer from Cornell University. on how to have a happy marriage for the long haul. He conducted 700 interviews with people 65 and older in what he calls The Marriage Advice Project. See last week�s blog for more details about the study and the first half of the findings he reported. Here are the rest of the advice he gained from his interviews:
Tread carefully when discussing difficult topics. If you want smooth marital communication, timing is critical. Read cues from your partner to decide the best time to raise an issue. When things aren�t going well in a discussion, back off, Pillemer says. He also points out that one surprising finding from his research is retirees said that sometimes their marital arguments might be related to one or both of them needing to get something to eat. Whether it is low blood sugar or just the need for comfort, food seems to help tone down conflict. One couple said when they were having a tiff, she offers her husband a sandwich, and he offers her a cup of tea.
Put your relationship first. Your relationship with your spouse has to come before the kids, in-laws, jobs, friends, and anything else, retirees said. You don�t do your children much good if your marriage dries up.
Lighten up on in-law relationships.
Many of the elder experts said you don�t marry a person; you marry his or her family. People should work hard on the relationship with their in-laws, even though it may mean compromise, withholding opinions and searching for points to respect and admire.
Stay out of debt.
The couples in this study recommended living within whatever amount of money you make and avoiding debt, especially for luxury items and credit-card debt.
Focus on small things to keep the spark alive. Pillemer says, �Marriage is made of thousands of micro intentions.� The retirees said to keep those interactions positive: give compliments, do unexpected little things like the other person�s chores. Many of those interviewed said the failure to give and receive compliments was one of their big regrets.
Enjoy Intimacy. Many older people who have a partner �are having very fulfilling sex lives. People really enjoy the sense of intimacy with a lifelong partner� according to Pillemer. He goes on to say, �one of my favorite quotes in the book was the guy who said, �Look at our age this is recreation, not procreation.�
Respect each other. This means paying attention to how you say things, and listening and showing that you are listening to what your partner says. �Long-married retirees say the real danger of marriage is that you know someone so well that they are extremely vulnerable to you. You have the ability to hurt them more than anybody else you know. Respect is the protection against that,� says Pillemer.
So there you have it, how to have a long, happy marriage from people who know. In my next post I will comment on the points made from this study. What do you think about the results from this study?

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



How to Have a Happy Marriage From People Who Know, Part 1

Since it is Valentine's Day and everyone is thinking about love, or the lack thereof, I would like to share the results of an interesting study on how to be happily married, and for the long-haul. I normally don�t spend much time reading material from gerontologists, but recently Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontology professor did a study of hundreds of seniors asking them the secret to a happy marriage. He spent the last four years conducting what he calls the Marriage Advice Project. He did interviews with more than 700 retirees, 65 and older, who were married for an average of 43 years. The longest was a marriage of 76 years between a 101 year-old man and a 98 year-old woman. His sample included some people who were happily married for years, those who were widowed, and those who had been through multiple marriages and divorces. As my wife and I look forward to our 30 wedding anniversary this June, and looking at his study from a Christian perspective, it was interesting to me to see what the people in his study had to say, and consider my perspective in comparison.
So what did they have to say? According to Pillemer, overall they said, �marriage is hard. It takes spirit and resilience. It is something you work at and get better at, but it is never completed.� If there is one thing from this study I agree with, it is this, marriage does take work, hard work. People too often think that it is just supposed to happen. It doesn�t just happen, it takes making it a priority and working at it. He also speaks of another valuable perspective that can only come with age and experience, �when you look back from the finish live over half century or more of marriage, lifelong marriage is incredibly good. It�s almost indescribable. It�s such a source of joy.� I�m not there yet, but looking at my marriage over these thirty years, there have been some serious hurdles, and with longevity comes a sense of satisfaction and joy that runs deeper.
Here are some of the retirees� insights on marriage. I am using his bullet point titles in bold print, and I will reserve comment on each of these until we get through them all. I plan to do this in three parts so keep coming back!
Follow your heart when choosing a spouse. According to Pillemer, retirees� believe you need to experience that �in-love� feeling with the person you marry, and if you don�t have that, you probably shouldn�t get married. He goes on to say, �all too many people get married with a not-in-love or this-is-wrong feeling, but you have to trust your instinct. One hundred percent of the elders described a sensation of rightness. If you lack that feeling, and you are just going into marriage because it�s time, they say it�s very likely not going to work out well.�
Use your head. The seniors in this study believe you can�t know for sure if the person is right for you, but you can increase the odds if you follow your head and look at important things as whether your potential spouse will be financially responsible, be a good parent, etc. You need to look at traits such as honesty, fidelity, compassion, and having a sense of humor.
Look for someone with similar values. Pillemer points out that while there is a popular myth that opposites attract, these long-term married retirees say that is not true. �They say a little bit of difference is good, but the fundamental reason is to marry someone a lot like you. Some differences can work, but if you have real differences in core values you�re not likely to last very long.� Some of the areas they stressed are similar values about religion, money, child rearing, how you want to spend your time, and the importance of career.
Talk, talk, talk. All of the people in this study talked about the importance of communication. According to these retirees, the �strong, silent type� may be attractive for a time, but usually doesn�t make the best lifelong partner. Here is a test they propose: Can you go out for a two-hour dinner and keep an interesting conversation going? If not, you need to work on your communication.
I will share the rest of Pillemer's findings in my next post, and then provide my thoughts in a third and final post.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.



Living the "Lie"

This week I want to feature Susan Sciarratta from our counseling team. Her post is about how we can get caught up in self-deception.

As we grow up, we make meaning from all the things that we do and experience. Even the same event can be experienced differently by two people depending on what it means to them. A late afternoon thunderstorm may be an answer to a farmer�s prayer or a cancellation for a boy�s first baseball game.
Likewise, our experiences can shape our beliefs, often without us realizing it. For example, maybe you have a habit of always blaming other people for your personal misfortunes. Where did that come from? Somewhere along the way, you decided that nothing is ever your fault. Maybe you think that life should always be fair, or that all conflict must be avoided, or that you need to have everyone�s approval. These are lies that we believe, and the problem is that trying to live according to these lies and absolutes will eventually lead to disappointment and confusion.
Before you start thinking that Christians are exempt from these lies, think again. Christians shouldn�t show anger. Good Christians don�t get depressed. God can�t use me unless I am living a squeaky clean life. God will never forgive �that� sin. God wants me to be happy all the time. God will protect me from pain and suffering. Do any of these sound familiar to you or someone you love? Maybe you remember a specific time in your young life that led you to believe it, or maybe it took some years to develop this belief.
The next time �life� disappoints you, make a responsibility pie. Which slice belongs to you, and which to others? Does this situation impact what you think about yourself, or about God? Is there a Scripture or Bible story that parallels this situation? If this has happened before, was the outcome what you had expected? Were things ever not what they seemed at the time? Challenge yourself to seek the truth. Ask God to shine His light into the darkness of the lies, and rewrite that lie into a truth that will set you free from the chain of self-deception.

Susan Sciarratta

Susan Sciarratta

Christian Counselor

Susan has her master's in Christian Counseling and we are excited to have her. Her areas of counseling specialty include women's issues, relationship and marriage counseling, pre-marital, childhood abuse or sexual abuse, grief, depression, suicidal thoughts, and working with adolescents.



The Saddest Day of the Year

Feeling depressed today? You�re not alone, today is �Blue Monday,� a day many consider to be the saddest day of the year. And just why is this day the gloomiest? A number of reasons are given:

-All of the credit card bills from Christmas and Hannukah are coming in.
-You are starting to get your W-2�s and 1099�s which remind you that tax season is coming.
-Your New Year�s resolutions are losing steam or have stopped altogether.
-The days are still short and the nights are still long, and if you live in cold weather climates, the weather often stinks.
-In the Northern Hemisphere, Spring seems to be a long way off.
-Any negative changes in your pay start showing up in your paycheck. If you got a raise, you see how much more in taxes are being taken.
-The full impact of Obamacare is now in place.
-If you are a Republican, you have to endure another State of the Union speech by President Obama.
-If you are a Democrat, you are now the minority in both houses of Congress.

Feeling depressed yet? And if you are off from work today, you have more time to worry about all of this. What are some of the solutions offered? One that many people take is to get high or intoxicated. One expert I saw on the news suggested eating certain �comfort foods� can raise your mood. Her best suggestion in my mind was eating chocolate, a no-brainer for lifting my mood. Many offer any number of medications as a temporary solution.
Isn�t there an answer that goes deeper, more to the core of who you are? An answer that would make you less vulnerable to the changing circumstances of life and the date on the calendar? I want to suggest to you a deeper and more meaningful connection with your Creator. The Bible presents God as the One who is everywhere present, all powerful, all knowing who created us to be in relationship with Him (see Psalm 139). And as God, He says that you can have genuine peace and hope through knowing Him (Isaiah 26:3, Jeremiah 29:11). Jesus Himself offers this promise, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. If you want to be able to live in peace regardless of your circumstances, the only way to do this is in connection with God.
The apostle Paul picks up on this realization and describes the reality of it in his life. A life, by the way, that was full of terrible circumstances that would depress anyone (see 2 Corinthians 11:22ff.). He describes this in Phillipians 4:11-13, Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Did you catch what Paul is saying? He says that he has learned how to be content regardless of his circumstances. How is that possible? Paul says it comes through his connection to Christ.
Feeling depressed? Looking for an answer that runs deeper and impacts the core of your being? Do you want to live a Paul did? Reach out to us and let us help you find the answers God has for you.

Blessings,
Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul Randolph

Church Pastor/Christian Counselor

Dr. Paul also has extensive experience working with pastors, missionaries, as well as first responders and members of the military. Our ministry is based in Southeastern PA with office locations in Southampton and Northeast Philadelphia.