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Friday, 30 October 2009

ARE MATERIAL THINGS YOUR ONLY JOY?

My sister has just returned from an extended trip to Bangladesh. She tells of appalling poverty and all its attendant problems- lack of adequate safe drinking water, beggars on the streets, lepers and ill people simply lying down where they fall in the street, waiting to die, as they can not afford to be treated by a doctor. Yet she tells me, the people she got to know have a joy and exuberance for life that is infectious. She was often a guest at their homes- homes they were immensely proud of, yet by our standards, were not even fit to be a chicken coup. Just bits of corrugated iron standing against a building wall or a rickety hut on stilts and built on the edge of a sewerage infected river.

Now I certainly wouldn’t want to have to live like that. But then I wasn’t born in a third-world country. I have choices that can make my life more enjoyable. But what if I didn’t? What would I be like if I lost all my possessions? Do I cling tightly to my possessions to the point that they have become my source of happiness and well-being? I am sure I would miss my possessions- but losing them wouldn’t put me in such a tail-spin that I couldn’t recover my sense of well-being and joy of life. Many people cling so closely to the myriad of possessions they have and get so involved in accumulating more and maintaining it that it does become their sense of identity and joy. Life is more than possessions.

I believe that God calls us to be good stewards of our finances, home and possessions. But if ever we find that our happiness and fulfillment comes from them, then we are in danger of becoming idolatrous. I am sure we can think of many people whose whole life is wrapped up in their home, clothing, cars and so on. Their whole life’s purpose is to accumulate more and maintain it to the exclusion of all else. Including God. They have not realised that our identity is in who we are in Christ, not who we are in designer clothes, fast cars and huge houses. If we exclude all else then we are in danger of losing ourselves and the joy of living with just what we need. Because materialism and accumulating possessions grows into greed and discontentment. We never have enough.

The people of Bangladesh have nothing, but have learned through necessity that true happiness is not found in possessions. They have channeled their energies into building a strong network of support in family and friends. For the little they do have, they are grateful and happy. Would we be as grateful if we had little worldly possessions? I am sure most of us wouldn’t be.

As lovely as all our labour saving devices, leisure toys, our beautiful clothing and palatial homes are (I say palatial because even the smallest apartment would be a palace to impoverished Bangladeshi people), we must guard against making them our primary source of happiness and identity. World events recently have shown how quickly we can have these things snatched from us. If we have clutched these things too tightly to ourselves, and have placed our happiness in materialism’s hands and not God’s, then we are in for a very rough ride if something deprives us of them.

Saint Paul has said that he has learnt to be happy in plenty and in lack. It is a very profound statement. The question we should ask ourselves is: have we? And if we honestly find that we can’t be happy in lack, then we should do some honest soul searching! Happiness should not be wrapped up in our abundance of things, but firstly in our salvation and then in our network of family and friends. It is not wrong to have possessions in abundance. But it is wrong to place one’s self-esteem, identity and happiness in its pursuit.

Can we still sing a song of praise to God amidst lack or loss of our worldly possessions? It is a question worth asking ourselves: and it’s one only we can answer. May you find that you can answer truthfully and say that material things are not your only source of happiness and be able to declare as Saint Paul:

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” Philippians 4:11-12


© Glenys Robyn Hicks

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34

Sunday, 18 October 2009

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE PEARLS BOOKS


All my writings are a call for common sense and balance in Jesus’ Name! Jesus taught balance in all His sermons. In every thing we should weigh up what is written against the Word of God and not take any persons' message as gospel.

In particular, I am speaking of Debi and Michael Pearls' teachings in their books To Train Up A Child and Created To Be His Helpmeet. After reading them, some people rave of benefits to their marriage and in child training, while most are floundering in guilt because nothing is helping. Quite often, because the Pearls imply that mostly the woman has the power to change things. Obviously, God is the One Who changes things and all other efforts are doomed to failure. Reliance on God is not stressed in the books, in fact, self-reliance are preached. Talk about building your house on the sand!

However, there is a grain of truth in their books. Let’s acknowledge what little is good in these books, but try and put out the fire of damage that it has the potential of doing in the lives of those who take the Pearls advice to the extreme…I know without a doubt that there will be people who are hurt by over zealous application of some of the basically unsound and unscriptural suggestions regarding suffering in marriage and in child training!

We need to pray for these wives and children…they will be the ones suffering whilst the few who report good changes in their marriages and family rejoice! Only the LORD will know how many really will profit by these applications.

© Glenys Robyn Hicks


Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Psalm 82:3

Saturday, 17 October 2009

I LOVE MY ROSE-COLOURED GLASSES



After my critique of Created To Be His Helpmeet, I received some not so kind comments, one in particular from a lady called M....here is my response to M for stating that I over reacted because of my abusive ex-husband and that this had "coloured my lenses"..

I reflected on M’s comment regarding my first abusive marriage and I had to concede that it had indeed ‘coloured my lenses’ in how I think about women suffering in silence at the hands of a violent husband. It has ‘coloured my lenses’ in how I see the church in general counsel the abused wife- and it certainly has ‘coloured my lenses’ to how I respond to the erroneous advice Debi Pearl dishes out to the suffering wife.

So, I stand guilty of having coloured lenses. I stand guilty of being sensitive to the weak, afraid and hurting godly wife who is abused. I weep when I read or hear of children living with domestic abuse. My lenses are very coloured here because I was raised in a home of not one, but two alcoholics (an uncle who lived with us), who made our lives miserable. My father would often push my mother and I would have to push him off her….yes, it coloured my lenses.

I cry for the children enduring not only the violence that alcoholism brings into the home, but these days- the drugs! My heart is heavy as I relive the pain of domestic violence seen through children’s eyes. And I cry for the feelings of powerlessness that it evokes in all on the receiving end.

When a book such as CTBHH comes along, I am hopeful that it will have real “meat” for the abused wife- some hope and helpful comments to encourage and edify! There are many that do address this issue-alas, CTBHH is not one of them. For the issue is almost deliberately side-stepped, leaving the reader with sand in her mouth.

So, why do I write about this in my blog? Is it a vent for my years of trouble? A cathargic release leading to healing? A bid to become “known” as a Christian writer? God forbid, none of these things! My primary focus is to encourage women- all women: single, happily married, unhappily married, divorced or separated or widowed. I truly love my Sisters in Christ everywhere and I try to uplift and edify them- because of love. God knows, I have had many things happen to me in 63 years: I simply share them in what I hope are transparently honest posts.

My heart is sad that CTBHH is such a divisive book- one is forced to take a stance one way or the other. This should not be! Sisters should support each other in the LORD not fight each other over this issue or anything else. I am sad that Debi and Michael Pearl’s Ministry opportunity was so badly squandered. So much good could have come from them if they had stuck to scripture and had not only compassion, but commonsense!

So I say simply- I stand with the weak and afraid, the uncertain and the searching! I stand with the little children who are switched from an early age- and I stand (trembling) against the sinful husbands who have to take responsibility for their own actions and who must stop pointing the finger at their wives. And I stand against Ministries that offer vinegar to the thirsty and switches for loving discipline and cuddles. I don’t think I stand alone…..


© Glenys Robyn Hicks



Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Psalm 82:3

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

SICK WIVES ARE DESPISED


I have recently read Debi Pearl's book "Created To Be His Helpmeet" Frankly, I think the book is scripturally unsound and borders on demeaning and insulting to women. What Debi Pearl says about the sick wife is just one area where I find a lack of compassion and an almost mysogynistic outlook. Here is what she says:
"being pitiful, hurt, discouraged and even sickly is one side of a “bad marriage” coin. Men in general (your husband in particular), are repulsed by women who project this image. A man’s spirit tells him his woman is rejecting him manipulating him when she regularly manifests a broken spirit, and he will react in anger.”
As a woman who suffers from illnesses that cause chronic pain and fatigue, I am so overjoyed to report that my husband doesn’t treat me as a faulty appliance which causes him great anger, but he cherishes me and tries to alleviate my suffering on bad days by sharing in my tasks and closing an eye to that which can’t be done on any particular day. After all, we promised to love each other in sickness and in health. Isn’t that type of commitment what God wants in marriage? So this chapter got me thanking God for the blessing of a husband who puts me first when I need it.

We Sacrificial Home Keepers have enough on our plates already: trying to cope with our illness, be a good wife and mother and run our home. We often deal with disbelieving family members when the illness is an invisible illness like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Most likely you too have thought, like I do, that sometimes it would be easier to have an illness or disability that is highly visible rather than endure snide remarks about laziness and so on as we battle on.

Debi and Michael Pearl lack compassion, empathy and love. In my opinion, they lack many Christlike attributes that are the hallmark of a Christian. To put such a heavy yoke onto a sick woman's shoulders is to cause her added stress and anxiety. It is not the way of Christ.

I believe that the majority of sick women fight a courageous battle and do an overwhelmingly good job of being a Helpmeet to their husband. They are usually the hardest on themselves for they want to do that which their healthier Sisters do and they often fail. They do not need the likes of some author (Christian or not), putting the boot in and blaming them for their husbands' anger and spiritual unease. Nor do they need to be made anxious about their marriage.

Over the years, I have observed marriages where the wife is ill and I have seen that the majority of husbands are not as Debi Pearl claims. They love their wife and usually do all they can to support her in her homemaking efforts. They bring their children in line and demand that they take their mothers' health into consideration.

This is the love Christ wants for us, not the "love" portrayed by Debi Pearl. We would do well to reject her ideas on the sick spouse and to thank God that we have the Holy Spirit to lead us into Truth. He is indeed our Comforter.

© Glenys Robyn Hicks

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
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