The Greater Offense

By: Ab Abercrombie, Ph.D.Stormy skys

Mirriam-Webster defines an offense as: “An act of stumbling; a cause or occasion of sin; and/or something that outrages the moral or physical senses.” Most married couples seeking the support of a biblical counselor will report any number of such offenses. Their focus however is horizontal in its orientation. In other words, the husband and wife can readily report when, where, and how they have offended each other; but most fail to recognize the offense they have committed against God. Scripture tells us that this is the greater offense and that we must address ourselves vertically first, if we are to become the husband or wife we are directed to be.

Within the construct of the relational gospel, sin toward God has been largely replaced with the concept of error and failure between people. We are much more focused upon the needs of one another, than we are directed toward sanctification and holy conduct before God. As a result, our relational perspective is one of exchanging behaviors that fulfill our mates, instead of developing a connected and abiding relationship through Christ that builds and sustains godly character, integrity, and consistency under the marital covenant.

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Marriage God’s Way: The Husband’s Call

By: Dr. Ab and Karen AbercrombieWedding hands

Excerpt taken from Christian Shrinks Answer ALL Your Questions…(No Couch Required), Xulon Press, 2005

What does the Bible say about the role of the husband in the home?

Biblically, the man is called to be the priest of his home.  He is directed to love, honor, protect, and lead; indeed he is held to a very high standard of accountability.  One of the first instructions given to the husband is the most basic, yet the most demanding:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Eph 5:25)

This scripture is a powerful calling.  It is an instruction to minister to our home as Christ ministered to the church.  If we are to love as Jesus loved, then we are to be close and active, not distant and passive.

There was nothing passive about our Lord’s love for us.  God could have loved us from the heavens, but instead drew near and demonstrated His love in an active, behavioral expression.

Jesus touched (Matt 8:1-3); He healed (Matt 14:14); He instructed (Mark 10:1); He provided (Mark 6:37-44); He prayed (John 17:13-21); He forgave (Matt 9:2); He resisted temptation (Heb 4:15); He served (Mark 10:45); and finally, He sacrificed all (John 19:30).

Using our Savior as the template of comparison, allow us to inquire:

  • Do you touch your wife as Jesus touched?  His touch was filled with understanding and compassion.  It was a touch that gave but did not take.  Touching your wife physically in this way assures her of your commitment and love for her (2 Cor 7:3).
  • When your wife is in pain, do you promote healing?  Our wives need to know they can bring their injuries and needs to us.  They need us to be engaged, interested, and invested in reestablishing their peace (Gal 6:2).
  • As the spiritual leader of the home, is your study of God’s Word faithful so that you can instruct and encourage your wife? A man cannot feed others unless he is fed.  Your fervent attention to learning the Bible will allow you to lead your family from a Christian worldview and will transform not only your message but also your heart (Heb 4:12, 1 Cor 14:35).
  • Are you providing for your family’s financial needs and security?  So many families today are overburdened by debt and commitments beyond their means, creating tremendous stress.  Financial problems are cited as the second leading cause of divorce.  Fiscal responsibility and leadership from the husband is central to protecting the home (1 Tim 5:8).
  • Are you in prayer for your wife and with your wife?  Do you make it a priority to lift her needs to God and to share the intimacy of prayer together?  Research tells us that less than 1 percent of couples who regularly pray together get divorced (Jas 5:16).
  • Do you forgive as Christ forgave?  Can you resolve and release the issues that divide you, or do you harbor them in your heart, allowing anger and sin to take root?  Studies tell us that the capacity to forgive is fundamental to the maintenance of good healthy relationships (Eph 4:26-27).
  • When temptation comes, what do you do?  There is no safe level of thought or deed when it comes to sin.  Any compromise or concession made by the man will affect his family (Gal 5:9). Boundaries are essential if we are to preserve the marital covenant.  We must actively pursue God’s cover and protection for our homes on a daily basis (Eph 6:10-18).
  • How do you serve your bride?  Whether in small matters or large, serving our wives is one of the foremost ways to demonstrate honor.  It expresses consideration, it defines her as valuable, and it produces a climate of mutual respect and loyalty.  Do something unexpected that reminds her of her precious place in your life (John 13:14-15).
  • Finally, is your love sacrificial?  Jesus gave everything for those entrusted to His care, and husbands are called to do the same (Luke 9:23). What can you sacrifice today that will bless your wife?  Is it time at work, hours watching T.V., attitudes or ambitions, behaviors or habits?  If it limits or injures the marriage, it needs to go.

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Marriage God’s Way: The Wife’s Call

By: Dr. Ab and Karen AbercrombiePre-marriage bride & groom hold hands

Excerpt taken from: CHRISTIAN SHRINKS Answer ALL Your Questions…(No Couch Required), Xulon Press, 2005.

THE WOMAN’S CALL

What does the Bible say about the wife’s role in the marriage and home?

God’s Word tells us that the wife is indeed unique, created in a manner unlike any other creature.  Do you realize that God spoke the world and all its creatures into existence?  He made man from the dust of the earth brought to life by His very breath.  But, God created woman from the rib of man.  God didn’t do this because he needed a spare part!   We see this as the ultimate expression of intimacy between a man and woman, and it reflects the Creator’s plan for oneness in the marital bond (Gen 2:1-25).

God could have created woman through any means, but He chose this rendering of life so that man and woman were forever to be “one flesh” (Gen 2:24).  This reality does away with the idea that husbands and wives are to be independent of one another.  Instead we are to relate in an interdependent way.  Each is different, yet each bears gifts and strengths central to the union.  Remove the idea from your mind that dependency is bad.  God requires our dependency on Him and has joined husband and wife in just such a manner.  Early in Genesis, God describes the primary role of woman:

“…I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Gen 2:18b)

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Repentance and Forgiveness in the Family

Couple argue back to back Dr. Ab Abercrombie

Actions and behaviors are damaging. Things said and done between people often provoke emotions that are hurtful, even destructive, over time. Often, it is the root of bitterness and unforgiveness that lies at the core of unresolved issues and without attention, can deceive and destroy the peace of our relationships. Unforgiveness undermines:

  • Our relationship with God and places us in a state of disobedience.
  • Our communication with loved ones and provokes a state of disharmony.
  • Our self-awareness building instead a response of righteous indignation that becomes impenetrable and condemning over time.
  • Our willingness to reconcile, resting instead in our “right” to feel as we do, justifying the return of sin for sin, reviling for reviling, and evil for evil.

The Bible is clear concerning this topic…the heart condition of unforgiveness is unacceptable to the LORD who calls believers to display His character and standards toward others. Jesus said:

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15).

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Husband the High Calling of God

By: W.P. “Ab” Abercrombie, Ph.D. Serious Man

After decades of “wise” instruction from the likes of Sigmund Freud, Hugh Hefner, and Dr. Phil, we men should have ourselves, and our relationships, figured out. But for all of their theories and speculations, the world’s authority comes down to one basic belief: Focus on the self matters more than the selfless attention to our wives and children.

Yet, divorce rates continue to rise, infidelity is rampant, fatherless homes are the norm, and the use of psychiatric medications for daily functioning has skyrocketed. The problem may not be the availability of information, but rather the reliability of its wisdom.

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The Problem of Anger

By:Dr. W.P. “Ab” AbercrombieAngry man red shirt

Anger has become so commonplace in our world that we have fallen prey to the idea that it is a normal, even useful, condition. We have slowly shaped its definition into something more palatable and acceptable, while ignoring its seductive and controlling capacities. Regrettably, like many other elements of the world, anger is considered a reasonable and ordinary human reaction within the Body of Christ. But how has something so physically and relationally toxic, been weaved into our daily standard?

The psychological notions of health and normalcy have hypnotized Christians. Many issues that were previously addressed within a biblical context now are infused with humanism based upon the experience and report of the world and its authorities. Regarding anger, many Christians have come to believe that:

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Circumstantial Spirituality

By W.P. “Ab” Abercrombie, Ph.D.Intense man dark

Recently I have noticed a trend in my counseling ministry I refer to as; “circumstantial spirituality.” In other words, many counselees become very spiritual at the time their sins are uncovered, only to return to the secular life when the crisis has passed. These are individuals who seek support because of exposure rather than conviction of conscience.

The challenge for the biblical counselor comes in helping this briefly spiritual person, stay in the light long enough for the true heart condition to be revealed. But such counselees are often intolerant of the glare of this heavenly illumination. Jesus spoke of this reality stating:

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An Empowered Life

Dr. Ab AbercrombieMountain climber

 The biblical counselor often meets with individuals and families who feel “powerless.” In their horizontal orientation, they look about frantically for stability through people and life circumstances that fail answer their most basic need. Too frequently the counseling approach taken unwittingly perpetuates this process by addressing these external influences first, instead of seeking to alter the spiritual orientation of the counselee. Put another way, the solutions needed are not found in this world, but in the constant, abiding security of Christ.

In speaking of God’s Servant (Jesus), the prophet Isaiah invited Israel to “come” to the only sufficient source of provision, comfort, function, and life:

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Growing Families: Two Kinds of Seed

Dr. Ab Abercrombie

Wheat head

Parenting is a challenge.  In fact, it might be one of the most demanding aspects of the Christian life because the potential ramifications are so great.  And, when we consider the condition of our world and the deterioration of our culture, the task is even more daunting.

 If we look at the research concerning children, we could become very discouraged.  Psychiatrists and psychologists tell us we are approaching an epidemic of childhood mental illness.  Learning disabilities, clinical depression, attention deficit disorder, bipolar conditions, violent assault, disregard for authority, suicide, sexual promiscuity, and teen pregnancy are all on the increase according to the professionals.

And what explanations do the experts offer?  They tell us that there is an explosion of biochemical imbalances, genetic vulnerability, and organic illnesses to blame.

Their answer: medication management. Today, 40 out of every 1,000 children are taking anti-psychotic medications to control their behavior.  And this doesn’t include the millions who are taking medication for depression and anxiety!  Notice I said medication management not medical cure.  In truth, psychiatry and psychology has never cured anybody.  The best they can offer is to help someone remain comfortably sick while subduing their behavior.

But Scripture offers a very different explanation, and a different answer, for these problems. In God’s Word, there is a precise order for the home.  There is a clearly defined role for the husband and father; an explicit function for the wife and mother; and a system of training and structure for the child.  Scripture even goes so far as to prescribe a cure for disobedient, sinful conduct…His name is Jesus Christ!

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The Homosexual Gospel: According to Rob Bell

Dr. Ab AbercrombieGrapes red on the vine

I think Rob Bell has been eating some bad fruit. As a self-proclaimed spokesman for God and the Christian faith, Bell bears evidence of poor nutrition that has defiled his heart and mind. As Christians we all must be discerning of where we acquire our spiritual food.

When God created the Garden of Eden He planted two types of trees:

The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:8-9).

Satan encourages us to reject the “tree of life” (Christ) and feast upon the forbidden “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” In the garden, the serpent tempted Eve to doubt and question God’s Word concerning sin:

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Gen 3:4-6).

Eve’s desire soon became her truth. She, and her husband, answered their craving for beauty, taste, and wisdom rather than heed God’s instruction. How could something so appealing to the flesh be sinful? As Satan had whispered… “You surely will not die!” With the ingestion of the illicit fruit, the spirit of the antichrist (1 Jn 4:2-3) advanced its position and has been offering a counterfeit version of “truth” ever since.

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