Sunday, January 29, 2023

Five Ways Parents Damage Their Kids Without Even Realizing It. Wisdom And The Genie In A Bottle. The #1 Most Dangerous Food in the World.

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Five Ways Parents Damage Their Kids Without Even Realizing It

A family walking in the rain holding umbrellas. “Obviously, there’s no end to the types of mistakes parents might make. However, certain parenting blunders are especially common today. Here are five big ones to avoid.

james x/Unsplash

Parents can be teaching their children the wrong lessons or missing out on teaching them the right lessons, without even realizing it.

One of the primary reasons God instituted marriage is so married couples could produce and nurture Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15)—that is, children trained in the ways of God. Christian parents are to diligently teach their children about God’s truths (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), discipline them in a loving manner (Proverbs 13:24) and provide for their needs (1 Timothy 5:8). God wants parents to take these responsibilities seriously.

But life gets busy. We might have stressful jobs and not have much energy left at the end of the day to deal with “kid problems.” Maybe we just go “on autopilot” when we’re home so we don’t even think about what we’re doing or saying, or how we might be coming across to other family members. Perhaps we just go along with what all the other parents are doing, or do what “feels right” at the moment, without stopping to think about what effect these actions might have on our children. The trouble is, when we get into these kind of mindsets, we can end up making some serious parenting blunders.

Probably most parents reading this can relate. No matter how conscientious and loving we may be, we all fall short at times. Very often our mistakes are unintentional. But even unintended slip-ups, if done repeatedly, can negatively impact a child’s emotional and moral development. Parents can be teaching their children the wrong lessons or missing out on teaching them the right lessons, without even realizing it.

On a positive note, most parenting mistakes can be prevented. The basic solution is to be aware of what the potential pitfalls are, so we can make the right adjustments before any problems develop. Obviously, there’s no end to the types of mistakes parents might make. However, certain parenting blunders are especially common today. Here are five big ones to avoid:

1. Skimping on quality time.

The first big mistake was alluded to in the introduction. Families today are pressed for time. Both Mom and Dad usually have jobs outside of the home, in addition to having household and childcare responsibilities. When time runs short, it’s usually the kids who suffer. Numerous studies have confirmed this trend. A 2019 survey commissioned by Crayola Experience found that 55 percent of American parents think they are “too busy” with other commitments to spend quality time with their kids.

One mom of two preteens admitted: “Most of the ‘interacting’ I do with my kids is when I’m rushing to them to school or sporting events, or when they’re doing their homework at the kitchen table and I’m trying to get them to focus on that while I hurry to get dinner made. There’s very little time to just sit down together and talk.”

Your children need to know they’re important to you. You’re not going to have strong bonds with them if you hardly give them any attention. Make sure you have some focused quality time with them each day (even just 15 minutes), to talk or do something enjoyable together, where you’re not only physically present with them, but emotionally connected as well. If you don’t think your schedule will allow this, take an honest assessment of your priorities and see what can be cut out.

2. Giving them what they should earn.

Every child likes presents, and it’s certainly nice to be able to give them. But too often parents overindulge their kids, showering them with all the toys, electronic gadgets and designer clothes they could ever want. Many times these are “guilty gifts”—given to kids by busy parents to try to make up for not spending time with them. Another common scenario occurs when a parent and her children are out shopping, and when the kids start begging for something, she caves in and puts the item in the cart to appease them.

These are huge mistakes. Studies have shown that giving children everything they want can foster an entitlement mentality and train them to be materialistic and expect immediate gratification. Moreover, if everything’s just handed to them, they won’t see the point in working hard to achieve goals.

While it’s certainly fine to give gifts with “no strings attached,” you shouldn’t finance all your children’s desires (even if you can afford to do so). Require them to make an effort to obtain at least some of these nonessential items on their own, rather than buying it all for them. They could save up allowance money to purchase items they want, or you could have them do some extra household chores to “earn” them. Teach them that working for the things we need and want is a biblical principle (Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 12:27; Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 14:23; and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

3. Not enforcing limits.

Kids need to understand what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable, and the consequences for noncompliance. They should know what the expectations are for chores, electronics usage, schoolwork, curfews, bedtimes, mealtimes and so on. When they’re aware of what’s required, it reduces confusion and uncertainty, which in turn decreases anxiety. Children feel safe and secure when they have clear boundaries and rules, because that tells them their parents are managing the household.

But truthfully, it’s not always fun being an authority figure. We can start worrying that our kids aren’t going to “like us” if we make too many rules. And frankly, it’s a lot easier to be permissive—to let the kids do as they please—rather than confront them about their behavior. If that’s been your thinking, remind yourself that everyone has to abide by rules. Kids need to get used to that. You’re not doing your kids any favors by letting them decide for themselves how they should live.

You need to establish and enforce limits for your kids not only because it helps your household run smoothly, it’s also an important life lesson. Ultimately, children who grow up with family rules learn that it’s normal and necessary to submit to authorities (Hebrews 13:17), whether that’s their parents, teachers, bosses, police officers, or most importantly, God.

4. Fixing their problems for them.

Some parents try to protect their children from all forms of hardship. A friend told me how when she was a teenager, whenever she faced any kind of difficulty or disappointment, her mother would step in and try to remedy the situation for her. “If I was excluded by the ‘in’ crowd, she’d go talk to the parents of those kids and insist I be included. If I didn’t make the cut for the cheerleading squad, she’d talk to the coach to see if I could get another chance at trying out,” my friend related. “I know my mom was trying to help. But what she really taught me was that I didn’t need to try to solve my own problems or take responsibility for my actions.”

Unless your kids are facing a difficulty that’s too big to manage on their own or could cause serious harm, you should resist the urge to “rescue” them. Definitely be there to offer support—to listen to their concerns and share your perspectives, but don’t take over and solve the problem for your children. Let them handle the situation for themselves. Remind yourself that someday they’re going to be on their own. Afflictions and struggles are part of life (1 Peter 4:12), and they need to learn to be ready for them.

5. Misusing praise.

Praise can be an effective tool to encourage kids and motivate them to “stay on the right path.” But it can also be misused. For instance, you might extend “inflated praise” (e.g., exclaiming “You’re the best swimmer I’ve ever seen!” or “What an incredibly beautiful painting!”) or overuse positive affirmations (e.g., blurting out “Great job!” or “You’re the best!” every time a child finishes a routine task). While you may be trying to make your kids feel good, these kinds of platitudes can come off as insincere or manipulative. Most kids can see through the exaggeration. They know that don’t deserve that kind of flattery and might conclude that you don’t really mean what you say.

Another mistake is to focus your praise on your children’s innate abilities or attributes (such as beauty, intelligence or natural talents), which they have no control over. Remarks like “You’ve got a photographic memory!” and “You’re brilliant!” send the message to your kids that their accomplishments are due to their inborn abilities, and therefore effort and hard work are not necessary.

To be an effective form of encouragement, praise should be directed at your children’s character (hard work, effort, perseverance, good moral choices, obedience, right attitudes, etc.), which is what is in their control. So rather than tell them “You’re a natural at math,” it’s more helpful to say, “I can tell you’ve been practicing those story problems!” When you point out what they’ve done right, they will start to see the connection between hard work and success, which will motivate them to continue putting out effort.

Granted, no parent handles every situation perfectly—especially when they’re stressed, tired or preoccupied with life’s challenges. It goes without saying that you should ask God daily for His help and guidance in rearing your children. If you do that—along with being aware of what the potential parenting pitfalls are and have a plan for dealing with them—you’ll likely make far fewer mistakes than if you just went on autopilot.”   From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/blogs/five-ways-parents-damage-their-kids-without-even-realizing-it

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Wisdom and the genie in a bottle

“A common fairy tale theme in children’s stories is of someone finding a genie in a bottle. When the finder rubs the bottle to release the genie inside, the genie is so grateful that he grants the finder his greatest wish, or three wishes, depending on the story. Have you ever stopped to consider what you would wish for if the offer was made to you?

I have, and my answers are no doubt quite a bit different today than they would have been if you had asked me when I was, say, eight years old! We know, of course, there is no such things as genies, and no ancient bottles harboring one just waiting to be released.  But we do know and have access to the God of all creation (much more powerful than any mythical genie).  So what would you ask for if He offered to grant you a wish?  Believe it or not, this is exactly what happened some 3,000 years ago!

Very early on in his reign as king, Solomon had a most unusual experience.  “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’” (1 Kings 3:5).  Can you imagine it?  Far better than any fable about a genie in a bottle, the Creator offered to give Solomon virtually anything he would ask for!

You may already know what his answer was, but if you can, imagine for a moment what you would have asked for! Solomon expressed his awe for God, acknowledging that he was greatly humbled by being given such a huge job. Then he prayed, “I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people who You have chosen, a great people too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (verses 7-8). Solomon’s request pleased God, who responded, “Behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart” (verse 12).

That proved to be a powerful gift! The Hebrew word for wise is chakam, and one of the meanings is skillful. It would be used of a craftsman who was skillful in his trade. Spiritually it would be someone who skilled in knowing the Word of God, and skilled in using it in his or her life. While there are people who are more naturally gifted in some areas–such as mechanics, music or athletics–in order to truly excel they must work to hone that natural talent. A tradesman who is wise, skillful in his trade, has had to work to develop his knowledge and ability. 

And so it is with us spiritually. Wisdom or skill with the Word of God doesn’t just happen. God opens our minds to understand His Word, which you might liken to us having been given a natural talent. But we then have to spend time and effort to build and develop that skill, honing it to a fine and valuable point! A skilled mechanic doesn’t get that way by sleeping on a stack of manuals, and we can’t become skilled in God’s Word by sleeping on a Bible!

We have to dig in and learn! Are you wise in the Word of God? Let me suggest three simple ways to grow in these things:

1. Do the same thing Solomon did, and ask God for the wisdom and understanding you need.  God hasn’t come to each of us and asked us what we’d like Him to give us, but there is no reason why we can’t go to Him like children often do, and ask for the things we really need and want. How should you ask? Learn how to pray.

2. Seek biblical wisdom/skill through a constant and daily application of Bible study, prayer and meditation.  Many years after God asked Solomon that momentous question, Solomon counseled all who would listen to him to seek wisdom (Proverbs 4:7; 19:20; Ecclesiastes 7:12).  Take his counsel and spend time studying the Scriptures, seeking to learn from them. How do you study the Bible? Here are some practical tips on how to start studying.

3. Put what you learn into practice in your life. “Book knowledge” is not the same as experiential knowledge. I don’t want someone operating on me who has studied a lot about taking out an appendix but has never done it!  If I had to have an appendectomy, I want it done by someone who has not only studied, but also has a lot of experience successfully removing appendixes!  That is exactly what you and I need to be doing with the truth of God. If you'd like to start practicing what we learn in the Bible, read our article “How to Please God.”

In order to become wise—skillful in handling the Word of God—we need to ask for wisdom, seek to gain it through our own study, and then practice what we learn. The results of a life lived like this will be far greater than the results of being granted three wishes by a genie in a bottle—even if there was such a thing!

Here are some additional resources on wisdom from our website:

Kind regards, and have a great week, Tom Clark, for Life, Hope and Truth

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The #1 Most Dangerous Food in the World

“Today, we're going to talk about the most dangerous food you can eat and what makes it so dangerous. Factors that make this the worst food in the world for your health:

1. It combines starch and fat under high heat • This creates advanced glycation end products, which affect your eyes, brain, heart, and kidneys.

2. Hydrogenated oils • This contains trans fats, which affect your cells, harden your arteries, and may increase your risk for cancer.

3. Acrylamide • This is a neurotoxin that has been linked to Alzheimer's.

4. Sugar • Sugar can lead to many different health problems. This food may contain sugar, beet sugar, dextrose, or maltodextrin. All of these types of sugars are very dangerous.

5. Glyphosate • I believe glyphosate can potentially alter a person's microbiome and may lead to negative health effects.

6. Seed oils • These oils are very inflammatory.

7. Ketchup • Ketchup contains high fructose corn syrup, which can lead to fatty liver and insulin resistance. It also has corn syrup, modified corn starch (MSG), and soy oil.

You probably guessed it—the most dangerous food in the world for your health is French fries.”  From:  Dr. Eric Berg DC  (235) The #1 Most Dangerous Food in the World - YouTube

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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Practical Ways to Save Money. Christian Budget. Lower Protein Diet Proven to Help Kidney Disease.

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Practical Ways to Save Money

Practical Ways to Save Money“With prices going up, we could all use some tips for buying what we need without going into debt. Here are some practical ways to save money.

You go to the grocery store to buy a few necessities and walk out with two bags for $75. What?

Your child has outgrown his or her tennis shoes and even cheaply made ones are $30. 

Gas prices make it painful to fill up your car.

Do these things ring true for you and sound familiar? Because of inflation and the economic downturn we are all living in right now, it’s important to really think about and plan how to live more frugally. We must be proactive.

Make God your partner

The first step in anything big in life is to make God our partner.

When I start getting stressed out about all of life’s little details, I say to myself: God is the Creator of the universe!

When a 90-year-old woman wavered in her faith about conceiving and bearing the child God had promised, God asked, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

Jeremiah 32:17 echoed this theme: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

This is a principle that we can take to the bank—we can fully trust in God, who cares for us.

With that firmly in our minds as a backdrop, are there practical things we can do to live more frugally and still have an abundant life? Yes, there are! Let’s look at a few.

Budget!

Budgeting is imperative to making our money stretch. Know how much you have coming in and how much is going out. Budgeting helps us to live within our means. Because it is key to successfully navigating a rocky economy, budgeting must be a component of our plan to live more frugally.

Part of every Christian budget should be tithing. There is a promise from God in Malachi 3:10: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” 

For more specific details on budgeting, see “Christian Budget” and “The Bible, Budgeting and You.”

If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it. If it is an item you absolutely need, bargain hunt. But no matter what, create a budget and stick with it.

Become a bargain hunter

Bargain hunting is an art form for some, so if this is a new concept to you, don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask around your workplace, church or community to find a budget and bargain mentor. Those of us who are bargain hunters love to show others the ropes.

When I was a young mother of two small children 18 months apart and was enrolled in nursing school, we were very tight on money. My 2-year-old daughter was outgrowing all of her church dresses. A friend who had three small children of her own helped me find seven new dresses for my child by introducing me to Goodwill. Seven dresses for $20 was amazing for a young mother. It was my first lesson in thrift shopping.

There are thrift stores and consignment stores in almost every town. This doesn’t mean you should never shop retail, but if you do, shop the sales and bargain hunt. There is no need to pay full price for anything. There is no need to sacrifice quality either; just find the best quality for the price.

I love the hunt! It means being patient and comparing—no impulse buying allowed. Our society is all about instant gratification, and the advertisers know this. However, do you really need 20 pairs of jeans? Would having fewer work? Then you could put those extra funds into savings for when an emergency comes up.

Stock up when you see items you need on sale. We live in a small condo, but we still invested in a small chest freezer so we can purchase things that are on sale.

Bargain hunting is fabulous; just keep in mind that less is more.

Become a minimalist

Once I started applying this principle, I realized how many beautiful benefits it brought.

In order to become a minimalist, you need to survey your stuff and ask yourself two questions: Do I need it? Do I love it? If the answer to both is no, then there are several options for disposing of excess.

In an anxious time in history, how wonderful it is to know that God is on our side and will help us with every aspect of our lives!  One option is to sell stuff you don’t need. Facebook Marketplace is a great place for this. Another option is to consign your items. There are consignment stores for household items and clothing in almost every town. I use this option a lot. For example, when my child needs a new pair of shoes, I consign the ones he has outgrown and then pick out a quality used pair in his new size, paying little or sometimes nothing!

Another point to becoming a minimalist is to create a capsule wardrobe for everyone in the family. One rule we have in our house is, if you buy something, you have to get rid of something. This really prevents impulse shopping. I always ask myself, Do I need this? And if I do, do I love it more than something I already have?

It’s also lovely not living in a house full of stuff we never use. It feels like it is so much easier to clean when there is not excess.

Another practical thing to do with excess is to give it away. I first try to find someone in our church congregation who could use the item, but if no one needs it, I donate it to a thrift store. If you attend a congregation with a lot of children, you could organize a clothing exchange a couple times a year. This can help all of the families clothe growing youngsters and save money.

Be creative

What about entertainment? Do you have to go without fun to survive? No way! Let your imagination and creativity lead you in this area.

Game nights are an example of inexpensive fun. We recently hosted a group of young people in our condo’s community room. We simply had a meal and played games. It was fantastic!

Picnics in the park, hiking and camping are some other ways to enjoy family time or time with friends. There are so many ways to have fun without spending money, and there is no financial guilt incurred.

My favorite dates with my husband involve walking and ending up at a new coffee shop for a cup of java. If you are foodies, as we are, find new recipes and cook as a family. For us, it’s just as much fun to spend $20 on some yummy ingredients and have a theme night—like Mexican or Greek—as it is to go to a restaurant and spend $20 per person.

Entertaining others doesn’t have to break the bank either. Make it a potluck, and everyone can contribute a dish. Some of the inexpensive things you can do include setting up a hot dog bar or a baked potato bar with all of the toppings. Most people just enjoy the opportunity to fellowship with their brethren, and the food doesn’t always have to be gourmet quality. So be creative and generate some fun memories.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, New International Version).

In an economy that is struggling, we can feel the pressure to stretch our money. In response, we can diligently plan a budget, bargain hunt, be creative with our entertainment—and end up profiting from the whole experience.

In an anxious time in history, how wonderful it is to know that God is on our side and will help us with every aspect of our lives!”         From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/finances/practical-ways-to-save-money/?

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Christian Budget

Christian budget“Budgeting is a helpful and wise way to manage your money. There are biblical principles that can help you develop and use a Christian family budget.

What does the Bible say about managing money and a Christian budget? 

Most people are familiar with the term budget, and many understand that budgeting is a smart way to keep track of their money. But how many actually use a written budget as a part of their personal or family finances? Not very many.

Budgets are required

Small and large businesses have and live by their annual budgets. Budgets help businesses know where they are, what they need to accomplish and where they can change to improve their financial standing. Therefore, budgets are required by boards of directors, shareholders, banks that give business loans and, in some cases, even the government as a qualification for certain types of programs. A budget is required because it makes good financial sense.

Does it also make good sense for our families? When it comes to individuals or families, there is a greater tendency to let the budgeting thing slide. It may be seen as too much trouble or just not necessary—and as a result, many families find themselves in serious financial difficulties. Sadly, a major factor for the failure of marriages today is financial problems.

How many individuals and families truly understand how to budget? Of those, how many have a balanced Christian budget? We use the term Christian budget due to the fact that there are sound scriptural principles that you can find in the Bible that can help you and your family become successful in managing your finances.

Christian budgeting

Throughout the Bible, God gives us important principles for life, including how to handle money and finances. So let’s consider a few pertinent scriptures:

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want” (Proverbs 21:5, New Revised Standard Version).

A budget is nothing more than a plan for saving and spending money. It includes where the money will come from and how much to expect, as well as what expenses that same money will be used to meet. A good budget takes care of all the regular and important bills—like rent or mortgage, utilities, food, gasoline and insurance—and allows for the unexpected or occasional expenses.

With budgeting, when the paycheck comes in, the family already knows how much of this check needs to be set aside to meet the bills coming due, and how much is available for extras—perhaps dinner out and a movie. Everything is planned for and covered.

To live without a budget often leads to shortsighted decisions: “If I have money right now, I can spend it right now. So if I want new clothes today, and I have the money today, why not spend it? The rent isn’t due until next week, so I’ll worry about that then.”

In the terms of the verse we just looked at, this kind of thinking is “hasty.” This describes a person who jumps at a purchase without a plan and without thinking through the consequences.

Unless you are one of those rare individuals who makes more money than you can spend, you will need to develop a plan for where your money goes or it will slip out of your hands. Sometimes it will disappear in small amounts that add up quickly, maybe a candy bar purchase here, a newspaper there, a cup of coffee or some fast food. Supermarkets, convenience stores, fast-food chains and so forth are all successful in squeezing money out of you, especially if you have no budget—no plan. After all, it is only money, right?

Biblical financial principles

So we can see that it takes a plan to make our funds stretch to meet all our needs. This is where a Christian budget becomes a useful tool to receive God’s blessings as wise financial stewards. Through proper planning, it is possible to have a balanced budget and to have a reserve for unplanned expenses.

God’s Word, the Bible, is filled with principles of sound financial management.

Wise King Solomon wrote: “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field; you shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants” (Proverbs 27:23-27).

The principle is that of a wise overseer. It isn’t always easy to wisely use and manage family assets. It will require not only planning, but self-discipline to stay within the budget. It will probably involve putting off some purchases until later or deciding against others entirely. But men and women who can wisely and carefully manage their resources can successfully see to it that the family needs are met.

Where do I begin?

Once the need to budget is clearly understood, the next question may be: “Where do I start?”

One challenge some face is: “What if my income is not easily predictable?” Many people earn commissioned sales, and they face this very problem. Let’s draw a lesson from the way a business handles this dilemma.

Since most companies generate their revenue by selling goods or services, they can’t know with certainty exactly what they will earn each month. So they must create a proposed or projected budget. They evaluate their past months of business income and expenses and propose an estimate for the following year. And as they go along, they have to make adjustments as income and expenses vary from the estimate. The same approach can be applied to a Christian budget.

Regardless of whether you work on commission or know exactly what your paycheck will be, let’s start at the beginning of how to budget.

How to budget

Following are the important elements that will assist you in developing a Christian budget for you or for your family.

1. Budget together as a family. If you are married, it is extremely important that you and your spouse plan the budget together. Imagine what a tremendous teaching example this can be for your children!

2. List all of your expenses. In order to understand a budget, you must know exactly what you are spending. Sometimes a husband and wife can lead separate lives financially and have no idea what the other is doing. If credit cards are abused, expenses can careen out of control, leading to painful experiences in debt. For a budget to work, both husband and wife must be honest about expenses. So, take a sheet of paper and list your expenses.

3. Prioritize your needs. After specifically itemizing the expenses, you need to decide which expenses are the most important and the first to be paid. Food, shelter, utilities, clothing and transportation are the basic necessities that should be at the top of the priority list. Within a Christian budget, one must not forget to give God what belongs to Him. (For a more complete discussion on tithing, please see our article “Tithing: What Is It?”)

If you do not have a steady income or if you are at a place in your life where the outgo is exceeding the income, use this process for prioritizing your needs. When one is “down in the dumps” and without a plan, it can be easy to spend recklessly.

4. Learn to say “No”!  It may not be easy, but learning to say no will go a long way in helping to balance a Christian budget and avoid the trap of excessive debt. If it isn’t in the budget, then it shouldn’t be purchased at this time.

The mantra of Western culture seems to be, “Why wait when you can have it now?” Advertisements scream: “Buy now—pay later!” “Easy credit terms!” “No interest, no payments until [month and year].” “Sign and drive!”

It all seems very enticing—and even more so when it means that new car, flat-screen TV or living room furniture can be yours today! But should they be?

Why wait? The answer is found in the Scriptures: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). The deeper in debt we become, the greater the problems for our budget and family finances. “Just say no” applies to more than illegal drugs!

5. Increase your education. Most of us would like to make more money than we do. Would your income improve if you were to get a degree, trade certification or learn a new skill or trade?

It may not be possible to go back to college and get a degree (or it may take years of night school), but there are other ways to make yourself more valuable to an employer. Take advantage of continuing education programs that may be offered by your company or in your profession. Study and seek more advanced certifications in your field. Perhaps apprentice under one more knowledgeable and skilled in your field, or seek such a person as a mentor.

King Solomon once wrote, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:5-7).

In the working world, wisdom and understanding require education. Investing wisely in your education may be one of the best financial investments that you can make.

Seek wise counsel

Turning your situation around may be a difficult process, but in addition to the wise principles of Scripture, there are numerous resources available to you. Solomon also wrote, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). Your budget is the plan; and if you need help, seek the guidance of a wise and understanding counselor. Seek the advice of an experienced family member, successful businessperson or even a debt counselor. Those counselors can help you set a budget; manage your income, expenses and debt; and help put you on the road to taking care of your family in the best way possible.

A successful Christian budget is one that follows some basic principles and guidelines found in the Scriptures. To properly manage the family finances may require a different mind-set than many in our society have.

Working together as a family, you can create a budget that will provide a plan of action, a goal to look forward to! “May he [God] give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (Psalm 20:4, New International Version).”  From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/finances/christian-budget/

See more on Christian budgeting in the “Finance” section.

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Lower Protein Diet Proven to Help Kidney Disease

Transcript of YouTube video at: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lower-protein-diet-proven-to-help-kidney-disease/?

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“How might we cut the risk of dialysis and death in half?

Approximately one in seven American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and the prevalence is higher in those with metabolic risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. That sounds like a job for plant-based diets, which have demonstrated significant utility for the prevention and treatment of all three of those modern-day scourges of society. Their utility for the treatment of so many diseases has led to a growing interest in their applicability for the prevention and treatment of chronic kidney disease itself.

In theory, there are multiple benefits of more plant-based diets in the management of kidney disease. The intake of animal fat is associated with protein loss in the urine, and other components related to meat, such as choline and carnitine, are converted by bad gut bugs into TMAO, which is associated with scarring of the kidneys.

Plant-based diets carry a decreased acid load, whereas ingestion of animal-based foods like meat, eggs, and dairy increases the formation of acid and ammonia––unlike the favorable alkalization from fruits and vegetables. The phosphorus in plant-based protein is less absorbable––which is a good thing if you have ailing kidneys, especially compared to the added phosphorus-based preservatives that are often used in meat processing. Indeed, you can successfully lower blood phosphorus levels in kidney disease patients in as short as one week on a vegetarian diet.

Higher dietary fiber intake can also pull advanced glycation end products out of your system (those so-called glycotoxins), and prevent constipation, which can cause potassium overload in kidney patients. A plant-based diet also lessens the likelihood of exposure to potassium-based additives. A lot of the phosphorus additives in meat are also potassium additives.

And finally, there may be favorable impacts on the gut microbiome, leading to lower generation of uremic toxins. Such “putrefaction” products are generated by protein putrefying in the gut, but plant-rich diets may be able to reduce uremic toxins, in part due to increased fiber and lower protein intakes.

The lower the dietary protein intake, the slower the progression toward end-stage kidney disease. And the increased risk of progression to end-stage kidney disease associated with dietary protein intake appeared to have no threshold––meaning it just seemed the lower the better. But even if you just your drop protein intake by just like 10 grams a day, that modest reduction may decrease the risk of end-stage renal disease and death by greater than 50 percent. That’s incredible. It was a randomized controlled trial. They were trying to get people down to like 0.6 g/kg a day of protein, which is like 40 grams a day, but could only get people down to about 60 grams a day, which is technically not even a low-protein diet.

The recommended protein intake is 0.8 g/kg per day, or like 50 grams a day, but just getting people from the usual protein intake of like 70 grams down to 60 cut their risk of dialysis or death by 77 percent. Check this out. By the end of four years, more than 25 percent of those in the usual diet group were either dead or on dialysis from end-stage disease. In the reduced protein group, it was less than 10 percent.

A randomized controlled trial proving massive benefit, yet despite strong scientific evidence, many doctors are still unconvinced that a low-protein diet can help patients with chronic kidney disease. Why? “The reasons for this nihilism are unclear but could be related to insufficient background knowledge, lack of interest in nutrition and dietetics, [and] limited familiarity with the most recent scientific literature.” From: Lower Protein Diet Proven to Help Kidney Disease | NutritionFacts.org

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

10 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married. Living Together Before Marriage. Are Energy Drinks Beneficial?

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10 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married

10 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married“Whether you have someone special in your life right now or not, here are 10 questions to consider when it comes to choosing your future spouse.

Marriage is a big deal.

In fact, with the exception of your relationship with God, it might be the most important, most life-altering, most far-reaching commitment you’ll ever make in your entire life.

But the decision to commit to God through baptism is a little more clear-cut than the decision to get married. The overall question on the table with baptism is, “Are you going to commit to God’s way of life or not?”  With marriage, there’s the added wrinkle of sorting out who you should make that commitment with, and how you can be sure he or she is the right person, and what you should be looking for to be sure.

What helps with that process is knowing the right questions to ask—which is why we’ve put together this list of 10 important questions to ask about the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Is this a comprehensive list of every question you’ll ever have to consider before marriage? Not by a long shot. But it is a place to start—and if you’re willing to answer these 10 questions honestly, they should leave you with a clearer picture of whether or not you’re on the right track.

1. Does he or she show you love and respect?

That might feel like an obvious question, but it’s easy to mistake mutual attraction for mutual love and respect. Just because you like each other doesn’t mean your relationship is anchored by these two essential qualities, so take some time to really think about it.

Paul told the congregation at Ephesus, “Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

We don’t show love and respect by accident. They aren’t things that just happen. To be consistent in these things, we have to be making a daily effort to express them—and to better understand what God says they mean. If the person you want to marry isn’t actively showing you love and respect, then the foundation of your marriage will be crippled from day one.

2. Are you moving toward the same goals?

Amos asked, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). By entering into the marriage covenant with someone, you’re agreeing to walk alongside him or her for the rest of your shared lives.

If you’re each looking toward different destinations in life, your marriage will feel the strain. But if you’re both headed the same direction, working with the same goals in mind and operating by the same values, your relationship will blossom and grow in the process. What do you want out of marriage? What do you want your home life to look like? What are your career goals? If you’re each looking toward different destinations in life, your marriage will feel the strain. But if you’re both headed the same direction, working with the same goals in mind and operating by the same values, your relationship will blossom and grow in the process.

3. How does he or she handle stressful situations?

It’s easy to be the best version of ourselves when life is going well—and in the beginning of a relationship, there will be a lot of easygoing, stress-free moments. It might even seem like things will always be that way—but that’s not how it works. Life will inject stress into your relationship, and it’s important to know how your potential spouse handles it.

Early in our relationship, my (then future) wife and I took a wrong turn during a road trip, which led us to a grid of under-construction city streets. After sunset. In an urban area neither of us had been in before.

It was an eye-opening experience because we both saw how the other handled unexpected stress. We made it out of there alive and (relatively) unscathed, and our budding relationship was stronger because of it.

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,” says the book of Proverbs, “and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Marriage works better when the people in it know how to rule their spirits when times get tough—because they will get tough.

4. How does he or she treat others?

One of the most important observations you can make about the person you’d like to marry is how he or she treats others—especially the ones who can’t really do anything about it. Cashiers. Waiters and waitresses. Employees. Total strangers. Anonymous users on the Internet. When there’s no repercussion for being rude or unkind, what kind of personality do you see on display?

Proverbs describes the ideal woman as someone who “extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20), and Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). Make sure your potential spouse is someone who extends kindness and compassion to others, even when there’s nothing to gain from it.

5. What if nothing ever changes?

What’s the most annoying trait of your potential spouse-to-be?

Got it? Okay. Now, if that trait never changed—if you knew it was going to stay just as annoying and just as consistent for the rest of your human life—would you still want to marry this person?

It’s a dangerous game to go into marriage expecting your partner to change in a specific way. Sure, life is full of change, but for all you know, that specific trait might stay the same forever or even get worse. And if it does, are you going to be okay with that? Or is that a deal breaker? The marriage covenant is a very permanent thing (Matthew 19:9), so it’s important that we don’t bank on change that might never happen.

6. How focused is he or she on self-improvement?

In contrast to the last question, being a Christian means being committed to change. Following God means seeking out where we’re falling short of His expectations and learning how to do better.

One of the qualities any potential spouse should have is the desire to improve as God reveals areas that need work. Make sure you’re looking to enter into marriage with someone who makes the effort to grow as a Christian.

7.a. Women: Is this a man you can follow and support, even when you disagree with him?

Paul wrote an instruction that can be hard to swallow: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

But there it is. In the marriage relationship, part of the wife’s role is to submit to her husband. Women, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to voice your concerns or express your hopes as your husband leads. It doesn’t mean you’re expected to become some kind of mindless slave or you’re expected to submit to things contrary to God’s instruction. But marriage does mean committing to following where your husband leads, even when you think another direction might work better.

Make sure you marry a man you’re not concerned about having to follow.

7.b. Men: Is this a woman whose input you will value and consider, even when you disagree with her?

Paul had something to say to the husbands too: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). It’s that last part that often gets overlooked. Men, our job is to love our wives as Christ loves the Church. That’s a deep kind of love—a love filled with self-sacrifice and unflinching dedication. A husband should make decisions that place higher value on his wife and family than himself.

Even though it’s our responsibility to take the reins of the relationship, we’re not the boss or the dictator. We’re the husband, and we are to give “honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7, emphasis added throughout).

Make sure you marry a woman whose thoughts and opinions will help you make better decisions as a leader.

8. What’s his or her relationship with God like?

More tough words from Paul: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

That’s not optional. That’s not a matter of preference. That’s not a suggestion, a hope or a best-case scenario. This goes back to having the same goals. If the person you’re interested in doesn’t believe in God or in living His way of life, how can you expect to walk together?

Or if that belief or that way of life is just something on the back burner, something that gets pushed aside in favor of other things, do you think the command to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) is going to be easier or harder for you?

Marry someone whose dedication to living God’s way of life inspires you to do a better job in your own life.

9. Is he or she willing to put God before you?

Ah. Now we’re into really difficult territory. This isn’t the picture Hollywood paints when it talks about romance—or all those inspirational quotes on social media, for that matter. The world around us says that true love is finding someone who makes you the focal point of his or her entire universe, who puts you before anything else.

When we lose sight of who should come first in our life, the other areas of our life are bound to come undone in the process. Marriage is a lot of things, but it shouldn’t be that. Not in a million years.

God was serious when He said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). It wasn’t a joke. Nothing—nothing, not even your cherished wife or husband—is to come between you and your relationship with God (Deuteronomy 13:6-8).

Jesus also emphasized that God is to come first when He spoke His famous words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

When we lose sight of who should come first in our life, the other areas of our life are bound to come undone in the process. “All these things”—all the blessings and benefits of life, which include marriage—come second to God.

If you want a successful marriage, make sure you’re looking for someone who will put God first—and you second.

10. What’s your relationship with God like?

But then, all this assumes one very important point—that God matters to you too. That you’re making the effort to put Him first in your life. That you treat others with compassion. That you’re making the effort to improve and grow as a child of God. Because, well, it’s a two-way street—if you’re asking these questions about the person you want to marry, then hopefully the person you want to marry will be asking these same questions about you.

Whether you’ve had someone in mind as you’ve made your way through this list or you’re still searching for that special someone, one of the best things you can do is to start making sure you can measure up to the questions on this list too. It’s a lifelong project, and there’s always room for each of us to continue improving ourselves—both for our own sake and for our spouse’s.

The book of Proverbs tells us that “he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22), and again, “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14).

Marriage, entered into by the right people and for the right reasons, is an incredible blessing from God, and it’s never too early (or too late) to start preparing for it.

Want more? Check out our articles “5 Traits Men Should Look for in a Godly Woman” and “5 Traits Women Should Look for in a Godly Man.”

Sidebar: How You Might Be Ruining Your Marriage Before It Even Starts

In many countries, around 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce.

That’s not a great success rate—especially when you consider that no one enters into marriage with the hope that the relationship will end in shambles.

Unfortunately, there are social norms and decisions people make every day that can make nurturing a healthy marriage increasingly difficult. What’s more, some of these can impact your future marriage long before you have a wedding date (or even a spouse) in mind.

If you want a strong marriage, here are two pitfalls to avoid—and why:

Cohabitation

Moving in together is so common these days that it almost raises an eyebrow when two people decide not to live together before they get married. Most people look at cohabitation as a way to test-drive a marriage—to see if everything is satisfactory before making a big commitment.

Here’s why that’s a problem:

Marriage isn’t about everything working perfectly. In fact, if there’s one thing you can count on in marriage, it’s things not working perfectly. If you’re cohabiting—if you’re just two people living together, bound by nothing more than a feeling of affection—it’s a lot easier to walk away when things get tough.

Marriage—at least the kind of marriage God intended for us to have—is a binding commitment between two people. It’s an agreement that when things get difficult, the husband and the wife will put in the effort to make things work.

You can’t test-drive that kind of commitment.

More than that, God designed the sexual union to exist between a husband and wife exclusively. The Bible says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Sex serves as a powerful bond between husband and wife—but the more potential marriages you try and test-drive, the more diluted that bond will be when you finally say, “I do.”

Sexualized content

This one umbrella covers a lot of territory. Yes, we’re talking about outright pornography here, but also anything that uses the idea of sex as a selling point or in a provocative way. That includes everything from sex scenes in popular movies to advertisements that want you to focus less on the product and more on the attractive model displaying it.

Understand that the world is selling you a false (and largely impossible) concept of what sex is and how it works. The more you let that imagery in—the more you believe what the world tells you about how sex should look—the more disappointed and frustrated you’ll be when your own marriage fails to live up to those impossible expectations.

Sex is a fantastic, awesome gift designed by God to bolster and enhance a marriage, which is why Satan is eager to cheapen and trivialize it. You don’t have to be married to negatively impact your future marriage—but the good news is, the opposite is also true. You don’t have to be married to set your future marriage up for success. Making good decisions now—and avoiding the bad ones—can make all the difference later.” From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/dating/questions-before-you-get-married/

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Living Together Before Marriage.

“More couples are living together before marriage. But statistics show the “cohabitation effect” is not what they expected. What does our Creator say?

Living Together Before Marriage

Despite the fact that individuals who live together before marriage have a greater rate of divorce than those who do not, many who read the statistics simply don’t believe it. They do not believe their chances of divorce increase if they live together before marriage.

Living-together facts

Surveys show that there is a negative “cohabitation effect”couples who live together before marriage “tend to be less satisfied with their marriages—and more likely to divorce—than couples who do not” (Meg Jay, New York Times, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage,” April 14, 2012).

In spite of this, the majority of people who responded to this article declared they would still choose to live together before marriage. Many expressed the belief that living together before marriage could help them better determine whether they would be happily married. They believe their experiences will be different—they will be the exceptions to the rule.

Some felt there must be something wrong with the statistics because it would only stand to reason that living together before marriage makes sense. After all, you want to be sure your love is strong enough to eventually marry, and the only way to find out is to live together, or so many believe.

Whatever the justification, it seems that living-together relationships don’t often work out. Various surveys tell us that at least 50 percent and up to 70 percent of those who eventually marry have lived with someone else before marriage. The overwhelming reason given for cohabiting before marriage is to test the relationship before making the commitment of marriage.

From a human perspective, the rationale for living together before marriage may make sense. But what if living together really isn’t better for strengthening your future marriage? Let’s ask a few questions to help find the answer.

What are the health risks?

Is having a sexual relationship before marriage healthy?

There are at least 19 million new cases of sexually transmissible diseases in the United States every year. Women are infected two times more often than men.

Other studies show that 80 percent of young people are sexually active before marriage. It is no secret that sexual activity before or outside of marriage brings a high risk of contracting a sexually transmissible disease. By their late teenage years, at least three-fourths of all U.S. teens have had intercourse, and more than two-thirds of all sexually experienced teens have had two or more partners (“Sexual and Reproductive Health: Women and Men,” October 2002, guttmacher.org).

Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the United States. Almost all of these cancers are related to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). This cancer often takes years to develop after a woman becomes infected.

Once infected by an STD, your chances of passing it along to a new partner are extremely high! And with so many people having multiple sexual partners, the spread of STDs has become almost epidemic.

And these factors don’t even take into consideration the emotional and psychological issues associated with disease or the impact of unwanted pregnancy. Are these chances you’re willing to take?

Involvement versus commitment

Are you sure you want to live with someone who is not committed?

Are you sure you want to live with someone who is not committed?Living together is involvement. Marriage is commitment. “Studies done by Pamela Smock, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, reveal that there might be a fundamental difference in the way men and women perceive cohabitation: Women tend to view it as a step before marriage to that partner, whereas men tend to see living together as something they do before making any commitment” (“Living Together: Do Men and Women Perceive It Differently?” ivillage.com).

To illustrate, consider the advice one young man was given by another man: “Why buy the cow if you get the milk free?” Are women compromising their values in search of possible future security, while actually reducing the chances of a committed marriage?

In response to The New York Times article, a male who was only interested in sexual relations stated, “Of course this would be simpler if my girlfriend and me [sic] could just continue as is but, as is always the case (in my relationships) she wants to build a nest for us.” Perhaps this woman should reconsider their relationship altogether!

Couples who moved in together because it was convenient or because they felt they needed a trial period are the ones who tend to get divorced most often if they marry.

Additional consequences of living together before marriage

Have you considered the consequences of having a child out of wedlock?

The Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank out of Princeton, New Jersey, issued a report called “Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles.” They identify four threats to marriage, including cohabitation arrangements. The report states that these arrangements “are not a good alternative to marriage but are a threat, and they surely do not provide a good environment for the rearing of children.”

Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics. The highest percentage was among women 25 to 29 years old. Can you be sure your “significant other” will continue to live with and provide support for the family after a child is born if he isn’t committed enough to marry you?

To learn more about the problems with living together before marriage, read “Is Cohabitation Before Marriage a Good Idea?

Is marriage sacred?

According to some, marriage isn’t a sacred ritual anymore. To them, it is just a man-made step in a relationship, so it shouldn’t matter if people live together before marriage. If evolution did blindly develop these wonderful bodies we call male and female, that might be so.

However, if God—who also designed marriage and family—is our Creator, then we must consider His instructions. His commands forbidding sexual relationships outside of the bonds of marriage are not hard to find or understand (Exodus 20:14; Galatians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 6:18).

Furthermore, if you believe, as the apostle Paul did, that the loving bonds of marriage offer a beautiful analogy of Jesus Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32), give careful thought. Before living together, seriously think of the consequences—to your emotions, to your health, to your chances of marital success and to your relationship with God.

Most of those who read the foreboding statistics about the cohabitation effect pay no attention. It seems each person feels his or her situation is different—he or she will be one of those who will find true lasting happiness. But our loving Creator knows that is not true. He wants to save us from the negative consequences. How would you explain your choice to Him?

Avoid the cohabitation effect and instead choose the path supported by research. Choose the path ordained and supported by the Creator of all mankind! As one happy husband wrote: “My wife was a great treasure which I had to patiently wait for. She was burned into my heart and mind as this priceless jewel from the start.”

For more on the appropriate relationship before marriage, see the article “Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery.”   From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/marriage/living-together-before-marriage/

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Are Energy Drinks Beneficial?

“What effects do Red Bull and Monster brand energy drinks have on artery function and athletic performance?

Key Takeaways
  • One can of Red Bull has been shown to increase blood pressure by 3 or 4 points within 90 minutes of consumption. If you have elevated blood pressure day in and day out, that bump means a 20 percent higher risk of dying from a stroke and a 12 percent higher risk of dying from a heart attack.
  • Energy drink manufacturers skirt the FDA’s imposed limit on caffeine in sodas by claiming their beverages are “natural dietary supplements,” not sodas.
  • Despite having the same amount of caffeine as coffee, Red Bull results in significantly higher average blood pressure—about five points higher.
  • Energy drinks may impair artery function and increase risk of our hearts flipping into a fatal rhythm.
  • At greatest risk are families with a history of sudden cardiac death or fainting. Energy drinks may unmask Long QT syndrome, a potentially life-threatening genetic condition.
  • Energy drinks were originally marketed to athletes—very successfully—but researchers found no improvement in endurance or resistance training compared with just sugar water and caffeine or straight caffeine, respectively. Energy drink consumption does seem to increase inflammation, though.
  • Unlike nitrate-rich vegetables, energy drinks raise resting blood pressure, which is the opposite effect of beets and greens, which improve athletic performance and reduce blood pressure at the same time.”        See YouTube video and article at: https://nutritionfacts.org/2022/12/29/are-energy-drinks-beneficial/?

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