Friday, May 29, 2015

Pronunciation Part II: Words of Wisdom

We have had a change of plan to our Friday night club this week. Because we weren't able to get a projector for our presentation, we will be moving it to our next meeting. That gives us time for another fun-filled night like last week!  This time we will be practicing our pronunciation using some great words of wisdom, while also discussing what we are reading. If we have time, we might even have a couple more songs.

Sorry for the change of plans, but we look forward to seeing you all there and having another great time together!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Relationships, Dating and Marriage II

Last week we had a great discussion on the topic of relationships. There is so much to cover, however, so we are going to be continuing the topic this Friday night.

In our last discussion, we talked about things that are essential (needed) in a good relationship, such as trust, respect, and understanding. We also talked about what we look for in a partner. As homework, we asked people to make a list of what they look for, or what they did look for before they were married. On most dating websites, they ask you to fill out a form that tells other people what is important to them in another person. We promised that we would make one as an example, so here it is. (We are making the list as if were weren't married and had to make one now.)


  • Puts God first in his life and is a Christian (Seventh-day Adventist)
  • Kind/considerate
  • Honest, trustworthy
  • Enjoys travel and learning
  • Enjoys reading and (light) philosophical conversations
  • Vegetarian (preferably vegan,), healthy
  • Loves nature and the country
  • Can find his way around a city
  • Laid back, has a good sense of humor
  • Goal-setter, organized
  • Present minded (not stuck in the past or the future), but likes to make plans while still enjoying some spontaneity (doing things right now)
  • Active (likes to get outside and play/explore)
  • Committed (someone that I can count on)
  • Patient and understanding (tries to see things from my perspective/view)
  • Listens to me

  • I am looking for a woman who is confident and goal oriented.  I want to find someone who is not afraid of a challenge.  Someone who enjoys reading, thinking and discussing life.  
  • I would like to find someone who enjoys traveling to various parts of the world.  Who enjoys the outdoors, camping, and going out in nature for extended periods of time.
  • I would like someone who enjoys trying new things and is not afraid of change.  Who is mobile and who does not want to be tied down to possessions and things or one place.
  • I would like someone who is frugal and understands how to spend money.  Someone who does not expect an extravagant lifestyle or to spend money foolishly.
  • I am searching for someone who is gentle, who loves animals and who is vegetarian and/or vegan.  
  • I do not mind if you have never went to college, however, a desire to learn and to better yourself are important.  
  • You do not need to be rich or come from a wealthy background.  
  • Someone who loves God and is willing to put Him first always.  
  • Someone who likes to spend time together but also likes time alone to reflect.
  • A person who enjoys waking up early and evening walks.  Not a night owl (sometimes I do enjoy being up late, however).  
  • Someone who cares about exercise, health, and is drug/alcohol free.

Often, in the real world, when we meet someone and get to know them, we see how similar they are (how much they are like us) or how they complement us (completes or goes well with us). We can consider what we are looking for in a partner and see if they are a good fit. Usually a person won't meet all of the things that we want. Afterall, we are all only human. But somethings are usually more important than others. For example, it might not be as important for a person to be tall or short, but it is important that they be trustworthy.

Unequally Yoked

So what makes a good marriage? Probably the most important thing is having similar beliefs. Christians often consider the verse in the Bible from 2 Corinthians 6:14 that states: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" What does this mean? According to, "A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another. (Read more:

If two people get married and do not have similar beliefs, it causes many problems. What if one person spends a lot of money and one person likes to save? What if one person thinks that it is ok to have relationships on the side while one person wants commitment? What if one person is religious and the other isn't? What happens when they have children? 

What contributes to divorce? 

A simple search online brings up pages and pages with reasons why couples get divorced. Some of them include: 

  • Getting married for the wrong reasons (you just want a family, you want to move out of your parents house, you want someone who makes a lot of money, etc.)
  • Lack of individual identity (feeling like you are your own person with your own interests)
  • Not having a shared vision of success (having similar beliefs)
  • Finances (money issues)
  • Loss of intimacy (feeling "out of touch")

There are many more reasons as well that we will discuss on Friday, as well as how these common problems can be prevented. 

Our Experience

As we mentioned last time, we have been married for 14 years. In that time we have been through many hard times in life, as well as many wonderful times. Since the birth of our daughter, our relationship has changed and has presented new challenges to face and overcome. Many people wonder how we do it. We have found that the most important thing is to put God first. This means that we have our own, as well as shared, time spent in devotion (reading the Bible and talking about it) and prayer. This connects us with God and teaches us what He wants us to be like. By striving to be the best people that we can be and relying on God's help to do so, we become a better husband, wife, friend, and parent. We become more patient, considerate, kind, loving, helpful, less stressed, etc. By becoming better people, we have a better relationship. 

What about you? What do you think or what have you found makes a good marriage that will last for a lifetime? These are questions that can be addressed in your English journal and/or brought to Friday night for discussion. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Relationships, Dating and Marriage

Relationships are a very important part of life.  Most of us have the desire to get married, to have friends, and be close to other people.  Very few people in the world do not have anyone who they can call a friend.  Even in prison, people form groups and crave the companionship of others.

However, today, there are many relationship problems.  For example, research has shown that, in the United States, half of all marriages end in divorce.  Relationships take a lot of work and care to maintain.

Think of some of your best relationships.  How are they different?  What makes them strong?

Relationships that are built on love are the strongest relationships.  We have all types of relationships. We have relationships with family, children, friends, husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, and business relationships.  These are all different in many ways.  However, when people talk about relationships, they often are talking about "love" relationships, that is, dating and marriage.

The Bible has a lot to say about many topics.  Relationships with others is a topic that the Bible has a lot to say about.

The Perfect Relationship

When I think about the perfect relationship, I think of the relationship that Jesus had with others. When we read the Bible we see that:
  • Jesus never swore (said bad words)
  • Jesus never hit anyone
  • Jesus never threw a temper tantrum
  • Jesus never made a person upset for no reason
  • Jesus was never jealous
  • Jesus gave everything he had without the expectation of getting anything in return.
We may feel that we can not live up to Jesus' example.  We can learn from him, however.  How we treat others influences how good our relationships become.  A relationship that is built on the self, jealousy, and pride will fall, but a relationship that is built on love and respect for the other person will thrive.

Searching for a Partner

When looking for a partner, consider the words in Proverbs:

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." (Proverbs 10-11)

This can be said of a husband as well.  When searching for someone, search for someone who you would want to spend the rest of your life with.  Looks and beauty have some importance, but far more important is the love that you can share.  You will want to be with someone who shares your life goals and beliefs.  You will have a better relationship with someone who you enjoy spending time with.  If you marry just for looks you may find that you are disappointed when beauty fades and you have nothing in common with your partner.

Another similar quote in Proverbs is:

"A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones." Proverbs 12:4.

When thinking about the perfect mate, ask yourself:

  • What goals do you want to share?
  • Do you both want children?  How many?
  • Where do you both want to live?
  • Do you both like the same things?
  • Do you want someone who spends a lot of time at home or likes being outside?
  • What beliefs do you have?  
Recently we celebrated our 14th year wedding anniversary.  While our relationship has had many challenges, it has worked because we put God first in our lives.  We also waited until being married to begin living together.  There is much to say on this subject, and we may talk about it in another class.

The beginning of marriage is an important time to build your relationship.  Marriage is a lot different than dating.  Many people begin to realize more about the person they are with after they are married.  In the Bible, the rules set for the Jewish people stated:

"If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married." Deuteronomy 24:5

Why do you suppose this rule was put in place?  

The early part of the marriage is a time to create the foundation of your relationship.  Much love is shared after a marriage and it is very hard for a couple to leave each other right after marriage.  In modern times many people are forced to part due to circumstances in life, sometimes right after getting married.

English Journal Questions:
  1. Think of some people who seem to have good relationships and those who have relationships that are not as good.  What are some of the reasons why people have good relationships?
  2. What do you think you could improve in your relationships with your partner?
  3. Are there things that you look for in a partner?  
  4. Do you feel in a hurry to get married?
A preview of Next Week's Friday Night English Club - Relationships, Dating and Marriage II

Next week we will talk again about Dating, Marriage and Relationships.  Some of the topics we will cover will be: feeling in a hurry to get married, the subject of divorce and breaking up and life after marriage.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Maslow Revisited: Self-Actualization and Character Development

Are you the person that you want to be? Who are you really? Is there something about yourself that you want to change? These are some questions that we all ask ourselves at some point, or many points, in our lives. Many of us want to improve ourselves and work on self-development, but where do we start?

We had such a good discussion on the topic of Maslow and his heirarchy of needs that we decided to revisit it and focus more on the idea of self-actualization.

What is Self-Actualization?

Maslow defined it this way: "What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization...It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming."

In other words, it is meeting our potential and being the person that we really want to be.  Maslow believed that people are motivated (have an inward push or drive) by seeking (trying to find) fulfillment and change through personal growth.

What does Self-Actualization look like?

Maslow created a list of what he thought self-actualization looks like in a person.

1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;
3. Spontaneous in thought and action;
4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
5. Unusual sense of humor;
6. Able to look at life objectively;
7. Highly creative;
8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
12. Peak experiences;
13. Need for privacy;
14. Democratic attitudes;
15. Strong moral/ethical standards.
Behavior leading to self-actualization:
(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;
(d) Avoiding pretense ('game playing') and being honest;
(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;
(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.

Self-Actualized people

Maslow created a list of people the he believed had met their full potential. He included people such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Aldous Huxley, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Maslow believed that people are always growing and changing. He also believed that people are self-actualized by degrees (not everyone is at the same point), so he believed that there was no perfect person. But was there? Has there been anyone that has become everything that he was meant to be? 

When we look at the stories about Jesus in the Bible, we see that he meets all of the criteria for being a self-actualized person. He was a hard worker, cared for others, was honest, didn't try to meet the expectation of others, etc. And yet, according to the Bible, he was a perfect person. He didn't sin, but lived a life of pure devotion to God and His purposes, (he did everything that God wanted him to do).  

Why is this important?

There are two big reasons why this is important.

1. Jesus is our example

When we look at Jesus, we can see that it is possible to meet our full potential as unique human beings the same way that he did, by relying on and having a close relationship with God. Jesus often took time to pray and to study the word of God in the Bible. We can also see in his example that this often isn't popular with other people. He had the courage to stand up for what he knew was right and that shows us that we can and should as well. 

2. Jesus is our savior

Because sin separated humans from God, we needed a way to be reconciled (to have a close relationship again) back to Him.  Sin only leads to death, but because Jesus was perfect, he was able to take our place in death if we accept what he did for us. His sacrifice makes it so that we can be close to God again. Through him we have our sins forgiven and we are accepted as perfect. When people do this, they find that they are fulfilled. 


Perhaps Maslow is right, or perhaps he is wrong. Most people agree that humans are looking for fulfillment in their lives. We all search for something that makes our lives meaningful and happy. We believe that fulfillment and happiness can be found in accepting Jesus as our savior. More information about Jesus can be found at the following links:

(An audio presentation in English)

(A video in English)


English Journal Questions:

Do you agree with Maslow's list of characteristics?

Do you meet any of the criteria?

What area of yourself would you like to improve?