How To Target Your Kids Before They Do
May 2, 1999 Ephesians 6:1-4
This is progress?
Mass murder in our age of "enlightenment" by CAL THOMAS
While American forces bomb Yugoslavia with the announced intention of stopping one form of slaughter, gunfire comes to yet another public school in which more than a dozen have been slaughtered and others, critically wounded, remain In peril.
After Paducah, Ky., after Jonesboro, Ark., after Springfield. Ore., the pattern is familiar. With chips on their shoulders, grievances in their hearts, and weapons in their hands, students who should be planning for life instead plot death. They wound and kill fellow students for reasons known only to demons. Are these cries for help from the abused, neglected, and abandoned generation, or is this the price we continue to pay for believing we could live as we wish, laugh at morality, and imagine judgment day would never come? Why should young people take life seriously when their overworked, aborting, day-care, euthanasia culture does not? Life is so cheap, relationships are so meaningless-children get the message.
We await the psychiatrists' explanation, but don't we secretly know what it is? When you mix the ingredients for a cake, you get a cake. When you mix the volatile Ingredients of corrupted culture, vulgar entertainment, and broken, loveless families, you get child killers. Okay, so these are rare, but their rarity is small comfort when you are the victim or the parents of a dead child.
The initial profiles of the young people allegedly responsible for the killing fields that have now come to Littleton, Colo., are familiar: They were into Satanism, Nazism, hate, and violence. What Is making so many young souls so sick? There will be the predictable explanations from clinicians. And factual reports. But who can adequately explain this?
The end of the Cold War was supposed to usher in a new age of world peace and security, but we are less secure than ever. Genocide occurs in our "enlightened" age, and mass murder occurs at home. This is progress? This is peace? This Is security? Wasn't the Brady bill supposed to protect us from such things? Or maybe it was these 100,000 police officers.
Kurt Thompson, a Washington, D.C. area psychiatrist whose clients Include adolescents, sees today's teens suffering from a horrid sense of disconnection." They reconnected technically through the Internet, but they're disconnected relationally. Too many parents, he says, think by the time their children become teenagers their iob is almost done and that other forces will complete the shaping of young minds and spirits. Oh sure, we can put metal detectors at the school-house door, but who makes mental and moral detectors?
The pace of life can be just as fast in a big city as in a small town, says Dr. Thompson, and kids who are en the edge, or over it, are hard to spot.
It's not all the parents' fault. Teens are free moral agents. But Dr. Thompson says too many don't spend enough quality and quantity time with their children, nor do enough pray with and for them, or tell them how much they are loved and appreciated.
Government officials are making predictable statements. Look for some to suggest adding more gun laws to the thousands already on the books that didn't stop this latest shooting. Politicians are powerless; parents are not. Parents have the best chance of curtailing violence in the heart before it reaches the head and the hands.
-® 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate WORLD I May 1 1999
A Bull's-eye God by JOEL BELZ
He insists on being at the center of our existence.
There will be those who say that to take a symbol from the world of guns and weapons in the wake of Littleton, Cob., is in poor taste. To which I say that when you're desperate, as our society certainly is right about now, poor taste (or being politically incorrect) is one of the last things you worry about.
So let's make this point first: Societies regularly tend to think they have the option of doing one of three things with God. They put Him at the bull's-eye center of their existence, which is what many in our culture did during its earliest days. Or they totally exclude Him from the target, which is what our public society has formally sought to do during the last generation or two. Or they try to tolerate Him at the margins, somewhere in the outer rings of the target-which is what we typically do when we have a shooting at a public high school, a war, a hurricane, or some other violent emergency.
For the last week, you've been watching American society scramble back from the bleakness of trying to live with God totally off the target of their lives, struggling desperately now to find at least a little place for Him again in the outer rings.
No one pictured that more poignantly last week than columnist Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Steet Journal on "The Culture of Death." Ms. Noonan wrote: "People have had it. Something is different about this story. We've been through it before but the reaction this time suggests some critical mass has been reached.
"You could see it even in the unnerving sameness, the jarring predictability of what we saw on television as this very specific tragedy unfolded. We all know the Kabuki now, we know it by heart. First the aerial shots of kids fleeing the shooting, then the shot of the girl sobbing in the arms of her friends; after that the Associated Press photo of the boy with his baseball hat turned backwards, gesturing over a body; then the memorial at the local church with kids sobbing and a stricken pastor speaking; then the yearbook pictures of the perpetrators-' He was kind of quiet, kind of a weird guy'-then the neighbor's testimony about video games and Marilyn Manson; then the debate: 'It's the gun culture.' 'It's the community.'
"We all know how to do this now. We have been here before, and too often.... We all know our part. We all know what's next. The difference this time, so far, is that the finger pointing seems wan, halfhearted. People seem to be groping for that elusive thing, a satisfying answer-or partial answer-or a piece of the puzzle."
Then, after grimly describing the dark "culture of death" that has come to pervade the lives of American children, Ms. Noonan-right there in The Wall Street Journal-makes a startling point: 'A man called into Christian radio this morning and said a true thing. He said, and I am paraphrasing: Those kids were sick and sad, and if a teacher had talked to one of them and said, 'Listen, there's a way out, there really is love out there that will never stop loving you, there's a real God and I want to be able to talk to you about him'-if that teacher had intervened that way, he would have been hauled into court.
"Yes, he would have. It occurs to me at the moment that a gun and a Bible have a few things in common. Both are small, black, have an immediate heft, and are dangerous-the first to life, the second to the culture of death.
"One more thing: I think every intelligent person I know has been having thoughts like this for years, and they don't want to, and they're right not to want to, because it just may be true that this is one problem our resourceful and brilliant country cannot solve. The dark genie is out of the bottle and swims in the seas.”
Yet right as Ms. Noonan is, there's this critical follow-up point: The God of the Bible is not someone who simply wants to be reintroduced to the outer rings of our culture's targets and goals. It's easy to forget that what preceded the generation-long effort to exclude God altogether was a century-long effort to marginalize Him. But marginalization leaves everyone dissatisfied; believers are no longer nourished, while unbelievers can't stand even vestigial reminders of the past.
So now's a good time to remind ourselves: Our dying culture will not pass from death to life by a few nominal reversals of some of our worst denials of God. Allowing a symbolic Bible here and there, permitting a nonsectarian prayer now and then, tacking a summary of the Ten Commandments back up as a cultural icon-all those may satisfy an outrage here and there. But that's not what Ms. Noonan's "culture of death" concern is ultimately about. To respond with integrity to the cries we heard from Colorado last week means coming to grips with a bull's-eye God and hearing His insistence that He will not settle for anything other than the center of our existence. We've tried nominalism in the past; we've tried relegating this God to the outer rings. And we ought to know by now that it doesn't work.
WORLD I May 1 1999
How To Target Your Kids Before They Do;
What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew
James Dobson recently told a story that sums up the experience of parenting. The mother of a 5-year-old girl became so sick that she had to stay in bed for an entire day. She awoke to her daughter standing beside the bed holding a cup of hot tea. The mother showed both delight and concern at the sight of her 5-year-old daughter standing there with cup of fresh hot tea. She exclaimed to her daughter that she didn’t know she even knew how to make hot tea. While she began to sip her tea the little girl told her "I did it just like you, Mommy." She explained how she ran the water into the pot and turned on the stove. Then how she got the tea leaves out and spooned them into the hot water. However, she did say she wasn’t able to find the tea strainer but that didn’t stop her. She said, "since I couldn’t find the strainer, I just used the fly swatter." Seeing the horrified look on her mom’s face, she quickly added—"Don’t worry, Mom. I knew that fly swatter in the kitchen was new so I used the old one".
Have you ever wondered at the wisdom of God in letting us become parents? God must really trust us to place the most precious gift of creation in our hands. Someone said "Every child begins life as a book with every page yet unwritten." There are at least four things every child wishes their parents understood about what they really need. As adults, we need to better understand the needs of the children whom God has trusted into our care. It really doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not. We all have some children in our lives. They may be nieces or nephews, your neighbor’s children, your students or your grandchildren. These truths are important for all of us to understand this morning.
1. Kids Need Unconditional Love.
Unconditional love recognizes everything good and bad about a person and chooses to love that person anyway. That is the kind of love that God has for people like you and me. John described it like this when he said,
This is love, not that we loved God but that he loves us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
That kind of love is not natural. You have to learn to love others like that, and you learn it with practice. What better place to practice than on the people you live with? If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because you don’t have to live in as close of contact with anyone as much as you do your own family. It’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time you don’t always get along. When you practice love in the family you’re learning to really love.
There are several ways to express love. Many times we love our kids but we don’t express it the way that they really need it. One noted author has stated that children need to find love expressed in three unique ways. One way is through affection. They need lots of hugs and touches and kisses. They need to feel it. A second way is through affirmation. They need to hear it. A lot of dads have a problem with this. We need to tell them — everyday, more than once a day. Affirm them and build them up with love. Another way is through attention. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is act of listening. When you look a person in the eye, on their level, you’re saying, "You matter to me. You’re valuable to me. I want to hear what you have to say. You’re important to me." You’re showing compassion, the same kind of compassion God shows you, you’re to show others.
Cornell University hooked up wireless microphones to 1000 fathers and studied them for several weeks and discovered that the average father spends in actual conversation with his children no more than 37 seconds a day. Love takes longer than that to communicate.
2. Kids Need Direction.
They need direction, advice and wisdom. Studies show that one of the most important indicators of kids who grow up to be successful adults is a strong sense of right and wrong. Kids need to hear and see modeled that there are things we should do and things we should not do.
There was a television special on the great rise of juvenile crime in America. Their conclusion was that the primary reason for so much crime by teenagers is a lack of concern for others. They’re motivated by a desire to please themselves through instant gratification, regardless of who gets hurt.
Chuck Colson, former Nixon "hatchet man" before his conversion and now President of Prison Fellowship recently told about a dinner attended by a very powerful lobbyist in Washington D.C. As Colson became acquainted with the gentleman, he asked him what issue he was currently involved with. The man replied that "We’re trying to get The Ten Commandments removed from every school room wall. We want to liberate the kids." The same man, 25 minutes later in the conversation, began to complain that the number one problem in schools today was theft. Colson said "Maybe we should put a sign on the wall that says, `Thou shalt not steal.’" Successful parenting cannot be accomplished in one’s spare time. If you have children, God has called you to be a responsible parent. It is one of life’s most awesome challenges.
3. Kids Need Discipline
They need correction because they make mistakes. There are no perfect children because there are no perfect parents. They need discipline, accountability and training. Hebrews 12:6 teaches that "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." If you love someone you care about them enough to correct them.
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ) If you refuse to discipline your child it proves you don’t love them.
Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. (Proverbs 19:18) Correct your children while there is still hope; do not let them destroy themselves.
This says that if I don’t correct my kids I’m helping them fail in life. I’m setting them up for failure if I allow them to develop habits that will tear them down.
There may be no greater controversy among educators, parents and child psychologists than the issue of discipline. Whatever ones opinion may be on the subject, few would question the shortage of disciplined children in America.
One European visitor to America commented that "this is the only country I know where people send their children to camp and their dogs to obedience school".
More and more we hear that an increasing amount of time spent by educators in our schools is on student discipline rather than on education. And when educators do this, their greatest obstacle comes not from the students but from the parents.
What is the most effective way to administer discipline to a child? Christian parents should model their discipline on the way God disciplines his own children. If you have asked Christ into your life, when you sin God does not punish you because all the punishment was paid for on the cross. But He does discipline us. There’s a big difference. The attitude behind discipline is love. God says to us, "I’m going to correct you. I’m going to help you go in the right way." As parents we must learn to correct without condemning. We must learn to discipline without destroying.
4. Kids Need Encouragement
I don’t believe there has been a more difficult time to be a child or a teenager than today. There is so much pressure and stress on kids. It’s tough on their self-esteem. Each generation seems rougher than the generation before.
A recent study indicated that self-esteem plummets from elementary school on through high school—declining every year as kids progress through junior high and high school. The older our kids get, the worse they feel about themselves. We are living in a society that is constantly tearing everything down – or setting expectations few can meet. We are living in a negative world where everything is "You can’t do it....you’re not good enough." So we lower our values and our moral standards. No wonder our kids feel bad about themselves.
Russel Banks, a New York author who specializes in writing about disaffected youth, puts some added insight into the nature of today’s youth problem. He says, “There’s something profoundly wrong with America. We have turned our children into raging monsters. It’s diabolical and it’s anthropologically deep. He says that the culprit is our consumer culture that does not protect our children from the assaults of advertising. Instead, we have allowed our children to become its primary targets, a form of colonization to turn them into a self-replicating consumer group. They are easy targets because they are the weakest, the most easily manipulated by images, the most easily sexualized, which are the very reasons they should be protected.”
He goes on to say that our children are aware of their exploitation, that they know they have become objects - turned into a thing. The effect of this is a boiling rage in our children who have been betrayed by the very forces that ought to be shielding them. We need to protect our children from the ravages of predatory consumerism. The main instrument for propagating this predatory consumerism is the television. We often decry the violence, the sexuality, and the inane (means stupid, ludicrous, foolish, pointless, asinine, ridiculous, banal, silly, insipid) programming, but the culprit is the incessant march of commercials. What is the thing you hate most about television? Isn’t it the commercials you have to sit through? The violent and sexual and inane programming they tempt you with is only to entice you to watch the commercials. You get sucked in, you endure them, and you get taken every time with the false expectations of our materialistic culture. You are being taught in the sanctity of your own home to prostrate yourself to another god who cares nothing for you or your children except what you can spend on him. How cheaply do we sell out the souls of our children? When parents realize they have sold out themselves and their children to the god of materialism, they tend to deal with that guilt by buying ever more stuff for their children. It is a vicious circle that never seems to end until we come face to face with the likes of the rage in Littleton – by children who have been abandoned to the demons of our age.
In my own mind, I see the reason for this rage our children have is because they see they only have commercial value and not spiritual value. Spiritual value is instilled by God because they, and all of us, are made in the image of God. When that value is not affirmed, and especially when that value is denigrated, anger is the result. Spiritual value is affirmed by the four points in this message: unconditional love, direction, discipline, and encouragement. Too many parents leave this to the television. We are all tempted. It is going to take determined effort. Your children may cry for the TV if you take it away. But what will really satisfy them are you and your time. We trust the culture and let the TV raise them and then hope they turn out all right. You cannot abdicate (give to someone else) your responsibility as a parent. Banks says that we need a deep critique of our present economic structure, and I would add, in relation to our spiritual structure. We have the nature of worship built into us by God. We will worship something.
There are many reasons proposed for the violence in Littleton – from insufficient gun laws; to deadbeat parents; to poor self esteem; to violent video games, television, movies; to insufficient school safeguards; to insufficient school counselors. The real reason is all of these and none of these. These reasons are just symptoms. The real reason is our way of life that has left God out. When we think of how to solve the problem, we come up with all these possible solutions, but we know in our hearts that, except for the grace of God, we are helpless against the headlong assault of our culture. The outcome of our way of life is inescapable. We are all victims of our culture. There may be some individual things we can do as parents and as a church, but we still live in the midst of a falling culture that is prompting these things. Again, it is a culture in which everyone will agree that something dreadfully wrong is taking place. Those of us with spiritual sight know that we need Jesus – our kids need Jesus. They see him best through us as we love, direct, discipline and encourage them.
Parents often quote from Ephesians 6 where children are commanded to obey their parents. However, parents should not neglect to read the fourth verse of that chapter. In it, Paul advises fathers to "Never provoke your children to wrath". In essence, the Bible warns adults of the danger of becoming an unpleasable parent. Some of us fall into a trap of assuming our own shortcomings and failures are our children’s also. In fact, we often demand a higher standard of excellence from them than we hold ourselves to.
A dynamics study group discovered the power of negative words. They noted that it takes three positive comments to undo the impact of one negative comment. In addition, it was also documented that if the first words spoken in a meeting are negative the entire tone of the remainder of the meeting will likely be perceived as negative.
What are the implications of that study for parents? Kids need three times as many positive comments as negative ones. Secondly, if the beginning of dialogue is a criticism, it is likely all they will remember about the conversation. That is the kind of parenting that leads a child to anger, frustration and rebellion.
One thing we must learn about parenting is that kids are like crops in the field. You just don’t know how they are going to turn out until they are full-grown. Every child has a different level at which they mature, and different gifts. Wise parents feed, water, cultivate and encourage their child all along the process. Some of the most successful adults were judged to be failures as children by other adults who didn’t understand this important principle. I have found it to be a source of encouragement to be reminded of these stories of success.
· A, young, aspiring musician was told by his instructor that his future as a composer was hopeless. That young man was Beethoven.
· A young boy’s parents were told that he had no singing voice. His name was Enrico Caruso.
· A mother had a conference with her young son’s teacher. The educator informed this mother that her son was slow and unable to keep up with the work the other children did. He encouraged her to keep her son home from school and let him learn to work on the farm. She disagreed and continued to encourage her child. That boy’s name was Thomas Edison.
· Another student had a similarly slow beginning in school but persisted. He even made it into graduate school where he submitted his doctoral thesis. It was rejected and he was expelled from the college. His name was Albert Einstein.
· A famous father sent his son to a prestigious boy’s school. Yet, his instructor wrote to the father and informed him that the other sixth grade boys made fun of his big head and funny looking body. He described how he often fled into the woods and cried out of loneliness and embarrassment. He recommended that the child be brought home as he showed little potential as a student or a leader. When this boy was a 70 year old man, he loved to hold up that letter as prove of his triumph over those who had written him off as a boy. His name was Winston Churchill.
Who can fairly estimate the influence of a parent who offers continuous encouragement to a developing child? Robert Fulton’s father died when he was four. However, his mother noticed the unusual interest he demonstrated for mechanical things. She often would take him to machine shops as a boy and allow him to watch the men and their machines work. When he was ten years old, his teacher scheduled a conference with he and his mother. In it, he complained that Robert was a daydreamer who showed little retention of anything he taught. His mother replied, "My son’s mind is so filled with wonderful imaginations that there is no room for your old, stuffy ideas". Fulton would later write that memory was his first and earliest of anyone who understood or believed in him. It is worth noting that when he introduced the steamship for the first time that the shores of the East River were filled with New Yorkers who came to watch him fail. He didn’t.
There is no greater task in life than being a parent. It has been described as a role that is over just about the time we get good at it. God understands the challenge, heartache, and struggle. He experienced all of this and more with us, and with what mankind did to his own son, Jesus.
After rearing four children who are now married, some more successfully than others, I advise parents to focus on two key principles. First, depend upon the Lord with all of your heart, mind and soul to be the best parent you can be. Get your own life together and make your home a holy place. If we don’t know how to do that, and few of us do by ourselves, we can find great encouragement from Jeremiah 33:3 which states, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know". In times when we are worried about our children, we can be comforted in the thought that as much as we love our children, God loves them even more. In times when they are out of our sight and protection, we find strength and peace in knowing they are never out of His sight and care. Secondly, I encourage you to enjoy the journey of parenting. When it begins, it seems as if it a road which has no end. In reality, it does never end – and you wouldn’t want it to. Just remember how you feel when your children fail to call or write or remember you. But the road does wind down much sooner than you imagine. There does come a time when your children become less dependent – at least most of them. The call to be a parent is a call of concern for humanity which we can never leave because we are a part of it along with everyone else. We are responsible for each other, but mostly for our own children. It is a road upon which we can never return. It is a one time, one way journey with no detours. Our children will become in large part, with some exceptions, whatever we help them to be. God help us all when some of those roads become dead ends. We lament Littleton, but this happens in many Chicago neighborhoods almost every day, at least on some level. God save the children!
"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6 NIVUS)
Surely we must get on target with our children before they destroy themselves – or someone else. May our children be a blessing and not a curse. May we be a blessing and not a curse to them. We can start by providing them a safe environment of love, direction, discipline, and encouragement – all powered by our faith and devotion to God through the love, direction, discipline, and encouragement he gives to us – if we listen.
What Women Wish Men Knew About Them
May 9, 1999 Galatians 3:26-28
Since today is Mother’s Day, it would be appropriate to talk about some aspect of womanhood as a challenge to all of us.
I heard recently that there is a book published entitled "Everything Men Know About Women." The title sounds interesting, but the book is actually a joke because every page of the book is blank. This humorous message is clear; that someone, probably a woman, thinks that men don’t know much about them. Actually, whether you are a man or a woman, you probably feel that way many times. Women would like to be better understood by men, and men would like to be able to understand women better.
I have been married for 32 years, have three daughters, have listened to and counseled women, and have studied the Bible about these unique creations of God. I love my wife and greatly appreciate women in general, but must confess that there are times I am at a loss to fully understand where they are coming from. I cannot pretend to be fully able to explain issues or approach life from a woman’s perspective, but my experience and what I know about the Bible are the basis for today’s message.
The Scriptures teach three vital principles about women. First, God created two human creatures, one being a man and the second being a woman. They were the greatest of all of God's creations and were made to rule over everything else God made. Secondly, men and women were created with a need for one another. Thirdly, today's text reveals that one of the many ramifications of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is that men and women are equally valued. One is not greater than the other. In fact, in the family of God, all barriers are destroyed, whether they be barriers of race, gender, language, culture or age. We are all valued the same by God, on the same level with his Son, Jesus Christ.
Every pain, discrimination, abuse and misunderstanding which women have encountered in this world flow out of either an ignorance or willful disregard from one of these three key principles. Now, that is not to suggest that women and men are anything at all alike. If I have learned anything in over fifty years of life, it is that men and women are wired in completely different ways.
For example, some men won't hesitate to pay $2 dollars for a $1 dollar item he really wants; on the other hand, some women won't hesitate to pay $1 for a $2 dollar item she doesn't want.
The difference can be seen in the way they approach marriage. A woman marries a man expecting him to change; a man marries a woman hoping she won't change.
I just have to interject this following story: A man went to a trade fair and discovered an interesting exhibit. In a glass case, two brains were offered for sale. One brain came from a woman and the other from a man. The woman’s brain was being offered for $200. Beside it was the man's brain which was being offered for $50,000. The man chuckled at the thought of how much more money the man's brain cost and asked the reason for such a variance in price, expecting that price was in relation to value. He was told that the man's brain cost more because it had never been used. The salesperson was a woman.
Today, we're going to look at some basic needs each woman has, and consider ways those needs might be met. First of all...
1. Women Need To Receive Love
Affection is one of the greatest needs a person is born with -- and it is a need that we never outgrow. Affection symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. When a woman knows someone truly loves her, it sends a powerful message of care, protection and concern.
Not all of us had the privilege of growing up in a loving home. However, I believe that any of us can learn to be more loving. We are indebted to Dr. Gary Chapman for his research into the subject of the different ways in which all of us give and receive love. He has stated that there are five primary "Love Languages" which rule our relationships. Do you know which of these five is your predominate love language?
(1). Words of Affirmation
Some people best sense affection from a steady diet of compliments. There is no greater example of this in literature than the Song of Solomon. There we find a man verbally expressing love for his wife, complimenting her again and again. Listen to what he says..."Your hair is like a flock of goats...Your teeth are like freshly shorn sheep...Your neck is like an ivory tower...Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon. (Song of Songs 4-7)
Now, men, there is no way you can compete with a smooth-talker like Solomon, but you can try. I would advise, however, that you be careful about comparing your wife's nose to one of the largest towers in Mid-East. She might not see it as a compliment. But I think you get the point. We could learn a lesson from King Solomon: say kind, caring things to the woman in your life. He was evidently pretty good at this. Solomon's compliments can be summed up -- All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
(2). Quality Time
Quality time means giving someone your full attention. It means looking at each other while talking. One way of spending quality time together is to participate in activities you both enjoy. It may be working in the yard, walking in the neighborhood, traveling, playing a sport, doing a hobby. The goal is to interact with each other. This is crucial to the long-term health of your marriage. One recent study indicates that in a typical week, the average married couple spends a total 37 minutes of time together. That's less than one-half of one percent of your time. No wonder so many marriages fall apart.
(3). Receiving Gifts
This way of expressing love is understood in the following way. It is providing something that you can hold in your hand and say, "This person was thinking of me". It may be something you purchased, or something you made, or it may be a gift of yourself--your time and attention. Many women love to receive flowers. Some men consider this an impractical purchase because they wilt and die within a few days. A woman once told me that is precisely why she loves to receive flowers -- it's like you're saying "I love you so much--forget about being practical, I want you to enjoy the beauty of this gift!"
(4). Physical Displays of Affection
Some women predominately sense affection by being touched. It may be a hug, or holding hands, or just an arm around her shoulder. Hugs have all kinds of positive benefits for out lives. Studies have shown that a woman cannot get too many hugs. They did a survey that life insurance companies study and found that men who kiss their wives every day before they go to work have fewer accidents on the freeway. They also discovered that men who kissed their wives the last thing before they go to bed at night live longer than any other men. They also found that the same group of men earned more money at their place of employment. The lesson here is obvious: if you want to avoid freeway accidents and live longer and increase your income, then begin and end each day with a kiss.
(5). Acts of Service
These are actions which express a willingness to meet daily needs. It may be helping around the house, keeping the car filled up with gas, taking out the trash, or other basic responsibilities. While these actions may not appear to suggest affection, they are ways of saying to your wife that you recognize her needs and are committed to meeting them.
How can we discover our own love language? Three questions asked make it possible to determine your own love language. What do others do which hurt me the most? The opposite of what hurts is likely your love language. What do you request most from others in your significant relationships? What you request most may be your love language. How do you most consistently express love in your most significant relationships? What you do best is likely your love language.
2. Women Need Clear Communication
It probably isn't a startling revelation that women enjoy communicating. Women typically prefer to express themselves verbally, using words grouped together in complete sentences. Some men just don't understand this. I was having dinner in a couple's home one evening, and the husband (who seemed to be in a race to finish the meal first) barked out "Meat," which translated means "Honey will you please pass the roast beef?" We all laughed when he did it, and his wife said, "He's using his 'company manners.' Usually he just grunts and points."
Several years ago Harvard University researchers studied the speech patterns of four year old boys and girls. One hundred percent of the noises coming out of the mouths of little girls had something to do with conversation. They were either conversing with somebody else, conversing with somebody imaginary, or conversing with themselves. All of the noises of little girls were making had to do with conversation. For little boys, they discovered, that only 60% of the sounds coming out of the mouths of little boys had to do with conversation. The other 40% were noises of either animals or machines. The truth of the matter is that men start off behind women in talking and we never catch up. Little girls have a better ability in conversing and communicating than little boys. This becomes a lifelong habit. As as result, women seem to understand the importance of clear communication better than men. That is why women who hardly know each other can have long and meaningful conversations. Just the other night, my wife was on the telephone for nearly thirty minutes. When she hung up, I asked her, "Who was that?" She said, "It was a lady who had the wrong number".
Yesterday at the Hike for Life, I noticed all the friends that some of our people seemed to meet on the way. The women could easily start a conversation about just anything and keep going. Men just seem to struggle to find something to talk about unless it is work or business, and that is a chore.
This is one of the greatest sources of difficulty between men and women. Most often, women talk to express emotions. Men, on the other hand, most often talk to solve problems. If married people don't understand this difference and adjust themselves to it, subtlety, someone else begins to fill that void in each other’s life. This is why two people can live in the same house together but they can become extremely lonely people.
Why do women need communication? Because they have a need for intimacy. The goal of improved communications is to build friendships in life. Philippians 2:4 "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.” In other words, don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others too and in what they are doing. Poor communication not only creates loneliness, it creates hostility. Effective communication strengthens the relationship and creates intimacy.
3. Women Need Clear Commitment
Women sense commitment in three primary ways. First is sympathetic love. Sympathy doesn't mean that one always agrees with how another person feels about certain issues. But it does mean learning to value others’ opinions and emotions. Someone once asked Einstein's wife if she understood the theory of relativity. She said, "No, but I understand Einstein." Her theory of relativity was in relation to who her husband was and not to his work. This was the love language she wanted. This is especially important in improving relationships between members of the opposite sex. We have already noted the difference in the way we communicate. On the average, it is now believed that women need to converse almost twice as many words a day as a man does. Women are made to be much more relational.
For example, one pastor I read about says he can watch almost any football game on television and enjoy it . But his wife, however, enjoys it much more if she knows anything at all about any of the players or coaches. She has been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan since she learned that the head coach’s wife and three daughters attend every Steelers game. She will watch the entire game just to see the camera show them watching the game.
I recently read a story about television talk show host Rosie O'Donnell. In her contract negotiations, she refused to sign until Paramount Studios agreed to build a child development center for the children whose parents work on her show. Now somebody like Jerry Springer wouldn’t hold out for something like that, would he?
A second way women find commitment is through satisfying love. This is loving others in a way that is satisfying to her. In marriage, it means reaching the goal of becoming one flesh. In other relationships, it means being helpful and dependable. In short, it means having the kind of relationships where legitimate needs are being met. Another way of describing it is to provide a replenishing relationship in her life. Some people only drain life out of us. They never contribute, they never "fill us back up", they only take away from us.
A third way is sanctifying love. That is a big, profound theological word that means to cleanse something to the point of making it ceremonially clean. In the Jewish faith, it meant making an object pure. In human relationships, it means influencing someone to be a better person. There is a scene in the Oscar winning film, As Good As It Gets, between Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt's character. When she demands a complement from him, he says to her, "I like being around you. You make me want to be a better man."
4. Women Need a Relationship With God.
It is crucial that this message is proclaimed. God loves women. They played some of the most significant roles in Scripture. We cannot relegate women to a secondary value in the eyes of God. The message of the Bible upholds male headship for the governing of the home and of the church. There are role differences. But we must not forget that Eve did not bring sin into the world by herself as if Adam didn’t have the choice to say “No.” Both men and women have the same fallen nature and the same need of a Savior. And by faith in that Savior they are both brought together in unity, harmony and reconciliation, and they both equally inherit the Kingdom of God.
Consider how significant is the role of women in Scripture. If there had never been a Sarah, the children of Israel would have never been born. When the children of Israel left the slavery of Egypt, they were led by Moses. Yet, without his sister Miriam, he would not have survived childhood. In the Book of Judges -- the darkest period of Jewish history -- the people are led by wicked and corrupt men. Yet Deborah, the only judge who was a woman, was a Godly influence and Israel benefited from her leadership.
In the New Testament, we see the same thing. The first person told of the coming of Jesus Christ to this world was a young, teenaged woman named Mary. The first person to receive the gospel of Christ on the continent of Europe was a woman named Lydia. She was a successful business woman in the city of Philippi and was won to Christ by the apostle Paul. And, it is interesting to note that the first to learn of the resurrection of Christ were not the disciples, but women like Mary Magdalene who were at the grave early on Sunday morning while Peter, James, John and the others were holding out in a secret room.
What is the point? I share it to relate to all women just how much God loves you and values you. Some uninformed people believe that Christianity has a lowly view of women, and that simply is not the case. Christianity is responsible for elevating the status of women in society. (Compare the status of women in countries that are not predominantly Christian, and you will see the difference.) The Bible teaches that you are not just an object or a possession--you are God's wonderful creation, and He loves you. In a day when women are excelling in so many arenas of life, it is worth pausing for a moment and reflecting on the urgency of excelling spiritually. As a woman, you can reach your full potential in life only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is a second reason I say that women need the Lord. It is because of all of your incredible responsibilities. You wear so many hats. I thought about the women I know best in my life. They are my mother, my daughters and my wife. I counted at least seventeen roles which I have observed these women provide in my life. Nearly every woman in this room provides similar services for her family and loved ones.
They have served as my cook, nurse, counselor, policeman, clothier, gardener, interior decorator, photographer, secretary, educator, financial planner, cheerleader, spiritual advisor, chauffeur, seamstress, telephone operator and maid. (At one time or another, all of them have also attempted to be my boss).
This is why women need a personal relationship with God. You need Him to provide strength, discernment, perseverance, wisdom, and protection. The good news is that Jesus understands just how difficult your life can be at times. That is why He relates this offer to your life this morning.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am humble and gentle in heart and you will find rest for your soul". Matthew 11:28
What Men Wish Women Knew About Them
Psalm 8:4 • by Mark A. Scott
This is the day when Father’s are being honored across our land. A teacher ask her class of elementary age students the difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. One little boy said. "Well, they are just about the same except you don’t have to spend as much money for your dad’s present". There has been and will always be a great battle between men and women. We are clearly unique and often frustrate the opposite sex as much as you frustrate us. Just the other day, I read that if women were in charge of the world, all men would have to attend the following seminars.
· Overcoming Stupidity
· PMS -- Learning When To Keep Your Mouth Shut
· How to Fill an Ice Tray
· Parenting--It Doesn’t End With Conception
· Get A Life -- Learning How to Cook
· Garbage -- Getting It To The Alley
· Shopping at the Mall Without Getting Lost
· The Remote Control -- Overcoming Your Dependence
It is true -- sometimes you wonder what men do with all of that empty space between their ears. As some of you know, I enjoy collecting stupid criminal activities. Here are some of my latest collections, all of them true stories of incidents involving men.
In Illinois, a man pretending to have a gun kidnapped a motorist and forced him to drive to two different ATM machines where the criminal preceeded to withdraw money from his own bank accounts...
A man entered a Kwik Shop in Topeka, Kansas and demanded that the manager give him all of the money in the cash drawer. The take was so small that the criminal tied up the store manager, put on his apron and worked the counter himself for the next three hours -- only stopping when the police showed up to arrest him...
Police in San Diego solved a string of robberies recently through the utilization of a police line-up. When the detective asked each suspect to repeat the words, "Give me all your money or I will shoot." One suspect objected, "But that's not what I said!"
In Modesta, California, Steven Richard King was arrested for attempting to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. He tried to fool the teller by using his thumb and forefinger to simulate a gun. The ruse was working fine until the failed to keep his finger and thumb in his pocket.
A 911 operator in Joliet, Illinois received a frantic telephone call. A man was shouting into the phone, "My wife is trying to have a baby and the contractions are two minutes apart!" The 911 operator responded, "Is this her first child?" "No, you idiot! This is her husband!"
A man attended a trade show. He noticed that a merchant had a glass case and behind it were two human brains for sale. One was being sold for $50,000 and the other was being offered for $25. The man asked the difference in the two. The merchant replied, "The one which is $50,000 is a man’s brain and the one that is $25 is a woman’s brain". The customer laughed and said, "It figures that the man’s brain is worth more but why is there such a difference in price". "Oh, that’s easy, the woman’s brain has been used". The truth of the matter is that God equally loves both men and women but made us with some unique needs. Here are four which men have.
1. Men Need Affection
Dr. Gary Chapman, a leading family and marriage therapists, has described in his book, The Five Languages of Love, five unique love languages men and women utilize in relating to one another. I shared these in an earlier message on what women wish men understood about them. I believe they are so important that I am going to share them with you again.
Affection is a great need of both men and women. Affection is one of the greatest needs that a person is born with and one that we never outgrow. Affection symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. When a man has someone in his life who truly loves him and who will freely express that to him, it sends a powerful message of affirmation, trust and commitment. Not all of us had the privilege of growing up in an loving home. However, I believe that any one of us can learn to be more loving.. Do you know which of these five is your predominate love language?
(a). Words of Affirmation
Some of us best sense affection from a steady diet of compliments. Some of us need to improve a bit in learning out to verbally express affection to the significant men in our lives, whether they be ones husband, dad or brother. It has been suggested that the reason women have greater imagination is to be able to tell men how wonderful they are.
(b). Quality Time
Quality time means giving someone your full attention. It means looking at each other while talking. Some ways of doing that are through participating in similarly enjoyable activities at the same time. It may be working in the yard, it may be walking in the neighborhood, it may be traveling, it may be playing a sport or working on a hobby. However, it is translated, it means having quality time to interact together. In marriage, this is so crucial to the long term health of your relationship. One recent study indicates that the average married couple spends less that one hour, per week, doing something together. When you consider the fact that there are 168 hours in a week, that not much time together. Some women are not too sensitive to how much men would like their full attention.
This is my first Father’s Day to experience since the death of my father. While he and I were on good stead with one another, I do wish that I had made spending time playing golf with him a greater priority in the years of his retirement. We did do that from time to time but we could have done that more often. I believe that if I had been able to make that a greater priority in my schedule that it would have communicated the depth of my love to him.
(c). Receiving Gifts
This way of expressing love in understood in the following way. It is providing something that you can hold in your hand and say, "This person was thinking of or remembering me". It may be a gift of something you purchased, it may be a gift of something you made or it may be a gift of yourself, your time and attention.
(d). Physical Displays of Affection
Some women find the predominate way that they sense affection is by touch. It may be a hug, it may be holding a hand, it may be just an arm around a shoulder. Hugs have all kinds of positive benefits for our lives. Studies have shown that a man cannot get too many hugs. They did a survey that life insurance companies study and found that women who kiss their husbands every day before they go to work have fewer accidents on the freeway. They also discovered that men who kissed their wives the last thing before they go to bed at night live longer than any other men. They also found that the same group of men earned more money at their place of employment If you want to avoid an accident and live long and see things pay off, begin and end the day with a kiss. Be sensitve to a man’s need for physical touching. A boy was courting a girl and took her out for a long drive around his farm. He stopped a car where two his cows her nuzzling one another, licking each other around the lips. The boy looked at the girl and said, "I sure would like to do that". She said, "Go ahead, it is your cow."
(e). Acts of Service
Another way of saying that is that actions which express an understanding and willingness to meet legitimate needs. It may be helping around the house, preparing a hot meal, seeing that the house is a warm and inviting place to come to. While those actions may not appear to suggest affection, in reality they are ways of communicating that one perceives needs in that man’s life and is willing to see that they are being met..
How can we discover our own "love language?" Three questions asked make it possible to determine your own love language.
1. What do others do which hurt me the most? The opposite of what hurts is likely your love language.
2. What do you request most from others? What we request most may be our love language.
3. How do you most consistently express love in your most significant relationships?
Answer those three question and you will likely discover your love language.
2. Men Need Encouragement
It is a well established fact that this is a broken down world in which we are living. One of the great challenges for men is to be able to remain positive, optimistic and focused in ones role as a leader in ones home. One of the greatest ways you can help your father, your brother, your husband or your friend is to make a commitment to be an encouraging person whenever you are together.
The scriptures have a lot to say about the wise use of our speech.
"Reckless words pierce like a sword but but the tongue of the wise brings healing" Proverbs 12:18
"An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25
"A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
"A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
"The tongue has the power of life and death." Proverbs 18:21
Mark Twain once said, "I can live two months on a good compliment". However, most of us need a lot more than that. Words are like seeds. We plant them in the life of other people and they bring forth either flowers or weeds, health or desease, joy or sadness. Because this is a broken down world, much of what men hear at work is not encouraging. They deal with pessimism, anger, threats, insecurity and frightening words as well. Notice again the words of Proverbs 12:25. "An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up." Does that describe how you relate to te men who live in your home? A saleman had been away from home for an entire week. Homesick and worn out, he went into a cafe for some breakfast. The waitress came to take his order and he said, "I want two scrambled eggs, coffee and a kind word". She brought him his eggs and coffee and he said, "Now, how about that kind word?" She looked at him and said, "Don’t eat them eggs".
Why is it important to make this emphasis? Because our words are a mirror of what is in our heart. Negative words flow out of a negative heart and a negative attitude may have devastating effects on a father, husband or brother. The alternative is to plant words of praise and encouragement. Let me give you a nugget of gold to take home this morning. EVERYONE LOVES TO BE PRAISED.
William James wrote, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated". Someone else has said, "praise does wonders for our hearing". Here are three suggestions of how you can be a greater encourager.
1. Praise specifically Acknowledge those things you truly appreciate about your dad, brother or husband. Tell him what it and is and why you appreciate that quality in their life.
2. Praise Truthfully. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:11 "the words of the wise are like goads...like firmly imbedded nails". When we carefully state positive words of truth in our relationships, we goad or direct those people in the right direction.. Speaking the truth keeps us from stating empty flattery that means nothing. Giving flattery that is pointless and false to a man is like feeding a starving man a steady diet of cotton candy. It is great at a ball game or fair but you will die if that is all you get to eat. Speaking the truth in love feeds a persons soul. It results in assurance, security, worth and value. It is the compass in the storm that steers him in the right direction.
3. Praise Generously. Now, before you think that you may ruin your dad or mate with too much praise, remember that he is functioning every day in a very broken down world. No man has to sell himself short, the world will always do that for him. Don’t be so stingy in expressing praise to one another. Our homes ought to be places where we get our self-esteem tanks refilled. Is that a description of your home?
3. Men Need Influence
Look at these proverbs which speak about influence:
"Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still." Proverbs 9:8
"He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25
"A wise son heeds his father’s instructions." Proverbs 13:1
"A perverse man stirs up dissension." Proverbs 16:28
Everyone of us is a person of influence. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we do to earn our living. We are all like a rock thrown in a pond. We wash over onto other peoples live in either a positive or a negative kind of way. We all would like to come to the end of our life and be truly missed by others. We would like for their to be a gap that someone else will have to fill when this life ends for us. How do we leave a positive influence? Here are four valuable ways to leave a positive influence on your family, your community, your church and your friends. In John Maxwell’s recent book, Becoming A Person of Influence, he mention three different ways to be a person of positive influence.
One way is through Modeling. This is especially important if you are a father or grandfather. Your greatest impression will be through the kind of lifestyle you model in your home. The greatest legacy we leave on our families will be "caught" more than taught. A second way we do this is through Motivating. We do this by connecting with other people on an emotional level. When that occurs, we have the opportunity to transfer our optimism, joy and confidence to other people. Secondly, we also are able to express our confidence in another’s abilities. This is especially important when our children are faced in difficult challenges in their lifes. I remember as if it were yesterday by father’s response to be in one of my darkest days which occured many years ago. We were in a dark restaurant which described my outlook on my life. My father’s confidence in me and his optimistic outlook was the greatest key ingredient in not be destroyed over what happened to me. A third way this is accomplished is by Mentoring. Mentoring is caring enough about the potential of another person to pour your own life into someone elses to enable them to reach their full potential. As you give them yourself, you enable them to overcome obstacles and teach them how to continue to grow personally and professionally in their life.
The bottom line is this. You are a person of influence. You will either have a positive or a negative influence on others in this life. When we choose to be a person of positive influence, we had value to the life of others. Whether it is a baby-sitter who reads to a child, to the teacher who inspires a student to love science, to the boss who enables an employee to see their potential to enlarge their horizons and trusts them with areas of reponsibilities, to parents who instill in their children not onl and understanding of what is right but who also teach them the grace of forgiveness and acceptance - you add value of life to others.
From time to time, all of us need to reminded of what is truly important in life. Rabbi Harold Kushner has written a book entitled, When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough. He contends that American men have bought into three myths for most of the 20th century. Those myths are:
· doing something that makes money is more valuable than shaping someone’s soul
· working with numbers is more valuable that working with human beings
· working with adults is more valuable than working with children.
In the sum of life, that simply does not compute. Lee Atwater, at the age of 37, was the manager of George Bush’s successful presidential campaign. Many insiders believe that if he had lived that George Bush would have never lost his second presidential election to Bill Clinton. However, Lee Atwater’s life changed dramatically on March 5, 1990. He was at that time chairman of the National Republican Party, his wife was pregnant with their third child, he had plans to record a rhythm and blues album with his idol, B.B. King. That afternoon he was delivering a speech at a fund-raiser in Washington D.C. when his foot began to shake. He tried to ignore it but eventually, his entire left side of his body began trembling until he collapsed on the spot. He was rushed to George Washington University Medical Center. By that evening, he and his family were informed that he was suffering from a brain tumor and that he was in for the fight of his life.
Lee Atwater would not win that battle. He only lived for a few months yet in those days, he came to grips with what was truly important in this life. Suddenly, walking in the corridors of power was not so important. He would confess that he suffered from guilt over how he had allowed his career to rob him of precious time with his wife and children. During those days, he reconciled with his father who was also fighting cancer. He came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior and he made new friends who helped him to begin to grow in Christ. In the last article he wrote before his death, he reminisced about the power and prestige which had been his. Then he said, in an ironic manner, "What power would I not now trade for a little more time with my wife and children? What price would I not pay for another evening with my friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth - you can learn that on my dime".
4. Men Need Purpose
If I were to ask our audience why the number one goal of your life is, would be your answer? In one way or another, most of us would say that our goal is to be happy. And, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is determining how happiness is found.
Most of us look for that in one of three ways. We believe happiness is either found in acqiring possessions, pleasure or power. Solomon, the wisest and most gfifted man of the Old Testament, tried all three methods.
"I amassed silver and gold for myself and treasures of kings and provinces." Ecclesiastes 2:8
"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired-I refused my heart no pleasure." Ecclesiastes 2:10
"I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me." Ecclesiastes 2:9
Most of us dream of having just one of those fantasises come true in our life. All three were reality for Solomon. Yet, look at the result of achieving those goals in his life. "I hated life...all of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind". Is there a better way to live? The answer is yes. The better way is discovering why you are made and what your purpose on life is to be. The way that is discovered in through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You see, the answer is not in becoming religious but in finding a relationship.
Every person is created with a God-shaped vacumm in their life and it remains empty until we come to know Christ as savior. There is no other way to come to know him. Jesus said about himself,
"I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by me". At some point in every person’s life, he or she has to make a decision about what they are going to do with the claims of Jesus Christ. The scriptures remind us of a sobering truth.
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) Now is the time to determine what kind of man you are going to be. Now is the time to determine what kind of influence you are going to have on other people. Now is the time to determine what kind of husband, father, grandfather, employee, employer you will be. How that decision is answered may be the difference in life or death for you or others whom you love.
In July, 1976, seven terrorists held 103 Israeli hostages at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda. The Israeli’s sent in a rescue unit and within 15 minutes the crisis was ended. All seven terrorists were shot dead but unfortunately, three hostages also died. An investigation into their deaths revealed a startling truth. When the rescuers burst into the airport, they yelled in the Hebrew language, "GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR AND CRAWL!" The only ones who could understand the language were the Israelis and they obeyed. That is, all but three did. Two refused to fall down and the third one initially obeyed but then decided to get back up and see what was taking place. Those who obeyed live -- those who would not died. The voice we choose to listen to is extemely important. It may mean the difference in life and death.