Jumat, 31 Oktober 2014

Bringing Laughter into Your Marriage

Bringing Laughter into Your Marriage 

The more you laugh together, the more you love your spouse.

Essayist and biographer Agnes Repplier, who was known for her common sense and good judgment, said, "We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh."
We couldn't agree more. And we believe the implication of her statement is also true: The more you laugh together, the more you love your spouse.
So, with this in mind, we offer the following tips on bringing a daily dose of laughter into your marriage.

Remember Rule Number 6

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him. "Peter," he says, "kindly remember rule number 6," whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by a hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: "Marie, please remember rule number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.
When the scene is repeated a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: "My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of rule number 6?"
"Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so seriously.'"
"Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?"
"There aren't any."
Rule number 6 is a good rule for every spouse who's looking for a daily dose of laughter. If you're like most people, you can take life and yourself a little too seriously, and that always stunts laughter. So lighten up. Relax. Remember what really matters. And remember rule number 6.

Poke Fun at Your Spouse — Carefully

In college I (Leslie) shared a single bathroom with several other girls on the same floor of a residence hall. I enjoyed communal living during that time of my life. We all became good friends and learned so much about each other — especially each other's little quirks. One of the girls, for example, was often irritated by the little globs of toothpaste that inevitably appeared in the bathroom sink each morning from so many users. Everyone knew Lisa would complain. We came to expect it and often joked with her about being a neat-freak.
When Lisa got married at the end of our school year, we were all at her wedding, and one of us (who shall remain nameless) warned her soon-to-be husband about her dislike of toothpaste in the sink. Apparently, he made a mental note of the comment, and when Lisa went into the bathroom on the first morning of their honeymoon, she found the following message written in the sink with a thick blue line of toothpaste: "I Love You, Lisa!"
This new husband understood the value of a good marital laugh right from the beginning. And while his first attempt at poking fun at his wife could have backfired, it didn't To this day, years later, they both love telling the story.
Now, let's be clear that poking fun at your spouse must be done with caution. For example, you should steer clear of joking about sensitive issues, such as your partner's weight, family, work, and so on. In other words, if you're not sure if your partner will think it's funny, you'd better refrain.

Laugh When You Don't Feel Like Laughing

A woman discovered a shelf of reduced-price items at a local bookstore. Among the gifts was a little figurine of a man and woman, their heads lovingly tilted toward one another. "Happy 10th Anniversary" read the inscription. It appeared to be in perfect condition, yet its tag indicated "damaged." Examining it more closely, she found another tag underneath that read "Wife is coming unglued."
Let's face it, no spouse is immune to stress. We all feel like we're coming unglued at times. And wise experts agree that the best way for anyone to cope is with a good laugh. "Humor makes all things tolerable," said preacher Henry Ward Beecher. "Laugh out loud," says Chuck Swindoll. "It helps flush out the nervous system." On another occasion Chuck said, "Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity." Arnold Glasgow said, "Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects." The point is that even when you've had a tough day, or should we say especially when you've had a tough day, you need to laugh. It will help wash away the stress and keep the two of you together when you're coming unglued. So help each other to find something funny even when it's not easy.

Look for the Funny Around You

On a recent flight between Seattle and Oklahoma City, I (Leslie) had my head buried in a book and was oblivious to my husband's boredom. He had nothing to read, and in his desperation, he began thumbing through in-flight magazines. Unbeknownst to me, Les was cutting various pictures out of these magazines with his handy Swiss Army pocket knife (this was before such a gizmo would be confiscated by airport security). He found a large photo of a monkey head and placed it in the window next to his seat. He cut out the watch from a photo advertisement for Rolex and taped it to his wrist. And to top off his cutting spree, he found a red ball and taped it to his nose.
Knowing that timing is everything when it comes to humor, Les waited. We sat side by side in our cramped little seats, and he waited. I read. He waited. Les waited for me to look up from my book so he could see my reaction to a monkey looking in on us at thirty-five thousand feet. He waited for me to ask for the time so he could see me react to his "Rolex." He waited to see the reaction I'd have to a clown nose taped to the somber face of my husband. Les waited so long — he fell asleep. But that didn't spoil the fun.
When I finally looked up from my book, I saw his handiwork. But I muffled my laughter to let him enjoy his sleep. In fact, I decided to take a catnap too. Who knows how long we slept, but it was long enough for two flight attendants to don red noses and wake us up to tell us we were landing.
You never know where you can find a good laugh. So look for the funny around you and create it when you have to.

Study Your Spouse's Funny Bone

One of the reasons many couples never reach their "laughter potential" is because they have never taken humor seriously. Sounds strange, but to bring more laughter into your relationship, you need to know what makes your husband or wife laugh. After all, each of us has a unique sense of humor.
As public speakers, we've experienced occasions where someone will laugh out loud at something most everyone else would barely chuckle at. And, of course, some people never crack a smile at something almost everyone else thinks is hilarious. So your job is to find those things your partner thinks are most funny by paying attention to when he or she laughs.
"I never realized how much Susan laughs at a silly comic strip," a participant at one of our seminars told us. "When you asked us to think about each other's humor styles, it dawned on me that I hardly ever laugh at comics in the paper, but she seems to really enjoy them." This enlightened husband went on to tell us how he was now learning to laugh at comic strips too. He now makes a habit out of reading them and even cuts one out to show Susan from time to time.
Maybe your partner likes a sarcastic wit. Maybe it's slapstick that makes him or her laugh. Or maybe it's the old classic sitcoms like The Andy Griffith Show. Wherever his or her funny bone is located, find it and use it — at least once a day.

The "Good Enough" Mom

The "Good Enough" Mom

by Dr. Juli Slattery
My son Andrew begged me to come on his field trip and be a parent driver. I calculated that I could work a half day before joining my son at the school, and this would be one of those few times I could feel like "supermom."
Unfortunately, when I arrived at Andrew's school, I was informed that I couldn't be a driver because my insurance information wasn't on file. So rather than driving all of Andrew's friends to the mining museum, I drove one disappointed son. After a few hours of touring the museum, the field trip concluded in a warm, dark room with a film about the many lives that had been lost to mining.
At some point during the film, the rush of the day caught up with me, and I dozed off. Apparently, I had a humorous dream and began laughing out loud. Andrew nudged me, and I awoke to his horrified look and the stares of about 200 parents, teachers and fourth-graders.
In moments like these, I become keenly aware of how inadequate I am as a mom. Even my best efforts never seem to be enough.
Often when doubts plague me, I remember a phrase from grad school that referenced the "good enough mother." Since I can't be the perfect parent, what are the basics that God requires from me as a mom? What's "good enough" to Him?
Apart from being faithful to provide for the physical needs of my children, God's definition of good enough is really quite simple and can be evaluated by asking myself two questions:
1. Am I seeking wisdom? Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." My friend, without consistently asking the Lord for His wisdom, you and I will inadvertently tear down the very homes we are trying to build. His wisdom provides the insight, grace and tenacity to mother well.
2. Am I loving my kids? The Bible is a big book with many complicated instructions, but Jesus simplified it when He said that His entire Law could be boiled down to loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40). His love expressed through me will cover many parenting mistakes.
Striving to be a "good enough" mom isn't a cop-out. Instead, it's an acknowledgement that I can't be God — all-sufficient, all-knowing and ever-present — to my children.  In trying to be "supermom," I sometimes forget that the Lord has not called me to be perfect, but to faithfully walk in wisdom, love and humility.
And if what I do is good enough for Him, it's good enough for me.

This article originally appeared in the Summer, 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.

Jumat, 24 Oktober 2014

Let's walk together . . .

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

Let's walk together . . .
(En Español)
Come join us on Facebook where we post daily and timely quotes from Pastor Francis. Here are some recent quotes...
I know well the power of a mother's prayer. In the 1960s I was a very lost man. Yet my dear mom prayed unceasingly for me. Finally, divine power, uniquely born of her prayers began to turn my heart until, in 1970, I came to Christ in the Jesus Movement. Years later I asked the Lord about this revival. My task was to help inspire unity and prayer in the church, things which precede revival. Yet seemingly neither preceded the Jesus Movement. "Lord," I asked, "how could revival occur without a prayer movement?" The Lord said that there was indeed a great prayer movement. He had answered the prayers of a million praying mothers crying for their children. -- In Christ's Image Training
The Bible tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). What we discover for ourselves is that between "child" and "old" God makes prayer warriors of the parents.
Stay with your prayer. Don't back down. Even if you are hurt or disappointed by those you are praying for, or should you suffer painful delays, stay focused. If you maintain your faithfulness though you are wounded, you will gain spiritual currency. Indeed, the steadfast prayer of the wounded intercessor holds great sway upon the heart of God. -- In Christ's Image Training
We have been too polite with God. I do not mean we should be irreverent; I am saying the Lord's Prayer is not a weak, pleading prayer. There is a time to plead with God, but what Jesus gave was prophetic. There is not a "please" in it. Indeed, it's the Father's pleasure to give us His kingdom (Luke 12:32). Thus, Jesus is not instructing us to beg for it, but to align our lives with it and then announce it. He is commanding us to call for God's kingdom to rule on earth, in our lives, churches and cities. This is a prayer of authority. Do we see this? The Son of God wants us to pray like we were created to bring Heaven to earth!
To order and download a book of quotes from Pastor Francis:
Arrow Bookstore
To join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/francisfrangipane

How to Express Your Anger

How to Express Your Anger

When was the last time you were angry with someone you loved?  When was the last time someone you loved, rightly or wrongly, thought you were angry with them?
Just the other day, I was upstairs in our house. I heard Trent and Troy being boys downstairs, which means they were having some fun, running and chasing each other from one room to the next. Suddenly, I heard a door slam. Trent had slipped into the bathroom, hoping to hide from Troy.
Bam! Bam!
What was that? I quickly realized it was the sound of Troy kicking the door behind which Trent was hiding.
Bam! Bam!
Troy knew better than to kick a door. I was in no mood to have to repair or replace it, so I shouted down to them to knock it off.
The kicking immediately ceased and I heard Trent open the door. I made my way downstairs to talk with them about the incident.
When I saw Troy, I could see he was upset, complete with tears in his eyes. I was surprised, especially since he was the offender and agitator. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “You’ve never yelled at me like that before,” he answered softly. “It scared me.”
Over the years, I’ve certainly done my share of reprimanding the boys, but my temperament is more inclined toward conversation than loud confrontation. I’m just not a yeller, nor do I respond well to it, either, except maybe on the football field.
The way I released Troy’s tension was to let him know what made me anxious was that I wasn’t good at repairing things and if he broke the door, it would cause me a lot of stress to fix it.  He laughed and said, “Really, you’re good at repairing things.”  I said, “Not really.”  He was amused.
Troy is a gentle and sensitive fellow, and he’s quick to heed correction, but like me, just doesn’t respond favorably to raised voices.
Every parent must correct and guide their child in a manner that best matches their personal temperament. If you have more than one child, what works for one may not work for the other. Some children will crumble at even the slightest glare. Others require far more direct communication.
One size doesn’t fit all.

How do I truly forgive?

Marriage Notes: How do I truly forgive?

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)
Heather: From anger to peace
I believed I'd forgiven my husband for his selfish attitude toward me. He had been physically present but emotionally absent, consumed by his own desires. I'd said, "I forgive you." But words of forgiveness are different from true forgiveness that leads to healing and reconciliation. I still found myself excessively thinking about what I claimed to have forgiven. I then asked God for a forgiving heart. I knew that I'd truly forgiven my husband when my anger was finally replaced with peace.
Joseph: Forgiving myself
Through most of our marriage, I was self-centered. It was about my needs and what I wanted. There was no physical affair, but I still felt like I had committed adultery. Heather was not my priority.I now see that I need to put my wife first (after God). And I've struggled with forgiving myself for neglecting my wife all those years. God's Word tells me that He forgives me. So, why should my standard be higher than His? I need to accept the things that I will be unable to change, learn to surrender to God and focus on what's left — not what's lost.
Joseph and Heather have been married for 19 years. Joseph teaches science at a community college. Heather is a freelance writer.

Putting it into perspective
Forgiveness is the greatest attribute that you can cultivate in your character because it's one of the greatest attributes of God. When you forgive, you emulate the very character of God. No one demonstrated true forgiveness more beautifully than Jesus Christ. After being beaten, spit upon, unjustly accused and nailed to a cross, He said, "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Throughout the Bible we read of men and women who chose to forgive. Stephen, an early Christian, asked God to forgive his murderers of their sin even as he was being stoned to death. That kind of action doesn't come from man — it's supernatural and comes from God.
Adapted from From Anger to Intimacy: How forgiveness can transform your marriage by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham.

This article appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2012. ThrivingFamily.com.

Selasa, 21 Oktober 2014

Unwavering Perseverance

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Unwavering Perseverance
(En Español)
If we are to succeed spiritually, among all the other necessary virtues we especially will need perseverance. We will need to learn not only how to fight but how to keep going in the fight until God brings the breakthrough. I am not talking about becoming carnal in our warfare or fleshly in our aggression. I am speaking about a combination of discernment, authority and unwavering faith that needs to live within us, even while other virtues and gifts develop.
It is not enough, you see, to know about God's Kingdom -- we are called to possess it. Yes, when we are born again, we are born into God's Kingdom. But the reality of being born of the Spirit means that a whole new realm of possibilities, challenges and obstacles now unfolds before us. In other words, we must overcome many things in order to function as sons and daughters of God. The idea that the only relationship we have with Heaven is the one we experience at death is simply contrary to the Word of God.
When Jesus came, He proclaimed, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). At hand means that God's Kingdom is close enough to touch from where we are. Yet it must be fought for aggressively and attained with perseverance. "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence," Jesus taught, "and violent men take it by force" (Matt. 11:12).
The violence of taking the Kingdom by force is not physical violence but rather focused earnestness, a deeply passionate pursuit of God that enables Christ's followers never to give up regardless of the conflicts and trials they face. John said he was a "partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus" (Rev. 1:9). If we want God's Kingdom, we will face tribulation, and we will need perseverance. We must persist until the substance of God's Kingdom is not merely a doctrine but a functional reality in our lives.
True disciples "bear fruit with perseverance" (Luke 8:15). The human spirit is saved by faith in Christ's sacrifice. The human soul -- our mind, will and emotions -- is saved by faith and endurance (Luke 21:19). This does not mean that our salvation is the result of works; it means our perseverance is rooted in our salvation as new creatures in Christ.
Even so, there is a war to be won! We must take the Kingdom by force, fighting for our souls and persevering on behalf of families, cities and nations.
Unyielding Perseverance
The book of Revelation mentions the word perseverance seven times for good reason. Over and over we see those who persevered and overcame. It is one thing to have vision and another to have godly motives, but neither will carry us to our objectives by itself. We must also persevere.

Consider this word persevere. Its meaning is rooted in the word severe. It is the exact opposite of lethargy.
Over the last forty-five years, there were a number of times when I was stretched in ways that were severe or extreme. I always came out of the experience stronger and more Christlike, yet it was definitely not the way I would have chosen for myself. You see, it is through faith and endurance that we inherit the promises of God (Heb. 10:36). James tells us that "the testing of [our] faith develops perseverance" and that "perseverance must finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything" (James 1:2-4, NIV).
In other words, we don't just go one mile but two; we contend for the faith; we wrestle against principalities and powers (Matt 5:41; Jude 1:3; Eph. 6:12). We are not wimps; we do not give up. We are soldiers who endure hardship. Even if we are knocked down, defeat is not final; we rise to fight another day (Mic. 7:7-8). Surrender is not an option!
Our success comes from our faith in God; our perseverance is not based on our strength but is appropriated from grace drawn from our union with Christ. We come to Him when we are weary and heavy-laden; in Him we find rest so we can continue our quest. But underlying all our other virtues, we need to possess an inherent perseverance of spirit, for "the one who endures to the end, he will be saved" (Matt.24:13).
Has lethargy quietly taken your energy captive? Then by the grace of God, let the Holy Spirit awaken within you today the perseverance of Christ. Indeed, "may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement" (Rom. 15:5) empower you to be the man or woman of God you were born to become.
No Time to Quit
On a more practical level, let me briefly say, watch your health. Avoid excessive amounts of heavy foods or sugar and denatured grains, which can cloud your mind and make you sluggish. Get seven to eight hours sleep, use natural foods and develop an exercise regime to tone and condition your physiological makeup. Let's not give ourselves any physical reasons to fail spiritually.

Multitudes will sit in their easy chairs and read about God's promises, but you and I are called not only to know God's promises but to possess them and walk them out. You see, the real question is not "Are you saved?" but "Are you overcoming?" Whatever the scope of warfare you face -- whether it is deeply personal or a fight for your nation to be turned -- the enemy's specific goal is to get you to give up. With all my heart, I believe it is not too late for my country of America and many other nations to turn away from judgment and move toward spiritual awakenings. It is near, dear friend.
Endurance. Perseverance. Steadfastness. These are the qualities that breed character, that transform the doctrine of Christlikeness into a way of life. Again, as James 1:4 urges, "Let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect." The key to perfection, to a life "lacking in nothing," is perseverance.
With the Holy Spirit's help, it is time to get our grit back. It is time to fight.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
The preceding excerpt is adapted from the book This Day We Fight by Pastor Frangipane. This book with associated audio resources are currently on sale at www.arrowbookstore.com.

On Earth as It Is in Heaven!

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
On Earth as It Is in Heaven!
(En Español)

We recite it in private and pray it in unison; we have even sung it in reverence on select Sunday mornings. It's been a familiar prayer at somber cultural events. Yet I wonder if we really grasp what was in Jesus' heart when He taught His disciples the Lord's Prayer.
The disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). In response, the Lord gave them a prayer, not just to help them cope but something that was militant in nature. This was more than a prayer -- it was a proclamation.
For centuries the holy realities of the Lord's Prayer have been obscured by traditions of religious unbelief, as though ritualistic repetition of this prayer would accumulate a special blessing in the afterlife. The deception was that all Jesus was speaking of existed off in eternity, as though this prayer was disbarred from affecting conditions on earth now. In recent years, however, truth is again filling the words of this heavenly anthem, so that "Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done" is freighted with meaning and action.
The words of this prayer are best understood as emphatic statements. They ought to be punctuated with exclamation marks. This is Heaven's "Pledge of Allegiance." At its core, the Lord's Prayer is a faith-decree that God's will, through our living union with Christ, should be accomplished today on earth. Where is the room for compromise in those words? Jesus is saying that, with miraculous power, abounding joy and unwavering mercy, God's will must be fulfilled “on earth as it is in Heaven!"
We call this the Lord's Prayer, yet more appropriately, it might be called the Disciple's Prayer or the Kingdom Prayer, for it is something Jesus gave to ignite fire in the hearts of His followers. Indeed, this prayer is revolutionary.
We have been too polite with God. I do not mean we should be disrespectful or irreverent; I am saying the Lord's Prayer is not a weak, pleading prayer. Yes, there is a time for pleading with God, but this is a prophetic prayer. There is not a please anywhere in it.
We already know it is the "Father's good pleasure" to give us His kingdom (Luke 12:32 NKJV). Jesus is not instructing us to beg for a blessing or two; He is commanding us to call for God's kingdom to rule on earth: in war zones, in places of poverty or plagues or famine, and especially in our very lives and circumstances.

This is a prayer of authority. The Son of God wants us to pray like we were created to bring Heaven to earth. Our prayer simply aligns us with what is already God's great pleasure to give us.

Of course, it is vital we embrace repentance for our sins and the sins of our forefathers. But this is the prayer of those fully committed to the vision of God! It embodies the expanse of what Jesus came to establish. Although men and women are both called to proclaim the words of this decree, the tone of this prayer is decidedly masculine. These are fighting words.
Remember, this form of prayer is not my idea; it's Christ's. He told faltering, fumbling, often sinful disciples to pray like they were mature, victorious warriors. He didn't say this prayer should be prayed only when they had become perfect. No. He was saying this is how we should pray right now, even while we are imperfect. Yes, we humble ourselves; yes, we confess our sins. Yet we must learn to pray with unsheathed spiritual authority, with heroic faith, and with the fire of divine possibilities burning in our souls.
Beloved, a time is coming when God's people will have reached the depth of their repentance. Knees bent and worn from the weight of prolonged kneeling will slowly creak upward. Heads will lift and then hands. Like the rumbling of a volcano no longer dormant, the cry “Thy kingdom come” will begin to gather and then rise from within the deep spirit of the redeemed.
Yes, even now, the armies of God in Heaven are beginning to unite with the armies of God on earth. Lightening-like power is beginning to fill the backbone of the redeemed. Can you feel it? From every nation, a holy remnant shall stand upright before the Most High. In their mouths will be the words taught them by the Son of God Himself: "Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!"

Are You Addicted To Busy?

Are You Addicted To Busy?

Busy Father Preparing His Daughter's BreakfastBy Brady Boyd
Five years into my marriage, my wife met me at the door with her bags packed.
I should have seen it coming. I had packed my life with jobs and positions and commitments out of my deep-seated need to be needed. I was too busy, and the gentle, calm woman I’d married five years prior had decided she would rather be single than be married and do life all alone.
“Pam,” I said, my voice low and my words slow, “if you will stay here tonight—if you will agree not to leave tonight—I will walk in tomorrow and resign.” The red rims around her eyes told me she’d been crying all afternoon. “No, you won’t,” she challenged. “You won’t.” I asked for 24 hours, to prove that I’d make good on my plan. And by that time the following day, I had resigned every last role.
That was one of the first times I realized I have a problem: I’m addicted to being busy.
And it’s not just me. Every problem I see, in every person I know, ultimately is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life. Every problem. And as a pastor, I see a lot of problems.
We think if we can keep going, keep busy, keep plowing ahead, our conscience won’t have time to catch us because—ha, ha!—we’ll already be long gone. And the reality is this approach actually works. But only for a time. “Life is like the breath,” writes Brother David Steindl-Rast. “We must be able to live in an easy rhythm between give and take. If we cannot learn to live and breathe in this rhythm, we will place ourselves in grave danger.” Maybe even the literal grave.
Because it’s easy for me to chase after the tempting buzz of busy living, I’ve learned to recognize the signs that my addiction has kicked in again. If you lean toward over-scheduled and under-rested, consider these danger signs of a busyness addiction:
You Feel Like You’re in Your Glory When You’re Busiest.
This really should be the first clue that something is amiss. You see, I like how success feels. I don’t want to unplug. I don’t want to relax. The last thing I crave is rest. I’m a recovering speed-and-wild-success junkie who never wants to come down, and to allow any semblance of white space is to cause the undesirable effects of withdrawal.
You’re More Fascinated With Gadgets Than With God.
I got to work a few days ago and realized I’d left my phone at home. The all-out search that proved futile and the ensuing overwhelming angst I experienced were significant. I think I was more distraught than if I’d misplaced one of my children. How am I going to get through this day without my phone? I thought.
A different kind of call was coming in, even as I searched for the device. It was a call from God: “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” Of course I didn’t pick up.
God tried again: “Lay your burdens down, child. Walk with me, and your walk will be burden-free.” To which I didn’t respond. Again.
God stays the course: “I want you to be fascinated not with trinkets, but with me.” Still, no response.
Ever-patient, ever-persistent, God went for it a fourth time: “Slow down. Look up. Linger here with me.”
It was then I thought I heard something. Wait. Was that the voice of God?
But then, I hear a subtle ding from my phone, which had been in my laptop bag the entire time. The ding was alerting me to a text message that had just arrived. My thumb couldn’t help itself—it was itching to swipe. As I reached for my phone, all attention focused on that new text, I simultaneously scored one for the enemy of my soul.
Technology is not a bad thing in itself, but when we’re more tuned into our iPhone alerts than to our Creator, it’s a problem.
Your Favorite Compliment Has Become, “Wow. You’re Always so Busy.”
Behind the” I’m-so-busy-it-would-blow-your-mind” conversations is the motivation for all my busyness. I have a theory on this, which is that busyness is our means to impress. If I’m busy, then I’m important, and if I’m important, then you’ll be impressed. That’s the reason I spend so much time being busy: to impress you, so perhaps I’ll feel like I matter. Impression management becomes a full-time job, and it’s exhausting.
You Don’t Have Time for the Ones You Love.
These days, years after that day of packed bags at the door, I don’t let things get that far. But still there are times when I can see in my wife’s weary gaze that I’ve been pushing and driving too hard. It’s the worst warning sign of all, I think, the one that says, “You’re hurting the ones you most love.”
For some people, it takes a world-rocking tragedy or the loss of everything they hold dear in order to finally learn how to slow down, to tend to their souls, to rest—it takes some sort of death. I hope that won’t be true for you. I’m determined it won’t be true for me. I’m resolving instead to go down a different path, a path paved with rest and peace.
Consider this: God is not merely a peaceful person; God, in fact, is peace. When you and I sit in God’s presence, we’re sitting in the presence of peace. And when we sit there—actually stay there, quiet, still—we come away breathing differently. We come away with steadied souls. From there, astoundingly, we can become people of peace. We can become more like God.
This is why God’s invitation is so profound, the invitation to come to Him to find our rest: He can actually deliver on what He promises, something the world never will be able to do.
I want this type of restfulness. I want to say yes to this.
We slow down—to rest, to contemplate, to lollygag with God—because slow can pay serious dividends, for our bodies, for our minds, for our souls.
Copyright © 2014 by Brady Boyd. Used by permission.

Brady Boyd
Brady Boyd is the Senior Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is married to his college sweetheart, Pam and is the dad to great kids named Abram and Callie. He has written four books, Addicted to Busy, Fear No Evil, Sons & Daughters, and Let Her Lead. He’s also really serious about caring for the people of Colorado Springs by opening numerous Dream Centers.
He has a degree in Journalism from Louisiana Tech, has been a radio announcer for professional baseball and basketball teams, and was the Sports Editor for his college newspaper. Before coming to New Life in 2007, he served Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas for almost seven years.
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Jumat, 17 Oktober 2014



Membangun pernikahan yang telah runtuh, ibarat membangun tembok Yerusalem yang telah runtuh. Kita tahu tembok Yerusalem runtuh akibat pertempuran, akibat serangan dari bangsa-bangsa lain yang menyerang Yerusalem. Pernikahan pun adakalanya mengalami badai, mengalami serangan, dan akhirnya menderita kerugian dan runtuh berantakan. Apa yang harus dilakukan oleh suami istri yang mengalami badai atau serangan untuk membangun kembali pernikahan mereka? Kita akan belajar dari hamba Tuhan yang bernama Nehemia. Kita akan belajar apa saja yang dilakukannya untuk membangun tembok itu.

Penyebab keruntuhan:
- Faktor internal, seperti konflik berkepanjangan, merenggangnya komunikasi, hilangnya keintiman, dan melebarnya perbedaan. Ingat: Ibarat pohon, relasi pernikahan memerlukan siraman dan perhatian!

- Faktor eksternal, yakni pengkhianatan. Tidak ada badai yang lebih dahsyat daripada pengkhianatan! Pengkhianatan meruntuhkan:

a. Kepercayaan
Kita tidak lagi percaya bahwa dia setia kepada kita, kita tidak lagi percaya pada perkataannya karena ternyata dia telah berbohong kepada kita. Dan, kita bersikap was-was dan tidak tenteram sehingga sejak momen itu, hidup kita tidak lagi damai. Jangan sampai ini terulang lagi, apakah dia pergi ke tempat seperti yang dia katakan, apakah dia pergi dengan orang yang seperti dia katakan.

b. Respek
Seolah-olah di mata kita dia begitu rendah karena perbuatan zina memang perbuatan dosa, perbuatan yang rendah. Jadi, reaksi kita kepada dia itu merendahkan dia, seolah-olah dia tidak ada lagi nilainya. Dan, itu menimbulkan sikap menghina.

c. Cinta
Pada dasarnya, cinta itu memang masih bisa bertahan, tetapi akan cukup termakan habis. Dan, yang akan muncul akibat pengkhianatan bukanlah cinta, tetapi benci. Kebencian yang sangat dalam sekali, kebencian ini memang keluar dari kemarahan dan keinginan untuk membalas karena disakiti.

Reruntuhan dalam pernikahan meliputi:
- merasa muak dekat dengan pasangan,
- kesedihan yang tak habis-habisnya,
- ketakutan yang terus menghantui kalau-kalau pengkhianatan terulang kembali,
- dan kekecewaan yang dalam terhadap pasangannya yang tega melukai hati kita.

Mengapa Mungkin Membangun dari Reruntuhan?

1. Jika Allah sanggup membangkitkan Kristus dari kematian, Ia pasti sanggup membangkitkan kasih, respek, dan kepercayaan dalam relasi yang telah mati.
2. Kasih menyatu (menuju pada kedekatan), artinya kalau kita mencintai, kita ingin mendekati orang yang kita cintai dan bersatu dengan dia.
3. Kasih bertahan (sukar memudar), artinya meskipun kasih itu dihantam dan dipukul, tetapi kasih cenderung bertahan.
4. Kasih melawan (melindungi relasi kasih), artinya kasih itu mau melindungi orang yang kita kasihi dan kita mau melindungi relasi kasih ini supaya jangan sampai akhirnya punah.
5. Kasih dinamis (dapat bertumbuh kembali), artinya dapat bertunas kembali, kasih itu bukannya sekali mati, maka selama-lamanya mati. Meskipun sudah susut sampai seperti itu, tetapi perlahan-lahan bisa bertumbuh kembali.

Awal dari Membangun dari Reruntuhan ini adalah:
a. Bertahan dalam ketakutan! Takut sekali rumah tangga ini hancur, takut sekali dia mengulangi lagi, takut sekali dia berbohong, dan sebagainya. Dan, sikap yang dimunculkan meliputi:
- Menghindar: Menjalin hubungan seminimal mungkin guna memberi waktu bagi luka untuk sembuh.
- Berlindung dalam teritori: Membatasi ruang kebersamaan, masing-masing melakukan kewajiban dan aktivitas sendiri-sendiri.

b. Menyangkal diri!
- Memerlukan upaya keras dan risiko: ingin percaya, tetapi takut; ingin respek kembali, tetapi masih ingin menghina; ingin mengasihi, tetapi tetap memiliki kebencian.
- Biasanya berangkat dari kegelisahan: tidak menyukai status quo, harus melakukan sesuatu!

Belajar dari Nehemia untuk membangun dari reruntuhan:

1. Menghampiri Tuhan dan berkomitmen untuk menjalani proses ini dengan cara Tuhan, caranya:
- Mengakui dosa kepada pasangan (Nehemia 1:6-7).
- Mengklaim janji penyertaan Tuhan setiap hari (Nehemia 1:8-9).
- Menyusun rancangan pemulihan yang realistis (Nehemia 2:7-9), kita meminta bantuan orang untuk dapat menolong kita melewati ini, kita mau ke hamba Tuhan ini, kita mau mendapatkan pertolongan dari konselor ini, kita akan berbuat ini dan itu.

2. Mengevaluasi kerusakan:
- Melihat dan mengakui semua kerusakan (Nehemia 2:13-15).
- Memotivasi satu sama lain untuk mengarahkan mata pada pembangunan, bukan pembalasan (Nehemia 2:17-18).
- Semua pihak terlibat dalam pembangunan, baik istri maupun suami (Nehemia 3:1-32).

3. Bersiaga terhadap serangan berikutnya:
- Keruntuhan bersifat susul-menyusul, problem selanjutnya yang tengah menanti (Nehemia 4:1-15). Awalnya, seolah-olah problemnya hanya satu, yaitu pengkhianatan, tetapi tiba-tiba menjadi banyak.
- Iblis tidak senang dan akan terus menyerang: menciptakan masalah baru atau membakar masalah lama.
- Kita harus saling melindungi, bukan membuka peluang (Nehemia 4:16-23).

4. Membersihkan sampai ke akarnya:
- Dibalik satu masalah, terkandung masalah lain (Nehemia 5:1-3). Kadang-kadang, kita berpikir kita telah berhasil mengatasi masalah dari pihak luar, tetapi masalah dari pihak dalam ini terus-menerus muncul.
- Jangan menoleransi dosa sekecil apa pun.
- Kembalikanlah hak dan fungsi masing-masing (Nehemia 5:9-12) sehingga pasangan kita bisa menempati fungsi yang sebenarnya sebagai suami atau istri.

5. Menjalani hidup baru:
- Menetapkan aturan yang jelas (Nehemia 7:1-3).
- Merayakan hidup baru: memulai kebiasaan dan aktivitas yang merekatkan relasi.
- Mendasarkan hidup pada firman Tuhan (Nehemia 8:1-3).

Diambil dan disunting dari:
Nama situs: TELAGA
Alamat URL: http://telaga.org/audio/membangun_dari_reruntuhan_1
Judul transkrip: Membangun Dari Reruntuhan 1 (T228A)
Penulis: Pdt. Dr. Paul Gunadi
Tanggal akses: 7 Juli 2014



Rasa sakit akibat perpisahan dan perceraian dapat menjadi sesuatu yang memberatkan bagi orang-orang yang ditinggalkan untuk menyatukan kembali puing-puing keluarga yang berantakan. Malangnya, anak-anak saya juga masih kecil ketika ayah mereka pergi dari rumah, dan mereka harus bergumul dengan perasaan tertolak dan tertinggal.

Beberapa bulan pertama begitu mengerikan. Menenangkan anak-anak saya itu sangat melelahkan dan semakin menambah kesedihan hati saya. Saya memegangi putri saya yang berusia 3 tahun, Emelian, dan putra saya yang berusia 2 tahun, Elijah, selama berjam-jam ketika mereka menangis.

Elijah sangat sedih karena ketidakhadiran ayahnya, tetapi ia tidak mampu mengekspresikan perasaannya secara verbal. Jadi, di tengah malam, ia terbangun dan berteriak. Pada waktu yang lain, Elijah mondar-mandir di kamar tidur saya sambil menangis, tidak tahu apa yang harus ia lakukan, dan akhirnya hanya rebah di atas lantai karena lelah. Beberapa menit selanjutnya, dengan putus asa, ia bangun untuk memulai pola itu lagi.

Terkadang, saya mendekapnya seperti pelukan beruang besar. Pada waktu yang lain, saya duduk di lantai dan mengayun-ayunkannya, dan air mata saya yang berlinang membasahi wajah saya. "Ibu ada di sini," kata saya. "Ibu menjagamu. Ibu mengasihimu. Berhentilah menangis, Nak. Elijah, berhentilah. Kamu baik-baik saja. Kamu aman. Ibu ada di sini."

Untuk menenangkannya, saya mulai bernyanyi untuk putra saya. "Yesus sayang padaku, Alkitab mengajarku." Akhirnya, saya berseru kepada Tuhan, sambil memohon kepada-Nya untuk menghibur jiwa Elijah dengan kedamaian yang hanya dapat diberikan oleh Yesus.

Amsal 31:8 memberi tahu kita, "Bukalah mulutmu untuk orang yang bisu, untuk hak semua orang yang merana." Karena itu, saya menengahi anak-anak saya yang hatinya remuk dan meminta Tuhan untuk melindungi mereka dari dosa-dosa ayah mereka.

Isakan Elijah berlangsung selama beberapa malam. Saya terus-menerus memeluknya, mengayun-ayunkannya, menyanyikan lagu himne, dan berdoa sampai ia tertidur. Kesedihan yang mendalam mulai berkurang. Akhirnya, ia tidur dengan nyenyak sepanjang malam.

Saya mendapatkan beberapa pelajaran berharga tentang Allah melalui masa-masa yang sulit itu. Saya menyadari bahwa Allah adalah:

- Penghibur saya. Pada awal perjalanan Elijah yang menyakitkan, saya mengabaikan untuk meminta pertolongan Yesus. Saya terperangkap dalam usaha untuk menemukan apa yang salah dan memperbaiki segala sesuatu dengan kekuatan saya sendiri sehingga saya memikul beban yang lebih besar daripada yang seharusnya saya tanggung.

Kristus berkata, "Marilah kepada-Ku, semua yang letih lesu dan berbeban berat, Aku akan memberi kelegaan kepadamu. Pikullah kuk yang Kupasang dan belajarlah pada-Ku, karena Aku lemah lembut dan rendah hati dan jiwamu akan mendapat ketenangan. Sebab kuk yang Kupasang itu enak dan beban-Kupun ringan." (Matius 11:28-30)

Allah sangat peduli dan berbagi rasa dengan penderitaan saya. Allah "menilik sengsaraku, telah memperhatikan kesesakan jiwaku" (Mazmur 31:7). Ketika saya menceritakan penderitaan kepedihan hati putra saya, Bapa surgawi saya merasakan penderitaan saya. Saya harus ingat untuk merangkak ke pangkuan Bapa saya ketika saya merasa sendirian dan tidak berdaya. Ia rindu mengasihi dan menghibur saya di tengah-tengah kesesakan saya.

- Pengantara saya. Saya mengingat gambaran jelas di pikiran saya bahwa Allah memerhatikan saya sedang berusaha menolong putra kecil saya tanpa meminta kekuatan dan bimbingan dari-Nya. Roma 8:26-27 berkata, "Demikian juga Roh membantu kita dalam kelemahan kita; sebab kita tidak tahu, bagaimana sebenarnya harus berdoa; tetapi Roh sendiri berdoa untuk kita kepada Allah dengan keluhan-keluhan yang tidak terucapkan. Dan Allah yang menyelidiki hati nurani, mengetahui maksud Roh itu, yaitu bahwa Ia, sesuai dengan kehendak Allah, berdoa untuk orang-orang kudus."

- Segala-galanya bagi saya. Ketika saya memanggil Yesus, Ia mendampingi saya untuk merawat Elijah. Saya tidak dapat melanjutkannya tanpa Dia. Saya belajar bahwa Allah bukan hanya Bapa saya, tetapi Ia juga Suami saya dan Ayah bagi anak-anak saya. Ia menunjukkan kepada saya bahwa saya sama sekali bukan seorang ibu tunggal; saya tidak sendirian. Tuhan selalu berjalan di setiap langkah bersama saya melalui lembah-lembah yang dalam dan tempat-tempat yang sunyi.

Anak-anak menderita dalam banyak hal ketika seorang ibu atau ayah menghilang dari rumah. Dengan tiba-tiba dan dengan cara yang salah, mereka kehilangan kasih sayang secara fisik dan kepentingan keamanan secara emosi bagi perkembangan mereka. Para ibu dan ayah tunggal harus mewaspadai beban yang dipikul anak-anak sebagai akibat dari kehilangan atau pengabaian orang tua.

Apabila kita terlalu tenggelam dalam kesendirian dan luka-luka kita sendiri, kita gagal melihat penderitaan mereka. Akibat-akibat yang muncul bisa semakin parah jika kita tidak menolong anak-anak kita untuk menyerahkan beban mereka kepada Tuhan. Jadi, kita harus melakukan hal-hal berikut ini.

1. Memenuhi kebutuhan mereka. Kita harus tinggal di dalam Kristus setiap hari supaya Ia dapat mengasihi dan merawat mereka melalui kita. Ketika kita merawat anak-anak kita, kita juga melayani hati Allah.

2. Mengajar mereka. Kita harus menunjukkan dan mengajarkan kepada anak-anak kita bagaimana memercayakan diri kepada Tuhan dan berdoa supaya mereka menaruh beban mereka di bawah kaki Yesus, yang berkata, "Aku tidak akan meninggalkan kamu sebagai yatim piatu. Aku datang kembali kepadamu" (Yohanes 14:18).

Dalam jangka waktu ini, saya mengajarkan kepada anak-anak saya tentang janji Allah yang spesial, dan hal itu menjadi penghiburan yang luar biasa bagi mereka. Mereka tahu Ia adalah Ayah mereka yang mendengarkan dan selalu ada untuk diajak bicara.

3. Biarkanlah Allah bertindak. Dengan setia, Ia akan menyembuhkan luka-luka Anda dan memperbarui pengharapan kita jika kita memercayai-Nya untuk memenuhi kebutuhan-kebutuhan kita yang terdalam. Bersama Dia, kepedihan hati berubah menjadi berkat. Dan, luka-luka keluarga disembuhkan melalui Yesus Kristus. (t/S. Setyawati)

Diterjemahkan dari:
Nama situs: Focus On the Family
Alamat URL: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/single_parents/helping-children-heal-after-divorce/letting-god-heal-broken-hearts.aspx
Judul asli artikel: Letting God Heal Broken Hearts
Penulis: Melodie Claire Miller
Tanggal akses: 3 Juli 2014

Your Children Will Return

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

This message was first written about twenty years ago by Pastor Frangipane's oldest daughter, Joy, when she was nineteen.
Your Children Will Return
by Joy Marion
(En Español)

No one can tell me that fathers and daughters can't have close relationships or even become best friends. People are almost envious of the love my dad and I share. The only time we argue is about who loves who the most. But our relationship was not always this warm. There was a time when I felt I had lost my ability to love my father. I was a teenage Christian in a public high school. My Christian background made me different. I was new, craving acceptance. My father's rules seemed to be the source of my rejections.
Fueled by my insecurities, in my eyes my dad became the root of my problems. While I set an adequate standard and struggled to live by it, he was strict. I was angry because he refused to back down from the standard he knew was right. He refused to appeal to my ignorance in order to keep my acceptance.
Things were going from bad to worse during those years. We hit bottom the day I looked him square in the eyes and told him that I hated him. They were harsh words, but it was a hard time. I didn't really hate him. I hated me. I felt I wasn't bad enough to be accepted by my friends and not good enough to be accepted at home. When these feelings take over your life, you search for something -- anything -- to blame. I chose my father. He carried the blunt of my pain. He even became my enemy.
In my heart I knew I didn't hate him. I was angry and confused. I felt he wasn't concerned with how I felt. It seemed he had made no room for compromise with my situation. He risked losing my love to save my soul.
It was a hard time for us both. He suffered the pain of rejection as I did. He suffered the hurt and the loss, but from a different angle. His fear of the Lord withstood his fear of pain. He loved me, but he had a higher obligation than my favor and my approval. I'm sure at times he wondered if he was doing the right thing. There must have been times when he felt like his prayers were hitting the ceiling and bouncing back at his feet.
At times I'm sure he considered lowering his standards. It would have made things so much easier than wrestling with the power of an independent, strong-willed child. These considerations may have come, but he never gave in to them. He stood firm and prayed harder.
The prayers of a righteous man availeth much. Many times he cried out to the Lord in anguish and in frustration: "What have I done wrong?" My father has a wonderful ministry to God in prayer. I think I had something to do with the character God worked in him during those days. Before he ever prayed for cities and nations, he was on his face praying for me.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." That verse was a promise that he would hold on to. "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" was another promise he stood upon. He had given me to the Lord, set a godly standard and held God to His word.
At the same time, I was wrestling with my salvation. My desire to be accepted by my non-Christian friends at school warred against my desire to be with the Lord. James speaks of a double-minded person being unstable in all of their ways. I was completely unstable. I walked on a line between Heaven and hell. I wanted the best of both worlds and was satisfied in neither.
Although I had been brought up in the church, the world had taken its toll on me. My eyes had been blinded to the sin in my own life, further separating me from God and parents. It was so hard for me to see my way out.
When a child is brought up in a Christian home, regardless of what may happen, there is a seed that has been planted in their heart that continues to grow. It's an amazing seed because it can grow in the dark without water; it can even bloom in adversity. The reason we can never outrun God is because He is that seed growing within us. Once you have tasted the presence of the Lord, nothing satisfies you like He can. Sometimes those who seem to be running the hardest from God are doing so because He is so close to them.
On the outside my witness was weak, and I was in bondage to my unsaved friends. But inside, my heart cried for oneness with the Lord. I hated my double-mindedness as much as my father did. My whole life I wanted strong Christian friends to save the world with me. I wanted the support -- I just never had it. I did the best I could, but I lost my sensitivity to sin, and the more I was with non-Christian people, the more deceived I became.
Paul warns, "Do not be deceived. What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousnes?" I didn't realize the impact my unsaved friends had on me. The more I was with them the more I conformed to them. When I look back, I know, unless my parents had been praying for me, I would have been on my way to hell.
Sin has a way of moving in and taking control. But love is as strong as death and many waters cannot quench love; love never fails. And prayer is the highest power through which love is released. I had to relearn how to love. My love had become completely self-centered and conditional. I had failed to realize that my father and my Lord loved me unconditionally. I had only to try. I had only to bridge the communication gap to understand that God had loved me before I was even aware of His standards. And my dad loved me for me alone, not for something I had to become.
My relationship with my father is wonderful, and that's the truth. God has proven faithful in the working of both our lives. The Lord has bridged the gap and filled it with love. It took me leaving my environment and being planted with Christian people who faithfully loved me. It also took my will to change, but it did happen.
Listen, please don't give up on your teenagers. Don't sacrifice God's standards of righteousness to appeal to their carnal nature. They can't respect you for it and God won't honor it. Your children were not consecrated to Satan; they were dedicated to the Lord. He has had His hand on them and He will not forget them. He has heard your prayers and He is faithful to your cries. He is God.
Prayer works. I'm living proof of it. I look back now and see how many times nothing but the miraculous dedication of loving parents took me out of hopeless situations. The Lord will not forsake His children. He will not turn His back on them. We are never too far from His reach. Believe the promises of the Lord. He is not a liar. He honors a steadfast heart. Hold on. Your children will come back to the Lord.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding excerpt is adapted from the book This Day We Fight by Pastor Frangipane. This book with associated audio resources are currently on sale at www.arrowbookstore.com.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Resolving Disputes Over Family Entertainment

Resolving Disputes Over Family Entertainment

"John" is a dad who wanted me to referee the battle that erupted when he demanded that his 15-year-old daughter stop watching a Disney Channel program that made him uncomfortable — even though he didn't know much about it.
"I just don't like the boy-girl thing" on that show, he said.
His daughter burst into tears and his wife took the daughter's side. I was supposed to break the tie between the spouses.
What do you think? Was John right in asking his daughter to turn the program off? Was his wife overreacting?

Teaching Discernment to Our Kids

My friend John wanted me to say, "You were right in having your daughter turn off the TV," but I didn't see it that way. In fact, a much bigger problem was developing in his home, and I told him so.
He risked alienating his daughter by barking out orders, without showing fatherly affection and without communicating how his deep love for Christ was his underlying motivation. In fact, I'm not really certain his love for the Lord was his main motivation. I think it was more along the lines of, "I don't want my daughter being promiscuous, and this television show certainly doesn't support purity."
As it turned out, the program that concerned John was rather innocuous. It wasn't perfect, but it didn't justify his knee-jerk reaction. I advised him to record a few episodes and watch with his daughter, explaining any concerns he might have.
Most of all, though, John needed to make sure his daughter knew how much he valued her. He needed to explain that having media rules in their home was a natural expression of that love. He also needed to admit that although the driving force behind his actions may have been noble, his execution was lacking. That led to one more need: to apologize.
John's overreaction to his daughter's television viewing is a reminder that even though training our children to be savvy about entertainment is an important life skill, any attempt to achieve that harshly with unexplained, stern boundaries is counterproductive.
When done right, teaching discernment helps our kids make better choices for a lifetime, not just while they live under our roof. That's important because new entertainment arrives daily, and delivery gizmos and gadgets change almost as rapidly. Yet no matter what tops the charts or what systems are used to enjoy it, John's situation shows that even the best rules must be enforced with love.
Whether or not you've ever had a similar run-in with your son or daughter, consider using the record-watch-and-discuss method I suggested to John. In other words, enter your child's entertainment world. Become familiar with his or her favorites and those of his or her friends, and why these are high on the list. There's no need to treat your child's media consumption as some secret place with a large "No Parents Allowed" sign above the entrance. Give yourself permission to enter — gently and lovingly.

Tips for Parents

Other than entering your child's media world, how can you help him or her plot a course through today's entertainment and technological landmines — without wrecking your relationship? Using love as a guide, I'll use the following articles to suggest several practical steps you can take.

Jumat, 10 Oktober 2014

Building a Strong Family


Building a Strong Family

How do you build a strong family? By paying attention not only to individual family members but to the family as a group. This is rarely done in the American home. But your success as a parent may depend upon it.
A cooperative and interdependent family will not usually come into being if a parent centers most of his or her attention on individual kids when part or all of the family is together. A collection of people being herded in the same direction will not prosper and grow into the powerful family it could be.
You may get surprising results if you apply the following professional group work approach to your family life. It often yields parents and children who help one another and look out for one another throughout the rest of life. This kind of family enables individual members to function and grow far stronger than in the usual home setting.

Leading Your Family as a Group

Leading the family as a group is completely different from merely raising kids one-by-one, ignoring the family as a unit.
Think of the coach of a football team. He must focus on how the various members of the team relate to one another, work together, carry out the plays, etc. Whereas the quarterback coach is concerned with very different things: an individual's performance and morale.
Parents must be both kinds of coaches. What usually happens is that they just operate like the quarterback coaches, helping one individual at a time and leaving out teaching their families to work together and help one another.
Think of an orchestra conductor who must be concerned that each musician is playing his or her part and that the whole orchestra is in harmony. The flute instructor, on the other hand, is focused on the individual. Parents must be both the conductor and the instructor — the conductor when the family is together (which happens too rarely) and an instructor with individual children.
Therefore, the successful parent has the family in mind, talks to the family as a whole, analyzes how the family is developing and what it needs to do together to go further, gives the family work to do, and helps with a host of other family-centered concerns.
Suppose a child needs to do better in school. Let's look at three different ways of handling the situation.
In the usual approach, a parent talks to the child who needs to do better. All the other children in the family probably know that their brother or sister is doing poorly, but they are not brought into the process. Often the reason is to prevent embarrassment. But the other kids know — and they might not be acting kind to their sibling behind the parents' backs.
In this approach, almost all communication occurs between the parent(s) and the child, with occasional parental "side comments" to other children. This approach rarely protects the poor student from sibling cruelty. What it does is prevent the other children from offering help and support to their struggling brother or sister. Many other things might be being hindered as well, such as getting to the root of the problem. The other children might know some reasons for their brother's poor academic performance, such as teasing he's getting at school.
A second approach has the parent carrying on a helpful discussion with the child while the other kids are listening. This might seem like an approach that involves the family, but really it does not. This method asks for no true commitment from the other family members to help rather than hinder the troubled brother or sister.
A third approach, the empowering model of family leadership, has many advantages you might not have considered. In this model the parent focuses on the family as the entity he or she is helping. The reason is that the family as a whole can do the best job of helping a member of the family overcome a problem. (I know. We tried this when one of our older daughters was doing poorly in school.)
In the empowerment model, the parent talks to the family as a whole. Everyone agrees together to help the brother or sister who is doing poorly. Then the parent focuses on helping the family do all the things necessary. Children and parents working together can pool their ideas and efforts. The family decides how each family member can help, what actions and attitudes will be truly helpful, what consequences should follow if any family member knowingly does something harmful to the process, which family members should spend extra time with the person, and a host of other things that would not occur in either of the first two approaches.
Besides helping the troubled family member, this approach builds the family up and causes all its members to grow. Everyone makes decisions together, works together to accomplish the family purpose and overcomes barriers that block progress. Both the individuals and the family grow and become stronger.
This empowering model of family leadership expects a lot of a family and is very affirming. It is not the typical "let's see how comfortable we can make the family." Instead, it is more like saying, "Let's show the family members how much the family can accomplish by working together."

Helping families thrive in partnership with you.



It's Not About the Money

It's Not About the Money

by Dr. Gary Chapman

Many of the conflicts I hear in my counseling office are focused on money: "He could get a better job if he would just try," or "All I ask is that she records the checks she writes — balancing our checkbook is a nightmare!" These are the kind of verbal spears that couples throw at each other when they can't agree.
Frequently, financial conflicts focus on how each spouse handles money, and blaming each other for not having enough money. Each spouse has logical reasons for his or her opinions, and couples often argue for years about the same issues without resolution. It's essential to understand that most arguments about money are really not about money. They grow out of a failure to understand each other's needs and to respect each other's personalities.
To resolve a fight over money, we must search beneath the surface of the conflict to discover the physical, emotional and spiritual needs that motivate the way we handle money. Behavior motivated by physical need is probably the easiest to understand. Say I'm driving and suddenly become thirsty. I start looking for a store to buy a bottle of water. My wife says, "Why would you buy water when we can get free water at my mom's house in 30 minutes?" My behavior (buying water) is motivated by thirst (a physical need). On the other hand, my wife's response is motivated by an emotional or spiritual need, which may be much harder to recognize. Understanding these hidden needs is crucial if we're going to understand each other.
6 basic needs
Psychiatrist William Glasser said, "Everything we do — good or bad, effective or ineffective, painful or pleasurable, crazy or sane, sick or well, drunk or sober — is to satisfy powerful forces within ourselves." This was Glasser's way of saying that even inappropriate behavior is serving some function. In some distorted way, such behavior is meeting an emotional or spiritual need.
I'm using the words emotional and spiritual to describe those nonphysical needs that so profoundly affect our inner sense of well-being. The closer we come to understanding the internal motivation of our spouse's behavior, the more likely we are to find a resolution to our differences in the financial arena.
Let me describe six of the inner needs that influence the way we handle money:
The need to love and be loved. People feel good about themselves when helping others. It's this emotional and spiritual reality that motivates someone to be charitable and altruistic.
The need for security — to provide a safe environment for life. This is what motivates people to lock doors at night and save for a rainy day.
The need for freedom. None of us desires to be controlled by our spouse, so our behavior is often motivated by our desire for freedom. When a husband says, "Don't tell me what to do!" he's expressing a feeling that his freedom has been violated.
The need for significance. Within each of us is the desire to do something bigger than ourselves, to accomplish something that will fulfill us. This need often motivates us to give to the poor.
The need for recreation or relaxation. Physically, mentally and emotionally, humans are designed with a need for rhythm of movement between work and play. This is readily observed by the fact that we invest so much time and money in play.
The need for peace with God. This is the need that underlies all others. We want to please God, and this often motivates us to give part of our income in a way that honors Him.
This isn't an exhaustive list of inner needs, but these are some of the most fundamental. If you and your spouse want to understand each other, you must ask the questions:
• What motivates my spouse's behavior?
• What needs is he or she trying to meet?
• What motivates my own behavior?
• What needs am I trying to meet?

Practical implications Now, let's make this practical. Focus on a particular financial behavior that irritates you. Perhaps your husband spends too much money attending sporting events. There's nothing wrong with being irritated if, in your opinion, you cannot afford those expenses. However, when you recognize his need for work-play balance, you are far more likely to help him meet his emotional need in a way that will not break the budget.
Let's say you're irritated that your wife wants to give more of your family income to Christian endeavors. In your opinion, you are not at a stage of life where you can afford this. However, if you understand this is motivated by a spiritual need to please God and help others, you are more likely to be understanding and supportive of her desire.
Let me encourage you to focus on one of those points of irritation and ask yourself, What is motivating my spouse to pursue this behavior? What is causing me to be irritated with my spouse's behavior? You can then focus on discovering how to meet each other's emotional and spiritual needs in an appropriate manner.
4 personalities
Another factor influencing financial conflict in marriage is what we typically call personality — our patterned way of responding to life. Looking at four common personality types can illustrate the importance of understanding each other's responses:
The peacemaker. This is the slow, easygoing, well-balanced personality. In a marriage, the peacemaker tends to ignore conflict and avoids arguments. Unfortunately, this leads to unresolved conflict. The peacemaker is typically easy to live with — until he explodes because the internal pressure becomes too much.
The controller. This is the quick, active, practical person. She tends to be self-sufficient, independent and decisive. Finding it easy to make decisions for herself, she often makes decisions for her husband as well. She does not give in to pressure, but will argue until she wins. In money management, she tends to forget that marriage is a team effort.
The caretaker. This is the self-sacrificing person who wants to meet the needs of others. His emotional nature is extremely sensitive. The caretaker finds his greatest meaning in life through personal sacrifice and service to others. The downside to this personality type is that he often gives away more than the budget allows.
The party maker. This is the warm, lively, excited personality. She enjoys people and makes life exciting for everyone. Unfortunately, this personality also finds it hard to record checks and uses the credit card with little thought of tomorrow.
Each of these personality patterns has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money management. Although none of us fits neatly into one of these four personality patterns, we all tend to identify with one type more than the others. Do I need to mention that a husband and wife seldom have the same personality? And isn't it strange how those differences are attractive when we're dating but irritating when we're married?
A united effort
Your past efforts to resolve financial conflict have undoubtedly been influenced by your personality. If you're a peacemaker, you've probably tried to overlook the things about your spouse's money management that irritate you. You've attempted to hold your frustration inside. The sad truth is that this tendency ultimately leads to greater emotional distance between you and your spouse. When the distance becomes unbearable, you may lash out in anger. Your spouse may ask, "If you feel so strongly about this, why did you wait so long to tell me?"
Once you understand the weakness of your personality type, you can learn to express your frustrations much earlier. If your spouse understands your personality type, he or she can encourage you to express your feelings and assure you that he or she will receive them positively.
Consider making a list of the six basic needs and the four personality types, then discuss them with your spouse. The next time you experience conflict over money, use the list to help you explore why you did what you did. I think you'll agree that most of your arguments about money are really not about money after all.
You must work as a team. It's your money. As equal partners, you learn to handle money in a way that honors God, enhances your marriage and eventually allows you to be generous in helping others. After all, married life is a team effort — even where money is concerned.

Dr. Gary D. Chapman is a pastor and speaker and the author of The Five Love Languages.

This article appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Thriving Family. Copyright © 2013 by Dr. Gary Chapman. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.

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