Mon, February 1, 2010

Question: "My husband and I have been married for eleven years. He has a successful business in which he works long hours while I care for our two young children and our home. He usually gives me a special gift for Valentine's Day, but to tell the truth, I would rather just spend a quiet evening with him. I try to explain this to him but he usually becomes hurt and we argue. How can I avoid this problem this year?"

While your husband's gifts to you are intended to express love, it seems that you would gladly do without the gifts in return for some of his undivided attention. Many couples experience similar stress in their marriages. Dr. Gary Chapman believes these tensions have their roots in the different ways we communicate. In his book The 5 Love Languages he states that, "We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language." Dr. Chapman explains that our love language is how we understand and share emotional love, and he identifies five of them:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Fri, January 15, 2010

Parents! God instructs you to teach your children his ways. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it" (New Living Translation (NLT).)

Teaching is active! Deuteronomy 6 is a command to teach God's laws. Verse seven says, "Repeat them (the laws) again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again" (NLT.) That pretty much covers it, doesn't it? It seems we are always home, away from home, going to bed, or getting up! So, we are to teach the ways of God all the time.

God's Word doesn't give us commands without giving us a means to carry out those commands. The bible is a wonderful instruction book. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right" (NLT.) This passage is present tense! The bible still does these things – right now in 2007.

Fri, January 1, 2010

It's January, 2010. Wow! I can't believe it. When I was a teen I remember wondering how it would feel to live in the 21st century. In the 1960s it seemed like a million years away instead of a mere forty. But here I am— 10 years into the time that I wondered about and while some things have changed, a lot remains the same.

One of the commonalities between 1965 and 2010 is the post-holiday let down that many people experience at this time of year. Sometimes it even takes the form of a mild to moderate depression. Often the reasons for this drop in mood are easy to understand: a few weeks of fun and frenzy and family and glitter and gifts and winter wonderland and white Christmas have melted into the reality of a rather drab, cold, long winter. The parties are over, the decorations are put away, the family is back to bickering, and spring break is not even on the horizon. Other times the reasons for the post-holiday blahs are more subtle: financial stressors due to the cost of Christmas 2009, weight gain accompanied by energy loss due to holiday goodies, fatigue due to emotional and physical stressors and unrealistic expectations throughout the season, loneliness that is more pronounced now that the celebrations have ceased, the realization that things put off until after Christmas have now become pressing, or already broken New Year's resolutions.

Thu, November 19, 2009

Is bullying a problem for your child? In one survey of 4,000 children aged 5-16, 60% indicated that they had experienced bullying. Another study confirmed that 51% of children had experienced bullying. According to these statistics there is more than a 50% chance that your child has or will experience bullying. What is an appropriate response to this information?

Teach your child to recognize bullying. Open the lines of communication by talking to your kids about bullying. Define bullying so your child knows what it is. "Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do. Whatever else you get, get insight" (Proverbs 4:7). Our children must have a clear understanding of what bullying is in order to recognize it and protect themselves and others. If the following are true, it's bullying:

Deliberate hostility and aggression

Tue, October 13, 2009

Let's talk about something that has probably touched every Christian at one time or another—the prodigal child, the one who rejects his parents values, morals, or faith. As Christians in 2009, we will encounter parents who are hurt and disappointed by the choices which their teen or adult children have made. Hurt caused by "prodigal" kids takes many forms, but in all cases Romans 5:8 holds true. If we seek to be Christ-like it follows that our hearts will be merciful and loving even in the most tragic times. A father once said, "That parents have broken hearts may not be normal, but it certainly isn't abnormal" (Parents with Broken Hearts, Coleman.)

Ask yourself this question: How many parents can I think of who are heartbroken because the choices of their children? If you're like most, it would only take a few minutes to compile a list of names and the reason for the pain – homosexuality, living together outside of marriage, premarital sex, abortion, drug or alcohol use, pornography, teenage pregnancy, law breaking, imprisonment, suicide attempts, failing grades, quitting school, extreme debt, fired from jobs, lying, cheating, violence, and the most heartbreaking for Christian parents, rejection of the faith.

Sat, October 3, 2009

Q: I've been divorced for almost two years. I've met a great guy and I'm considering marriage. I have two preteens. I don't want the same thing to happen in a second marriage and I'm concerned about my kids. Do you have any advice?

A: Remarriage is a major decision for every person at any stage of life. It is very important to consider what effects your previous relationship will have upon this one. Our past experiences affect us more than we realize and often more than we want them to. Looking back at your former marriage may elicit feelings and thoughts you hoped were gone forever. There are a number of tasks you must work through before you are ready to remarry:

Resolve the Previous Marriage

50% of people remain angry at their ex-spouse 10 years after the divorce. If you fall into that category, work to resolve that anger by assessing your own role in the break-up of the marriage. No one is ever faultless! Confess your wrongs to God. If possible, ask forgiveness of and offer forgiveness to your former spouse.

Assess and evaluate what you learned from the previous marriage. Identify at least three positive and three negative lessons. Recognition is the first step toward resolving a problem.

Sat, August 15, 2009

Q: I'm ashamed to say that my co-worker and I often engage in angry conflict. We're both Christians, but we're both stubborn also. We can't seem to solve this problem and it's really hurting our relationship. What do you suggest?

A: When faced with a problem, everyone has the potential to become angry. Mishandled anger is one of the major roadblocks to communication and often leads to conflict. In the New Testament, Paul distinguishes the feeling of anger from the behavior that follows anger (Ephesians 4:26-27.) We clearly have choices about how to deal with the emotion. It need not control us. God accepts anger as a normal experience in life but points out that the way we deal with choices to manage it makes all the difference in our relationships.

Mary Kassian, in the book Conversation Peace, says that God-pleasing communication is sacrificial because the focus is not on self, but on others. In God-pleasing communication it is more important to understand than to be understood, to listen than to be listened to, and to give than to receive. The writer of Proverbs 18:13 agrees and says, "He who answers before listening – that is his folly and shame."

Sat, August 1, 2009


Q: Most pastors and laypeople are well aware of physical abuse and how destructive it is. However, there also is emotional, verbal and psychological abuse that is certainly as hurtful, and perhaps even more destructive.

Author Denise George has a new book titled, "What Women Wish Pastors Knew." She illustrates a case in which the husband wanted to control his wife's every move "through intimidating manipulation." He keeps her isolated from friends and family, and tells her she is stupid and worthless. She says this woman was "so beaten down emotionally that she endures his ... demeaning insults."

Charles Colson states that "Shocking as it may seem, domestic abuse is about as common in Christian homes as it is anywhere else. But too often, churches ignore the problem. Most pastors haven't been trained to deal with it and have no idea how to help or protect abused women, especially when the husband appears outwardly charming, easy-going and pious."

How can Christians best deal with this problem?

A: The signs of emotional abuse are often overlooked and easy to deny. Emotional abuse is the consistent pattern of being treated unfairly and unjustly over a period of time by one person distorting another person's sense of self resulting in the victim allowing the abuser to control him or her. Sometimes the abusers are aware of what they are doing and sometimes they are not.

Wed, July 1, 2009

Q: I have a five year-old son who gets really mad every time I tell him no. I'm worried that he will throw a huge temper tantrum next fall the first time his kindergarten teacher tells him to do something he doesn't want to do. Can you help?

A: Anger is something we all struggle with to some degree. At age five, your son is starting to understand that anger can be a powerful tool that usually gets quick attention from adults.

In order to answer your question, I'm going to make the assumption that, at least some of the time, you give in to his anger and your "no" changes to a "maybe" or even to a "yes". If that's true, then it seems to me that he's playing the odds that if he reacts with an angry response, you might change your mind. Even if there is only a one in ten chance that you will back off, it's worth the energy it takes to scowl, or yell, or stomp, or cry.

Mon, June 1, 2009

Q: Why do happy events often leave me feeling sad and melancholy?

A: Even in the middle of joyful events, pangs of sadness often bubble to the surface, don't they?

The culprit is actually change. Change is a mixed bag. Sometimes we recognize change as bad -- job loss, death, divorce, illness. When bad change occurs we can easily understand and accept the feelings that occur as a normal part of grief and loss.

But why do we cry at weddings? Why do we feel sick when we drop off our "baby" at college? Why do we feel so forlorn when we've worked so hard for the retirement that's finally here?

The culprit is still change. Even when the change is long anticipated and presumed to be happy and normal, grief and loss occur. You see, good change still brings loss of some sort.