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Newsletter Articles. February ‘08

Manhood - “Nailed in Place”.

Parenting - “Transform the Parent”

Marriage - Extra Baggage on Your Honeymoon.

Why did you Choose Her to be my Mother?

Youth Issues. “My Life is Mine!”

Family. Your Family Scorecard.

Mums and Bubs. Are you Ready for Reality?

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MANHOOD – “Nailed in Place.”

On my first visit to Malaysia I spoke at a businessmen’s breakfast and shared about God’s call for men to be men. Dr Edlin Ibrahim was so touched by my message that he asked me to take his speaking engagement at a luncheon that day and to share the same message.

One point I made strongly in that message was about being “nailed in place”. This issue comes from places where men were commissioned to be men. It is used when David commissioned Solomon to be king. It occurred when God called Joshua to replace Moses.

Real Men are nailed in place in terms of their commitment, faithfulness, determination to trust God and their choice of values.

The actual term in the English translations is the call to “be strong”. The original Hebrew word ‘chazaq’, means to “fasten” something in place or to take hold of something with no intention of letting it go. I use the term “nailed in place” to emphasize that real men, men who are fulfilling their godly destiny, do not change. That is, real men are nailed in place in terms of their commitment, faithfulness, determination to trust God, choice of values and so on.

Western culture’s values are constantly shifting. Godly men do not change with the culture. What was evil and repulsive thirty years ago, is still evil and repulsive to them. What they stood for when they were full of zeal, is what they still stand for today.

Sadly, Christian men have allowed standards to crumble around them. What they once thought inappropriate, they now allow. What was once deemed offensive is now tolerated, or even promoted.

Western culture has slid downhill in succeeding generations because men who should have been nailed in place just kept stepping backwards with each new onslaught. Rather than holding ground they gave ground. Instead of seizing and fastening upon unchangeable things they went along for the ride and never regained the things they gave up.

It is time for a new generation of men to rise. It is time for men who will be “strong”, because they have fastened themselves onto things that they will not give up. It is time for such men to not only stand firm, but to work together to build stability and godly depth into their society.

I expect, however, that repentance might be a good place to start. Something like, “Lord God, forgive me for being weak in the knees and for compromising things which You want me to hold firm.”

Doing business with God is a powerful way to become strong. Then you can lend a hand to others who are looking for a mentor – someone who will stand up for what they believe.

PARENTING – “Transform the Parent.”

During a planning session last week my wife, Susan, caught a statement I made and made a Quote of it. What I said was, “TRANSFORM THE PARENT AND YOU TRANSFORM THE PARENTING!”

Many parents buy our materials or attend our programs hoping to gain some added trick, or key to dealing with their child. The more problems parents face the more ready they are to attend courses, visit websites, read books, etc.

Yet the answer is rarely found in some clever way of handling children. The key is actually found in a transformation process within the parent. The issue is not so much about the “doing” of parenting but the “being”.

Consider such instructions from the Bible as Paul’s directive to the church at Ephesus.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Being “tender-hearted” is not a matter of learning how to do nice things for people. It involves the being of each person – the way they really are, not just the way they act.

 Do you want to transform your parenting? Then make it your aim to have a transformed heart!

The same is true in parenting. A good parent is not someone who has learned a bunch of psychological tricks to use on their child, or a set of strict rules which will work well. A good parent is one who has the right heart toward their child and who carries a level of internal commitment to God and their family, prompting them to make wise choices and create good outcomes.

So, when we “transform” the parent, the automatic result is that the parenting is transformed too. If we make the parent more caring, more loving or more humble, those changes will be reflected in the way they interact with their child.

The most important place to be transformed is the “heart”. The heart is the “heart of the matter”. The way we respond from our heart dictates everything else. If we have a proud heart or our heart carries jealousy, anger, shame, selfishness, or any such thing, our whole being and the words we speak will reflect it.

Parents, I encourage and challenge you to open your heart to God. Ask Him to reveal to you what is in your heart that needs to be changed. Ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to give you a heart that is not hard like stone, but is tender and sensitive to Him and others. Your heart is the part of you God is most concerned about.

Take careful note of what God wants to happen to every parent. God prompted one of His prophets to speak about something very important to God – that the “heart” of parents would turn toward their children and that the heart of the children would turn to the parents.

“And he will turn the heart of the fathers to their children and the heart of the children to their fathers, or I will come and curse the earth.” Malachi 4:6.

Do you want to transform your parenting? Then make it your aim to have a transformed heart!

MARRIAGE – Extra Baggage on Your Honeymoon.

Is your wife addicted to buying shoes?

At a recent Valentines Day session I presented to married couples from the Philippines, one wife admitted she has a weakness for buying shoes. I called it the “Imelda Marcos Anointing” - after the wife of Philippines President Marcos, famous for her many shoes. A huge shoe collection, however, is not the worst of what people bring into their marriage. Often far more subtle things have more profound impact.

At a recent Parenting Course a pastor confided that one of his members had recently wed and has married badly. The couple were both very talented and seemed to work well together in the area of their skills. That fact gave them confidence their marriage would work well. One of them, however, brought unexpected baggage into the marriage. Past drug taking and unwise lifestyle choices had taken a large toll, and the person was not yet properly restored in their inner life. Their ability to perform well in areas of their talent did not mean they could perform well in responsibility, commitment, and the challenges of married life.

Each person entering marriage brings their hopes, fears, expectations, pre-conceived ideas, family programming, attitudes, values, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and pain on the Honeymoon and into the marriage. Some of those things are not even understood by the people themselves, let alone by their spouse.

However, God designed marriage to be robust enough to survive these surprises. Proper respect for God, faith in God, humility before God, godly character, godly wisdom, application of God’s grace, willingness to put “self” aside, and the application of Biblical principles empower people to work through the unexpected baggage.

I encourage you to recognise the baggage which you and your spouse brought into the marriage. It’s no use ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there.

Understanding that baggage exists and what your baggage is, is not meant to bring fear. Instead, it gives direction to your spiritual journey as you work through the challenges, with God’s wisdom and grace.

Then seek godly wisdom for dealing with each thing. Fears can be dealt with through God’s love, since “perfect love casts out fear”. Pride can be dealt with by humbling yourself. Pain can be dealt with by letting God heal the broken heart and bind up the wounds.

Understanding that baggage exists and what your baggage is, is not meant to bring fear. Instead, it gives direction to your spiritual journey as you work through the challenges, with God’s wisdom and grace.

If you are facing challenges in these areas and would like some additional input, email our team to see what we would suggest in your situation.

Address your questions to: Questions@familyhorizons.net

PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE – 
“Why did you choose her to be my Mother?”

A young lad once asked his father, “Why did you choose HER to be my mother?”

The father was stuck. He did not choose the boy’s mother to be a mum, but to be his sexual partner. The man was young, irresponsible and ungodly. He only thought about himself and what would make him happy. His attraction to the girl he married was sensual and shallow.

The marriage collapsed quickly, but not before the bride bore him a son. The mum abandoned the marriage and her son, in pursuit of her own foolish dreams. Once the boy was old enough to understand what had happened, and as he felt the pain of growing up with no mother, he asked his dad about the mum.

“Why did you choose HER to be my mother?” was really a cry for a responsible mother. The boy didn’t want to be motherless. He wanted a caring, compassionate mum who would nurture him and meet his needs as he grew into manhood.

The boy is now 41 years old and serving a long-term prison sentence. The father has remarried and is raising a godly family with a godly wife who is as committed as he is to raising their children.

So, as you prepare for marriage you need to see your intended or potential spouse in the broadest possible context. That impressive young man, who has everything going for him, is the one who will teach your sons and daughters about life. That pretty young girl who seems so delightful is the one who will partner with you through some pretty rough moments in the years ahead. You are not just gaining a husband or wife; you are choosing the parent to your children. You are choosing the extended family for your children too. The “in-laws” are as much a part of your child’s life as your family will ever be.

In an arranged marriage these various considerations are worked through by people who have already experienced some of these realities. They are more likely to detect shallowness, irresponsibility, selfishness and the like, than two young people allowed to feed each other’s emotional dreams. However, bringing external wisdom into the marriage choice is not done in our independent minded western culture. So, many unwise choices are made and surprises strike.

The joke goes: Love is blind and Marriage is an Eye-Opener! That’s to say that many people don’t realise what they are getting when they allow their heart to direct the process of choosing a spouse.

I can’t change the culture, but I can bring wise counsel. I challenge you to keep the bigger picture in mind. Realise that the person you marry is much more than your lover or your knight in shining armour. That fragile princess needing to be rescued also needs to make valuable contribution to life, family, home and your future.

Maybe a simple reality check is to imagine your 10 year old child coming to you in the future and asking with tears, “Why did you choose that person to be my parent?”

YOUTH ISSUES – “My Life is MINE!”

Have you been told, “It’s Your Life!” Well, don’t be fooled by that idea. Yes, you have a free will. You can make your own bed and you will have to lie on it. But that doesn’t make you your own property, nor your life your own life.

Part of the destruction of young lives is to disconnect them from real meaning and purpose. A clever way to do that is to suggest, “It’s your life, so do with it as you please!” If a person feels ownership of their life they think they are not as accountable for it. They only have to answer to themselves. “It’s my life, so I can waste it if I want to!”

At the same time they are disconnected from real meaning, purpose and fruitfulness, because they go off chasing butterflies rather than connecting with bigger things.

You are not your own! God owns you. God created you for His purposes. You are on the planet for divine reasons, and you are not supposed to miss them or mess them up. And what’s more, you impact others and must give account for that as well. If you cause someone else to stumble you will be dealt with severely by God. If you undermine someone else’s destiny and divine calling your will have to answer to God. If you marry someone and entangle them in your own life-wasting activities you will be held accountable for that.

Your life is not your own. You are not here to do as you please. You are a fully responsible person and you will be judged for ETERNITY for the things you do and say. There are HUGE consequences to your life. You will even have to account for every idle word you speak, let alone those big arguments, or those obvious times when you hurt others. Even your THOUGHTS are laid bare before God.

To make matters worse, God is watching your actions, words and intentions and will give you what you deserve based on what He sees. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, seeing what both the good and evil people do. God rewards those who trust in Him and he curses those who trust in themselves or who live life by man’s wisdom and standards.

The good news is that God is patient and loving toward you, and will not give you everything you deserve as soon as you deserve it. He is patient with you, waiting for you to repent and get rid of the garbage in your life.

The only thing you own is your will. But even there, you have no power to do anything but love God and be blessed, or defy God and be cursed. You have no power over your life or the outcomes of anything you do. God holds you in His hand. God can bring you sunshine or rain. God will give you what you deserve – almost!

The good news is that God is patient and loving toward you, and will not give you everything you deserve as soon as you deserve it. He is patient with you, waiting for you to repent and get rid of the garbage in your life.

Give up your foolish self-focused ideas. Get into reality. You are a created being, put on the planet by the Living God, for His eternal purposes. God has an amazing destiny for you, but He requires you to trust Him, in faith and to go His ways, no matter how hard that turns out to be. God allows you to cop out, run away, rebel and be eaten up with foolishness. It’s your life to destroy if you are stupid enough to do so. But in reality it’s not your life to do with as you please. Your life is God’s life, created for His pleasure and purposes.

Get smart. Humble yourself before God and make Him Lord of your whole existence. He will put you through the ringer, giving you some touch challenges, to sort out the men from the boys, but the end result of going God’s way is incredibly beyond anything else you can ever hope to do with your days.

Your life is His Life – so yield it to Him.

FAMILY LIFE – Your Family Score Card

Keeping out of the public eye is a major challenge for celebrities, politicians and notable people. The Paparazzi love to snoop into the private and personal lives of well known people. Many people deeply resent this intrusion and the incredible pressure it brings.

Guy Sebastian went from relative obscurity to international fame due to winning the first Australian Idol competition. A few months later he was travelling in a car with his uncle and was spotted by people in other vehicles. The attention he drew was embarrassing and intrusive. He slumped out of sight and remained hidden for most of the journey. A man was once approached by a security officer in a store, because he appeared to be heavily disguised. The man turned out to be Michael Jackson, just wanting to go and do what normal people could do freely, but which his popularity made impossible.

While that kind of popularity really cramps a person’s lifestyle, there is another scrutiny of each person’s life that we need to be aware of. God is watching us and our family. In fact, your family is on your personal score card.

Consider these examples from the Bible. When a man was being considered for leadership in the church his wife was to be evaluated. She was to be a submissive wife who did nothing to ruin his reputation. She was to be a sober and reliable woman. The man’s children were to be obedient to him, so it could be said that the man properly ruled his whole household.

The Apostle John also pointed out that it is not what people declare to be true that should be believed, but what you see them do in their family life. If a man says “I love God” but hates his brother the man is a liar. Family life is a more true reference point than the grand statements which people make.

If you resent your parents, despise your sibling, won’t forgive a family member, compete and dominate in your home, then you have failed the earliest lessons in life. You will go on to do those same things in your work, marriage and future family.

So, don’t think you can leave your family life behind and go off to earn your own fame and reputation independently. That doesn’t work with God. God knows if you are jealous, resentful, spiteful, intolerant, unforgiving, manipulative, contentious or the like. God sees what you do in the privacy of your own home, and He remembers how you were in your childhood family. Your family is a big part of your personal score-card.

I like to put it this way. Your family is like the early childhood lessons of your education. If you fail in these earliest of classes then you never really graduate. All the lessons that you do from then on are compromised by the failures of those early classes.

If you resent your parents, despise your sibling, won’t forgive a family member, compete and dominate in your home, then you have failed the earliest lessons in life. You will go on to do those same things in your work, marriage and future family.

You should have learned to forgive, love, care for others, be generous, suffer loss, trust God no matter what, be at peace with all people, and so on.

While your family is on your score-card, it’s a score-card you are able to change. You can put things right and change your personal record, turning ‘F’s into High Distinctions.

Did you fail the earliest grades of life? Have you come out of your childhood with bad responses? If so then you need to go back to those things and put them right. Ask God to forgive you. Put your heart right toward your parents, siblings and extended family.

While your family is on your score-card, it’s a score-card you are able to change. You can put things right and change your personal record, turning ‘F’s into High Distinctions.

How’s your Family Score-Card looking today?

MUMS & BUBS – Are You Ready for Reality?

Sarsha & Dijon are deeply in love. She desperately needs him to help her after a troubled childhood. He is totally captivated by the idea of being her troubadour. He is going to make her happy and she is going to complete him. The fantasy has begun and they eagerly marry so they can live their dream.

Many irresponsible months later, after notching up a string of giddy moments and experimental exploits Sarsha and Dijon are going to have a baby. It is one big adventure and it’s just SO exciting to them both. This is their greatest achievement and the fruit of their delirious love for each other.

But after a wrenching year of incredible duress the couple are struggling to maintain their marriage. They DEFINITELY will NEVER have another child. Babies are just SO demanding. The impact of the baby on their free-wheeling lifestyle has been traumatic. The load placed on their flimsy relationship has almost been to breaking point.

What went wrong for this couple is that Reality hit. Their foolishness did not dictate reality, but simply hid their eyes from it.

What went wrong? Why didn’t the baby fit into the fantasy? Why did the bubble of delusion ever have to be burst? Why couldn’t the baby just do what the parents wanted it to do? Why couldn’t they just continue their silly game with a baby as part of the picture?

What went wrong for this couple is that Reality hit. Their foolishness did not dictate reality, but simply hid their eyes from it. Giddy giggles are not the stuff on which real life is built. Shallow personalities and empty values are straw, no matter what they dress up as.

This couple was not ready for reality, but reality is what they have. Over the next few years they will both mature, even if painfully and haltingly. They will finally come to the place where they see other things than their fantasies. Hopefully that day will come, for their sakes and for the sake of their baby.

Immaturity and romantic fantasies do not prepare people for parenting. And in our highly peer-streamed culture few young adults have shared in the care and nurture of babies and children. Many young mums have never held a baby before their own. Many young dads are ill-prepared for the invasion of a young dependent baby into their home.

Children are a blessing from God and are God’s reward. Yet many people reel in shock under the unexpected impact of a baby in their life. The problem is not with the baby, but with the way our culture prepares people for reality. The “happily ever after” stories and self-indulgent values rob many of reality and undermine their chances of a healthy start to marriage and family.

The reality check which comes from a first child and the work-load resulting from a growing family are what contribute to a person’s maturity. I have heard it said of a young man and woman at times, they have much going for them but will be so much better value once they have been married and started a family. The experience of facing realities which marriage and babies force upon them brings out a maturity and strength that is needed.

I encourage those who have not yet started a family to spend time with those who have. I encourage those who have young children to actively involve children, youth and young adults in the experience of caring for the child. These experiences help bring reality into the understanding, and protect people from the fantasies that would otherwise overwhelm them.

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