Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Where did we come from, Daddy?

Creation and Evolution contd...

The motto of those who argue for six 24 hour days of creation is ‘It's Just As It Says in the Book’. Those who offer alternative explanations reply, ‘But God has written in two books, not just one’. Beside the Bible, God has written the book of nature (Romans 1: 20.) God’s two books need to be read and interpreted in the light of each other. Ultimately there can be no conflict between the truth of science and the truth of the Bible, for God is the truth behind them both. Without this insight the church would still be trying to censor those who teach that the earth is not the centre of the universe because the Bible ‘teaches’ the sun rises and sets and so circles the earth - not vice versa. So, one of the reasons that some Christians do not hold to creation in six 24 hour days is a different understanding of the relationship between science and the Bible.

The original polemical context of the Bible’s account of creation was not aimed at demolishing anything like modern evolutionary science but rather the polytheistic myths of the surrounding nations with all their distorting views of both God and man. And the positive function of the creation account is similar to a parent who tells their 3 year old that their new baby brother came from the love mummy has for their daddy. Such an explanation won’t get a good mark in A Level biology but in context it is true and can be understood by anyone, anywhere, at any time.


Friday, 24 April 2009

from Developing the Leader within You: John Maxwell - 2

Here’s another of my favourite quotes from John Maxwell …

Become Character Driven instead of Emotion Driven

Character Driven People

Do right, then feel good
Are commitment driven
Make principle based decisions

Action controls attitude
Believe it, then see it
Create momentum
Ask ‘What are my responsibilities?’

Continue when problems arise
Are steady
Are leaders

Emotion Driven People

Feel good, then do right
Are convenience driven
Make popular based decisions
Attitude controls action
See it, then believe it
Wait for momentum
Ask ‘What are my rights?’
Quit when problems arise
Are moody
Are followers

As you look at the above, which list describes you?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Feeling good - sex and listening!

About men

“Our surface understanding is that ‘men want more sex’. What this means in practice is that your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.”

Sex changes everything for men. It unlocks their emotions and we hold the key! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey revealed that men want more sex than they are getting and that women don’t realise that this is a crisis for their relationship. Sex fulfils not just a physical need in men but a powerful emotional need. But that was not all; more than just needing sex, men wanted to feel wanted. The survey revealed that fulfilling sex makes a man feel loved and desired and gives him confidence. When we withhold sex, a man feels incredible rejection which can even send him into depression.

In response Shaunti calls on wives to love their husbands in the way they need. For some women who would love to be able to respond to their husbands but can’t, this may mean getting help. It means making sex a priority and putting it above some of the things that we might, on preference, put higher up our list. (Deb)

About women

“Our surface understanding is that when there is an issue, she doesn’t want you to fix it; she wants you to listen. What it means in practice is that when she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the problem itself.”

The key lesson of this chapter is that we men need to learn the art of listening rather than trying to fix things and to focus on the emotions she is experiencing rather than the problem or solution. This is challenging for most men, because our instinct is to try and fix the problem.

The chapter provides some helpful suggestions on how to listen and reflect back the underlying emotions she is feeling, and shows us how, if our wives are feeling listened to, understood and comforted then she will feel connected and supported. My own reflection on this chapter is I that I probably need to read this once a week, to stay tuned into Deb’s emotional needs. (Steve)

To be continued...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Providing security - closeness not money

About men

“Our surface understanding is that ‘men are providers’. What this means in practice is that even if you personally made enough money to support the family’s lifestyle, it would make no difference to the mental burden he feels to provide.”

Shaunti’s research revealed that a man’s need to provide weighs him down. It is not just a case of ‘wanting’ to provide, but rather a burden that presses heavily on him and which never goes away. “Being a provider appears to be at the core of a man’s identity as a male and as a person of worth.” It is also a way of saying ‘I love you’. It is important that we understand this need - it is easy for us to inadvertently put pressure on our husbands when we express dissatisfaction with our financial situation.

“A man will internalize your disappointment as a personal failure to provide.”

When going through financial difficulties, the best support we can offer is to help relieve the pressure they feel rather than adding to it.

About women

“Our surface understanding is that women want security - in other words, financial security. What this means in practice is that women need emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to get it.”

7 out of 10 married women would prefer to be financially insecure than endure a lack of closeness with their husbands. If we men misread the perceived requirement of financial security and spend more hours at work, then we may be fulfilling our needs of identity through work rather than meeting our wife’s need of emotional security. Some of us think we show our love for our wives by equating longer hours at work with more love shown for our wives. However what wives really want is our time and attention. The chapter finishes with a summary of the 5 things that mean ‘security’ to her:

1. She feels that the two of you are close
2. She sees that you make time together a priority
3. She sees your commitment to her
4. She sees that you are active in the life of the home
5. She sees you making an effort to provide (as long as that doesn’t crowd out 1-4)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Affirmation and emotional testosterone

About men

“Our surface understanding is that ‘men are insecure’. What this means in practice is that despite their ‘in control’ exteriors, men often feel like imposters and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.”

Although many men may appear confident on the outside, they are hiding feelings of inadequacy. “The idea of someone thinking he can’t cut it is humiliating – a feeling every man wants to avoid at all costs”.

Shaunti’s research revealed that 44% of men felt unappreciated at home. The author urges wives not to tear their husbands down - our words and actions speak volumes and many men who don’t feel affirmed at home will look for affirmation elsewhere. One of the lures of pornography is that the women are giving out the message “I want you and you are the most desirable man in the world”. We can encourage and affirm our husbands through supportive sex lives and ensuring that home is a place of retreat. One man said: “The role of sex cannot be underestimated. A great sex life will overshadow and overcome a multitude of imposter messages from the world.”

About women

“Our surface understanding is that ‘women are emotional’. What this means in practice is that women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time - and these can’t be easily dismissed.”

I found this chapter helpful to explain the difference between the working of men’s and women’s minds. The illustration of the ‘invasion of the pop-ups’ was particularly helpful. These pop-ups also carry a far higher emotional weighting for women than emotions do for men. The best parallel for helping men to understand the impact of emotions on women is that it is similar to the effect of testosterone through your body, for women it is emotional testosterone that drives them.

Friday, 10 April 2009

What men and women really want...?

About men

“Our surface understanding is that ‘men need respect’. What this means in practice is that they would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.”

Your love is NOT enough. Your respect means more to your husband than even your affection. The author’s research revealed that a man would rather feel alone and unloved than inadequate and disrespected. In fact, many men equated being unloved with being disrespected and were unable to distinguish between the two! Basically, what this means for us as wives, is that in order to ensure our husband feels loved, we must ensure that he feels our respect most of all.

“If a man’s wife believes in him, he can conquer the world – or at least his little corner of it.”

To show them love, Shaunti suggests, we need to show our respect for their judgements and abilities and in the way we communicate, particularly in public.

About women

“Our surface understanding is that ‘women need to be loved.’ What this means in practice is that even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love - and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.”

As Jeff Feldhahn explains ‘Surely this doesn’t apply to my wife! She knows I love her!’ Yes she probably does, but we’re not talking about what she knows logically, but rather about her feelings….

This underlying insecurity (Does he really love me?) requires us as husbands to constantly reassure our wives. There is helpful direction on how to provide regular reassurance, on listening and showing physical affection - a hug can go a long way to reassure your wife of your love for her. ‘The power of pursuit’ also figures here - your wife will feel loved if you continue to ‘pursue’ her, so we men need to continue to do romantic things, like bring flowers, send cards, write letters and provide meals out.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Two Books - One Marriage!

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

In the following few blogs, Deb and I have summarised the main points of the two books, which I hope will encourage you to read and discuss them and grow in your marriage together. Deb will be looking at ‘For Women Only’ and I will be looking at ‘For Men Only’.

For Women Only covers seven revelations or ‘translations’ from our surface level understanding of men to what that really means in practice. Shaunti stresses that she is not looking so much at ‘outward behaviour as much as the inner thoughts and emotions that led to their behaviour.’ She is careful to make the point that she is making generalisations and that when she talks about how ‘most’ men think - she means ‘most’ and not ‘all’!

For Men Only covers six major findings (I draw no conclusion from the fact that there is one less in this direction!) to help men understand their wives.

What these books give is an insight into the inner workings of the minds of men and women - by understanding one another better, by appreciating our basic differences - then we will find it easier to love and support each other more effectively. I would recommend ‘For Men Only’ and ‘For Women Only’ as essential reading for every married couple in your church - including you!

Friday, 3 April 2009

For Men and Women Only!

In my last series of blogs on marriage, I established the principle that the strength of a marriage is directly related to the ability of that marriage to carry increased responsibility. It must follow that we make the nurturing and strengthening of our marriages a priority. One way in which Deb and I try to do this is to regularly read marriage books together - over the years I have amassed quite a library on the subject!

Recently Deb and I read two new books, For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, and For Men Only which she co-wrote with her husband Jeff, both of which we found extremely helpful. Even after nearly twenty years of marriage it is always possible to find new insights! The importance of good communication seems to be the key building block for a great marriage and communication will be enhanced if we have a clear understanding of our spouses and how they think.

Shaunti Feldhahn interviewed hundreds of men from all walks of life and conducted a professional survey to gain a better understanding of their inner lives. What her extensive research revealed was that deep down, many men had “similar fears and concerns, feelings and needs”. She came to realise that she didn’t understand her husband as well as she’d thought she did! Once she had written For Women Only, the companion volume followed. In both books the aim is to move to ‘the all-important recognition of what (the surface understanding of your spouse) means in practice…’