Can you imagine the excitement if scientists find one living cell on Mars?
The headlines would shout out, LIFE FOUND!
A baby begins with two living cells, a sperm and ovum.
Can you imagine the excitement if scientists find one living cell on Mars?
The headlines would shout out, LIFE FOUND!
A baby begins with two living cells, a sperm and ovum.
Four books come to mind when anyone talks about love, marriage or personal relationships: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley and The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner. Each author approaches relationships from a Gospel perspective, i.e., men and women are created in the image of God, expected to build relationships with each other, and are different from birth . . . and ‘vive la différence!’
The best life, they claim, is to follow God’s pattern established in Adam and Eve and explained by Jesus and the Apostles. It is not a restrictive, “Don’t do that” theology, but a liberating, expansive and freeing philosophy which looks for the best in every individual. Remember, in the Garden of Eden, Adam’s and Eve’s sin was to eat from a forbidden tree. BUT that was the ONLY tree forbidden! Genesis 3:2-3 has Eve telling the Serpent that they could eat from ANY tree in the Garden except ONE. That left a lot of trees open for consumption.
And for those who think the nakedness was somehow sinful and Adam and Eve were just too stupid to realize it, read again. They were as God created them, and had nothing to hide until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the forbidden tree. When a child has done nothing wrong and a parent asks, “What are you doing?” he will simply answer, “I’m just . . .,” no big deal. But if he has done something he knows the parent disapproves of, his response will be to cover up his tracks. “Nothing!” . . . with eyes averted, hastily looking right and left, up and down for any excuse, hoping that his action will not be discovered. That was the nakedness Adam and Eve were trying to hide.
That is the nakedness we now hide as well. None of us is without sin, none has lived fully as God intended us to live, and the result is we need clothes to hide who we are. All of us are afraid, at some level, of exposing ourselves fully, even to someone who loves us, just as Adam and Eve were afraid to expose themselves to their Father, who they knew loved them. The nudist and the communist make the same mistake of trying to live free from guilt and selfishness before we are fully redeemed in the New Jerusalem (coming soon).
The Five Love Languages presents the idea that each of us is wired to give and receive love in different ways, and that by recognizing the “language” in which you and your significant others express and accept love will help to identify the roots of conflicts, connect more deeply, and begin to grow closer together The five languages Chapman describes in detail are Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch.
Everyone’s personality determines how we understand love. We see love expressed in that language which is most natural to each of us and we usually attempt to show it in the same way. However, if the person we love “speaks” a different love language, the communication breaks down and the loved one “feels” unloved; their “emotional love tank” becomes emptier without refilling and misunderstanding and conflicts emerge.
Chapman’s website has a Quiz that one can take to help identify your particular love language. For a starter enticement to purchase one of his books, he provides a seven-day devotional, one for “him” and one for “her” that, even without purchasing a text, can go a long way into improving any relationship, especially a marriage (but not restricted to that). There are several free downloads for anyone just wanting to learn if one of his books is worth buying.
In Dr. Chapman’s Gateway to the The Five Love Languages he summarizes each of the languages as this:
“Words of Affirmation — Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important — hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
“Quality Time — In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there — with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby — makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
“Receiving Gifts — Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous — so would the absence of everyday gestures.
“Acts of Service — Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an Acts of Service person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear are, “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them, tell those with this language their feelings don’t matter.
“Physical Touch — This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face — they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.”
One of the best features of Dr. Chapman’s practice is that The 5 Love Languages is not just for married people. The 5 Love Languages of Children is available for parents; a Singles Edition for the unmarried; a special edition For Men (probably for those of us who have a hard time getting it! 😏); a special one for Teenagers and another for Military Personnel.
Whether you are in a special relationship or just wanting to develop personal awareness of those around you; children, colleagues, friends; take a look at The 5 Love Languages and see if there may be insights that will help you communicate more clearly to those for whom you care.
My Dad died at age 73 from complications with Parkinson’s Disease in 1993. He was a believer before any of his children were born. He and Mother met at an evangelistic rally she and a colleague held in Paradise, Kansas, as war was about to be declared by the U.S. She and her friend had graduated from Foursquare Life Bible College in California and were having meetings in small towns around the Midwest, and as they say, “The rest is history.” Married, a short stint on a recon team in France, farming in Brookfield, Missouri, two daughters and my brother after the war ended, a move to Kansas City, Kansas, and the only Kansas “Sunflower” since Daddy was me! 🙂
Some of my earliest memories include learning to read from the Bible sitting on his or Mother’s lap, and learning to count as they pointed to the verse numbers as we had “family devotions.” He taught adult Sunday School with more students in his classes than many churches of the time. It was in Victoria Tabernacle where attendance ran around 500, a feat almost unheard of before Calvary Chapel and Westside Assembly of God ran into the thousands. Back then the very few biggest “megachurches” ran between one and 2000.
Dad was not an easy man to get to know, a characteristic of his era where men were admired for being strong and silent. When asked if he loved his family it is reported that he answered, “I put a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, food on the table and give them wheels when they’re old enough to drive. What more is a man supposed to do?” Yes, he loved us as much as he understood of love, which was a lot more than we realized as children. I never saw his chest swell larger with pride than when my brother spoke and played piano at Victoria Tabernacle while home on a visit from college.
In the 60s the hippies of California preached a humanistic “love gospel” that slipped over the Midwest to embrace Woodstock, NY, before permeating back through the Rockies and the Pennsylvania forests to finally meet in Missouri where I was in college, getting ready to go to Alaska for a summer program. The summer turned into a year, and at 20 years old I would spend my first Christmas away from family.
I remember calling my parents in August, 1972, from my boss’s office and telling them he had invited me to stay on for a year. Asking them to get on extensions so both could hear, it was a joy to get their encouragement. Dad said he would pray that I would do a good job and be a blessing in Alaska which Mother affirmed.
I had never heard anyone in my family say, “I love you” to another person. That does not mean they had not said it, just not in my hearing. But I had heard a sermon about the love of God and its implications to our relationships the previous semester, the first one I had ever heard on that topic. Just before saying goodbye, with a lump in my throat I meekly said, “Dad and Mom, I love you.” . . . Dead silence on the phone for what seemed like forever but was only moments, Mom spoke up first. “Well, we love you, too.” Then Dad spoke, “Yeah, son, we love you. Now do a good job up there in Alaska.”
When I returned home, Mother met me at the airport, and when Dad came home, as we started to shake hands, he pulled me closer and I realized we were going to hug. And that became a pattern whenever I would be gone for a season, first to finish college, then to my first job, then through career changes. Whenever I came home, Dad and I would shake hands and it would turn into a warm hug.
For families today, any Dad that does not provide physical support to his children is tantamount to child abuse, but back then most of my friends were surprised if they saw Dad and me hug each other. Their dads did not do that, and these were dads that I know loved their sons as much as mine loved me.
Dad had to take early retirement from a long career as a local truck driver due to progression of his Parkinson’s. His feet could not move quickly enough any more to drive the big rigs safely, so at 63 he began to relax and drive Mom up a wall with being underfoot until she discovered their mutual love of the Kansas City Royals baseball team.
Just before he died in 1993 we visited in his hospital room and I asked him, “Dad, I know you’ve taught the Bible longer than I’ve been alive, but I remember one of the things you taught was to never assume someone knows Jesus, no matter how religious they may be. . . . So Dad, do you know you’ll go to Heaven if you die?” To my delight he smiled at first before breaking into a small laugh as he assured me, “Yes, son, I know Jesus is my savior, and you know, based on Psalm 90, I owe the Lord three “years of grace” over the 70 that we are supposed to get.” So we talked more about Father’s love for us and the grace that he gives.
In 1996 I was mulling over these events and penned the following song that I wish someone could sing for you. The music is pretty good and if I ever get someone to show me how to load videos to YouTube, and get a vocalist who can do the song justice, and maybe my brother or brother-in-law to play it, I’ll post an edit to this blog.
In the meantime, here is my memory of my Daddy and his Years of Grace, until I worship Jesus alongside of him:
Years of Grace (A memory of my dad from 2 Corinthians 4) ©May 14, 1996
1. My father laid before me, his body trembling like a leaf.
He said, “Son, I know the Lord Jesus, and I’m ready for Heaven’s relief.
He’s blessed me each year of my seventy-three, and though just a blink of His eye,
That’s three Years of Grace to give back to the Lord when to His presence I fly.”
“These are the Years of Grace that the Lord has given to me,
And though I long to see His face, there may be reasons I cannot see
To keep me here in this time and place to learn to serve Him more faithfully.
Though outside we appear to be dying, inside the light of Jesus is shining.
He put such treasures in this earthen vase in these Years of Grace.”
2. Years ago I left the Way to chase the pleasure of sin,
But Dad prayed and God bore my abuse of His grace to bring me back to repentance again.
So Dad and I spoke of the mysteries of faith and the mercies of God in the night,
And we realized each year was a year of God’s grace bringing us into His light.
3. Then I laid his hand upon my head and said, “Dad, say a prayer for me.”
And like the patriarchs of days long ago he prayed for his whole family.
He named each of us God had put in his care and prayed the light afflictions we feel
Would work in us a greater eternal reward and the weight of God’s glory reveal.
4. So we’re troubled on every side, yet we are not distressed.
We’re never abandoned nor in despair, though persecuted or perplexed.
We may be struck down, but we are not destroyed, for we know His surpassing might
Reveals through our bodies, for Jesus’ sake, His life and His glorious light.
5. Two weeks later my sister called. The Lord had taken Dad home.
His spirit was free from its crumbling shell, from all of earth’s pain he had flown.
I can picture him bowing before the Throne with all the saints who are saved
And singing as angels stand silently by of the Years of Grace the Lord gave.
See you soon Dad, your younger son.
“I want to be as one with Him. I could not be right with God by what the Law said I must do. I was made right with God by faith in Christ. I want to know Him.” Paul, Philippians 3:9-10
Recalling a friend in high school who began reading in Genesis, he came to a couple of us with a blush and said, “Man, all those guys in the Bible sure got to know their wives!” In the mid-60s this was as close as we got to describing the sex act. He was referring, of course, to such passages as Genesis 4:1 and 4:25, where “Adam knew his wife and she conceived” and bore children. We almost considered it Biblical porn, but the point was that to “know” someone had an effect.
This was more than just recognizing Eve across the forest and realizing she was not another animal; more than just mental assent to her identity. This “knowledge” was experiential; a “knowing” like no other, an intimate intertwining of their lives in joy and ecstasy, and a feeling of completion. This is how Father in Heaven wants us to know Him.
From the evening conversations Adam and Eve had with God in the cool of the day, men drifted away from knowledge of the Holy One so that by the seventh generation, “people began to call on the name of Yahweh.” (Genesis 4:26) In other words, they did not know Him anymore, and had to seek Him. They had to look for ways to interact with Him, because we were withdrawn from Him.
But the recognition of the value of knowing God, more than just a theology about Him, was never completely lost. David, many centuries later, would challenge his son, Solomon with these words, “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you . . .” (1 Chronicles 28:9)
The prophets knew this God intimately. For example, Isaiah spoke on God’s behalf when he said, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) This along with many other statements by the prophets revealed a relationship much deeper than mere religious practice, much more personal than a set of liturgical instructions.
Fast forward another thousand years and Jesus declared, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.“ (John 17:3) Note He did not say, “This is eternal life, to get a seminary degree . . .” nor “. . .to live a clean and moral life.” nor “. . .to attend a church and do missionary work.” Now if you interact with Him, He may tell you to do some of these things, but these are the results of knowing Him, not the other way around. We do not get to know Him by doing good things, rather we do good things because He is living in us, and we know Him.
How do we get to know Him? The same way you get to know a husband or wife; the same way you know your sibling or parent, the same way you know your best friend. Once the introduction is made, you spend time together; you compare interests; you share with each other what you are doing. (see August 20, 2016 and August 28, 2016)
Of course, you can read about Him, look at how He behaves in certain situations and what He has done with others, but that only tells you about Him. I highly recommend that you inform your relationship with Him by reading the Bible, but never mistake reading an ocean chart for sailing on the ocean! Read all about Him and those who knew Him while He was physically present on Earth; read and talk with others who know Him and share together what He and all of you talk about. Get to know Him as Paul was desiring to do.
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now you have come to know God.” (Galatians 4:8-9)
“It is one thing to understand a theology of God. It is quite another to experience God in real life.” Bruce Smith