A Word about God's Heart for Women on INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Tomorrow is March 8th - International Women's Day. Though we in the US don't really celebrate it - it is a huge, huge day overseas. Flowers are generously handed out with well wishes and women are really celebrated. But think of it with me, who hates women the most? Satan hates women the most. We see that a woman was the first target of the Devil in the Garden of Eden. Backwards religions in the world diminish, cover and shun them shamefully where they function practically as slaves in the home. Yet in sophisticated society they are abused as well by their elevation via culture and entertainment to be objects to stare at and satisfy creepy people's desires. Who really loves women the way they ought to be loved and valued honorably the way they desire to be loved? Who really recognizes their value and importance? The answer to that question can be found at the Resurrection Morning of Jesus. Who was the first person Jesus appeared to? No, not to His Disciples or the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. But to a woman. Mary Madeline. 

Women's status in the middle east those day was not much different than it is today. Women could not even be witnesses in a court case - yet Jesus appears FIRST to a woman and calls her by name. Just the way He says her name causes her to recognize who He really was, that He was not just the gardener she mistaken him for at the beginning. She is the first witness of the resurrection and goes and calls Jesus's disciples to tell the wonderful news. It was a woman that God choose to bear His Son into the world. 

So as we celebrate International Woman's Day, let's remember God's honorable and virtuous heart for women. True love is honorable love that finds tremendous value in what it loves that is followed up by care and protection. That is what we wish for all of our wives, sisters, mothers and godly friends in the Lord tomorrow!

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

Going Beyond The Words in our Communication

There is much more to communication than meets the ear. We've all heard it cited "loose lips sink ships" and we've read what James had to say in chapter 3 verses 1-10 regarding the untamable tongue. But what constitutes communication? Where do people go wrong in relational conflicts or marital communication breakdowns? When someone we love storms off in fury what we often do is throw our hands up in the air and ask "what did I say wrong?" We then attempt to repair the damage done by a selection of carefully chosen words.

The reality is that very little of our communication is in the form of audible words.
7% to be exact, according to recent studies, of what we communicate is the result of the words that we say, or the content of our communication. Very little of our communication with others is really what is being said. While someone listens to what we are saying nodding their head smiling, are we sure that our audience is hearing what we are saying? What are we really communicating?

Words are just containers of thought, spirit and vibration. We must calculate with the 7% of communication 2 other factors: "verbal behavior" and "nonverbal communication".

38% of our communication to others is a result of our verbal behavior. Verbal behavior includes tone of voice, timbre, tempo, and volume. It does not take an Einstein to know that the way something is said supersedes the selection of words used to deliver the thought.

55% of our communication to others is a result of our nonverbal communication. Non-verbal communication is in our body posture, breathing, skin color and blush as well as our movement - also known as body language.

Thus 93% of our communication cannot be really controlled. The spirit of what we say, or our body language and facial expression betrays our words if what we are thinking contrasts what we are actually saying. Built inside people is an antenna that interprets what's behind the words and actions, thus they know when someone really loves them when they hear "I love you"

The key is in Mat 15.18 "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh". What we hold in our hearts and minds about people will always be communicated to them no matter the words we choose to use. What needs to be changed is how we think about those we communicate with or those we may be in conflict with.

Behind every word that God speaks to you and I are the multitudinous thoughts of peace and love - Jer 29.11. God's thoughts towards us pack the Words He speaks to us, thus the tone, the Spirit and the vibration we experience when we Hear God's words is consistent with what He is thinking. His words are never clouded with the shadow of inconsistent thoughts with love and grace - thus He never changes in His mood. This breeds trust and faith in our relationship with God.

Thus the solution in our discussion. We must guard our heart and thoughts about others. Hold people in the dear light of God's love and how He thinks of them. Think of how God loved Israel in her backsliding in the book of Hosea and how God though pressed by the wandering of His people, never forsook His Covenant of Love with His People.

A pastor, a father, a husband must lead those he influences by quietly and secretly holding God's People in the embrace of God's perspective. When we spend more time loving people, forgiving people, and cherishing people in our hearts and minds; it transforms our communication. It spontaneously revives joy, love and trust in our relationships.

Transformation in our communication and resolution to our relational conflicts is not in carefully selecting words or actions but is found in a change of the content of our thoughts about those we struggle with.