The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
CHRISTMAS 2004 Impressed Or Depressed?
As we approach Christmas 2004, I can think of no other event that has changed the course of history as that first Christmas over two thousand years ago. You see, without the events of that first Christmas, the most important event would not have occurred.
Today when most think of Christmas, they see santa clause, reindeer, holiday decorations and snowflakes. They see Jack Frost nipping at the door and many see family get-togethers.
Most of us, when we do finally stop to think of the "reason for the season" (if we do) we see an engaged couple settling into a barn where a new born baby is delivered. We see shepherds feeding their
flock and we see three wise men bringing gifts.
I see this, but I also see something far more different. This year, I see soldiers in full body armor ever watchful for the ever so common sniper or suicide bomber as they wonder if and how they will go home. Will it be to a warm embrace of their loved ones, or will it be in a box?
I see homeless people going to a soup kitchen
for one of the two best meals they will have all year. I can
imagine them thinking, "Don't we get hungry the rest of the year also?"
Christmas! Yes, it is a wonderful time of the year...for most of us. It is one of the worse days of the years for many others. More people take their life around Christmas then any other time of the year as often they hope against all hope that maybe...just maybe this Christmas will be different then most of the others they have had.
You see, I work in a ministry called Shattered Men. This Christmas, as in so many others, many men and a few women will not be able to see their children. Remember also that these children will not be
able to see their dad or mom. Much of this will be a result of what is known as "parental alienation syndrome where one parent will vindictively prevent all contact with the children by the other parent.
More divorced fathers will take their own life at this time then any other time because once again the gifts they sent their children will be returned unopened. They also known that these children never knew he sent them and they will be told "daddy does not love you"
Christmas….I see those who have lost loved ones hovering in a corner when families and friends get together hoping no one will see them because this time of year will bring back those memories of perhaps
one of the few people who cared about them but they are no longer here. Christmas is the one day of the year in which that empty chair seems bigger then life.
Ahhh…that empty chair! What if that chair is empty because of broken relationships and it is empty by choice. It could be empty because we have done things to cause the other person to leave but it could
be empty through no fault of our own. The fact that it is empty and all we can think about and once again we hope against all hope that this would change.
It does not matter how big a crowd we are in
if that one person we want to be with is not there.
Christmas, impress or depress?
I see other things too. I see a lot of people handing a piece of plastic to a cashier to pay for gifts they can not afford to give to those who do not need them just so no one will think they are "cheap" Others do it to impress those they are giving the gifts to. I can imagine these same people wondering what they will do the next month when the bills come in. You see, just as sin always demands a payday so do these plastic
cards. Sin always cost more then we can afford, and most of the time these plastic cards do also. My friend, if one makes the minimum payment on most of these credit cards, it will take well over 30 years to pay them off.
I see others that have been without jobs feeling depressed because they can not afford gifts to give at family gatherings.
Christmas 2004! Already I see that it is taking a far too heavy toll on many.
I got this in e-mail recently. It is from a mother whose son is in prison for the murder of his girlfriend. It mattered little that that it was provoked. Her husband died from cancer and another son recently died from a head injury. She may soon be living out of her car.
"The holidays are here and I see allot of houses with trees and
decorations but not mine. instead mine has boxes. (we are packing) We
have no idea on where to go. I have no family and the little that we
do have doesn't talk to me"
I found this post in one of our Christian groups. It fits perfectly here. (God's timing is always perfect)
First Corinthians 13, Christmas Version
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling
lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at
mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all
that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes
attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china
and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful
they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but
rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures
Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, and golf clubs
will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure. Love rejoices in
giving to those who can't.
Some practical suggestions:
Some of the most precious gifts were not bought with money. I remember when I was a teenager; my older brother was not in a position to give gifts. He made Christmas decorations with cardboard, wax and glitter. They were the best decorations on our tree. Oh how I wish I had those decorations now to remember him by. You see, he has not been with us for 30 years. One of the most precious things about those ornaments is that they were made with LOVE!
If you do not have money to buy gifts, there are things you can give.
One year, we made "coupon books: and gave to each other. In them were things like a "Stop argument now" card. When we got into an argument, we could use that to end it then and there. We could make
one for "I will wash your car" or I will clean the house" Another one that would be good in our busy lives is a coupon for an hour of undivided attention of our time. You see, the most precious gifts we can give to anyone is our time. (Caution: think these through so that you will be able to follow up on what is on a coupon. Perhaps you could include how it can be used. One can not expect to have another give an hour of their time if they have to be at work could we?) These things would have to be meaningful to your family
I have been making cards for my wife for some time. I have purchased many cards in the 27 years we have been married and most of these are long gone. I think she has everyone of the cards I made by hand.
You can take a piece of paper, fold it like a card and draw on the "front of the card" and perhaps write a poem or a letter or something meaningful to the person you will give it to.
Leave notes telling your loved ones how much they mean to you. Put them in places they will find them easily.
If you are blessed with the ability to give gifts and invite someone that you know that does not have the means to do so please remember this. Perhaps you could work with them to have gifts "from" that
person to give to others and to enable them to save face in doing this, you could let them "work" it out later with chores that they may be able to do. It is not easy to go to gatherings where gifts are being exchanged without anything to give too.
This is a tough one because a lot depends on what occurred. There may be orders of protection out which preclude these suggestions. If there are…do NOT contact them.
In many situations, there may be two or more people longing to repair the breech but everyone is afraid to cause further damage by making the first contact. They also may be afraid of rejection. but it is better to try, then to not try at all. Perhaps we can be the one to do so. Give them a call or send a card. If they are on the net, IM them and let them know they are special and if someone has truly offended you…forgive
them. If you have hurt them, ask forgiveness but do not say… I am sorry…but. The "but" always negates what you say before that.
LOST LOVED ONES
A friend I have not talked to for some time but whom I still think highly of tells us "When someone you treasure becomes a memory, their memories become a treasure". Most often, a loved one would not want
us to be miserable. It is ok to remember them but remember to treasure the ones who are there so we will not have to say…If only I had known that this would be their last Christmas with us"
If we know of those who recently have lost a loved one, do not ignore them. Sometimes the best thing we can do for them it to just sit with them a spell. Often we do not need to say anything. Just being
there with them will often help. Sometimes we may need to help them cry.
If you know someone with family in Iraq or one of many other hostile places, let them know you are praying for their loved ones safe return…and do it.
Remember those that may be in prison or the
families of those that are. The e-mail above shows that they too
have a very difficult burden to bear. Pray with them, listen to them
and let them know that you care.
I guess the easiest way to address this is to imagine that you are in their place. What would you want from others? What would you need to hear?
Matthew 25:34-45 talks about being hungry and being given food. Being in need of new cloths and being given some. Essentially it tells us that we meet the needs of those in need. I believe by application, we
can add things such as "I was abused and you listened to me" or perhaps even harder, "I wronged you but you forgave me."
Why should we do this? Matthew 6:19-20 tells us not to store treasure on earth where it will be lost but to store it in heaven where it will last forever.
If we do these things above, we will be storing up treasure in heaven but remember, these things will not "buy" us a place in heaven. If we do these things, it could well mean someone coming to us in eternity and saying "Thank you for giving to the Lord…I was a life that was changed."
THE BEST GIFT WE CAN RECEIVE
At this time of year, please do not think of Christmas as any of the above, or even a baby in a manger with no crib for a bed. You see, Christmas is not about any of the above. The manger was only a stepping stone to a cross. It does not even stop here at the cross. You see, tens of thousands have died for others. What makes the difference with this one man? It was not that the KING OF KINGS was born in a manger, It was not that HE died on the cross for our sin… but what really settles it my friend is AN EMPTY TOMB.
It was that empty tomb that proofs beyond all doubt that Jesus is who He said He is. It is that empty tomb that shows that the price HE paid for our sin is valid and that it indeed does cover the cost for
ALL our sin. If you do not know that YOUR sin has been paid for, please look here:
Jesus is the best gift of all and HE is waiting for YOU!
THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE TO GOD!
For those who do know the LORD as above. The Best gift you can give to God is first of all, yourself.
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:5
The next best thing is to bring others to Him so they too can become a Child of the King. The best way to do this is to live the way God wants us to live so that when we tell them about Jesus, our actions will back what we tell them.
The next best gift is GIVING to those in need. God did not give us the blessings He has for us to horde them. Giving to the Lord is not always putting money in a collection plate at church (although this is very important because churches have to pay bills too)
you would feel if you were hungry and cold and you had a good friend
tell you "I will pray that God meets your need" only to see that
friend go into the fanciest restaurant in town to buy a hundred
dollar meal knowing that he will "pray" for you to be fed?
Sometimes WE have to be the answer to someone's prayer.
Love rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till your ready to love them too
Till your heart breaks from the sorrow
And the pain they're going through.
With a life full of compassion
May we do what we must do.
But don't tell them Jesus loves them
Till your ready, to love them too.
To conclude, Christmas will not be a good time for many. Because of this, we will try to have someone in the Shattered Men chat room throughout the day. I will not be able to be there personally all
day as I work nights and will need to get some sleep but we will post in the group how to get me in an emergency. More then anything else, we do want YOU to know that someone cares about YOU my friend.
To see how much someone cares, look at the picture on the home page of our group…and imagine that that person is YOU.!
It can be my friend….It can be. HE is only a whisper away!
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month