Does Satan Really Exist?

Does Satan Really Exist?

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The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Satan the devil is making headlines. Recently, a 2008 speech by presidential candidate Rick Santorum resurfaced and instantly became the epicenter of a major controversy. Why? Because it mentioned Satan.

“This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war at all. This is a spiritual war,” Mr. Santorum told an audience of students at a Catholic university in Florida. “And the father of lies has his sights on what you would think the father of lies, Satan, would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country—the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after, other than the United States.”

Mr. Santorum also said that the devil heavily influences American academia, religion, culture and politics.

A presidential candidate talking about Satan? Not a metaphor, but a real, living being who actually affects us and the world we live in? In the orthodoxy of political correctness, this is heresy. Liberals and even some conservatives are branding Santorum as reactionary, zany, prehistoric—“a religious nut.” Even many Christians are distancing themselves from such an idea, and almost everyone is wagging his head about what this means for the candidate’s “electability.”

But that’s not really the main point. The point is this: He said there is a devil. So—is there?

Who’s in Charge Here?

1. Who is the god of this world? 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Comment: Most Americans believe there is a God; as does about one out of every two people on Earth, according to an Ipsos Social Research Institute global survey last year. So, ask someone, particularly one of the world’s 2 billion Christians—or yourself—that question: Who is in charge of this world? If you think it’s God, then you’re at odds with the Apostle Paul, who says this world’s god is someone who has “blinded the minds of them which believe not.”

2. So, again, who exerts power over the whole world? Revelation 12:9.

Comment: Let that sink in! This is talking about someone fighting God and getting thrown out of heaven, down to Earth. It says that this being, like the one in the previous verse, “deceives the whole world ….” Why? Because it’s actually the same being: “the dragon … that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan”! How explicit. Your Bible says the devil is very active, very evil—very real!

How exposed is a country whose leaders, shepherds and critics scoff at even the suggestion of his existence? Answer: The Prophet Isaiah said this great fallen archangel “didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12).

3. When did Satan get control? Genesis 3:1-11.

Comment: This is the story of the world’s founding father and mother. God had given Adam and Eve a command. Then He allowed the devil to come along, in the form of a serpent, and test their obedience. The serpent enticed Eve to step away from God, out on her own. She observed the situation, used her own reasoning, decided for herself what was right and wrong, and then experimented, breaking the command (verse 6).

Does that sound familiar? Do you know someone who believes it is his inalienable right to decide for himself what is right and wrong? Do you believe that? It’s not just you or your friends, it’s everyone in the world: smart, simple, rich, poor, religious, agnostic, atheist. This is one of humankind’s most universal beliefs: We decide what is good and evil. But think back. Who was it that sparked this idea? That old serpent! (verse 1).

4. What did Jesus Christ believe about the devil? Matthew 4:1-11.

Comment: Did you know that Satan the devil is mentioned more than 30 times in the Gospels? These four books are biographies of the life of Jesus, and they record that He taught about, described, warned against, and even spoke to Satan! Matthew 4 reports an epic showdown between Jesus Christ and Satan the devil. What was this faceoff about? Satan was trying to get Jesus to do the same thing every other human has done: observe the situation, use His own reasoning, decide for Himself what was right and wrong, and experiment (verses 1-7). What does this ultimately amount to? Worshiping Satan! (verse 9).

Don’t overlook verse 8. Who was the one to offer his enemy “all the kingdoms of the world”? Satan, not Jesus. He was the god of this world, and Jesus did not deny that. In John 12:31 and 14:30, Jesus actually calls the devil “the prince of this world.”

However, unlike Adam and Eve, Christ defeated Satan in that harrowing battle. How? By submitting to God and obeying His commandments (Matthew 4:4, 7 and 10). Don’t try to tell Jesus Christ that the devil is a metaphor!

Why Do We Do What We Do?

1. How come we don’t feel like we are being influenced by Satan? Ephesians 2:2.

Comment: It’s very easy to associate Satan with a little caricature standing on one shoulder, or as an influence that is obviously insidious and easy to detect because it is so dark and evil. But Satan is actually much more subtle—and much more effective—than that. “The prince of the power of the air” transmits his influence much like radio waves or cell phone signals, except he broadcasts attitudes, moods and emotions: pride, competition, strife, envy, vanity and, most of all, selfishness.

2. What does the prince of the power of the air influence humans to do? John 8:44.

Comment: We want to believe that human nature is basically good. But look at this world—all of it! Think about what happened to the busload of people described in the cover story of this issue (page 4). Think of the violence choking Syria right now, or even within the inner cities of many urban areas in the West. Think of the many millions who are suffering severe deprivation and abuse because of corrupt government. Think of gang warfare and tribal conflict. The evidence is everywhere that the god of this world is “a murderer from the beginning”!

Consider too the many other, more subtle ways that man manifests his evil nature. We are ignoring each other, taking advantage of each other, stealing from each other, lying to each other, abusing each other, torturing each other. “The father of lies” guides us—sometimes very subtly—to be greedy, to be arrogant, to be thankless, to be self-righteous and selfish. We can see Satan’s influence when we look at the world and see hateful partisans, unjust judges, corrupt lawmakers, bloody warlords, horrifying criminals, and so much more heartbreaking wickedness. But do we realize that this is the same selfish evil that is inside each of us?

Never forget, we are living under a reign of terror: the administration of the god of this world. Everyone has absorbed his attitude of “self is right.” With that terrible wedge hammered hard in between us and God, we are left prone to all of Satan’s other hurtful influences, many too heartbreaking to mention. This suffering world is proof.

Know Thine Enemy

1. How does Satan feel about us? 1 Peter 5:8.

Comment: The verse compares the devil to a roaring lion searching for victims to devour. It also tells who Satan is: “your adversary.” In every way, on every level, this wicked being is our enemy! He wants to destroy our relationships with God and to murder us spiritually and physically. The Bible warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant.” See also Luke 22:31.

2. What does Satan look like? 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.

Comment: Caricatures of the devil based on Dante’s Inferno conjure images of a grotesque red creature with fangs, horns and a pointy tail. Even if you don’t imagine Satan that way—if you believe in the Satan of the Bible at all—you probably imagine someone who is visibly and obviously evil incarnate. But this passage says that he transforms himself into “an angel of light.”

Satan’s influence can seem innocent, even good sometimes—especially to people who rely on themselves to discern what is right and wrong. Revelation 2:9 says that you can even think you’re worshiping the true God—and actually be worshiping Satan! The only way to defend against this powerful enemy is to trust and obey someone more powerful: God.

3. Is there any way to fight Satan’s influence? 2 Corinthians 2:11.

Satan has tools he has used over and over. He takes advantage of our weaknesses, especially our vanity! When we self-righteously refuse to admit that we don’t know right and wrong of ourselves—when we fail to submit to God in order to seek both His wisdom and His protection—we make ourselves extremely vulnerable!

But we don’t have to be blind to what the god of this world is doing. There is a way to remove our ignorance of Satan’s devices. There is a way to understand the truth. The first and most important step is to pierce through the deceit Satan relies on more than any other: the lie that he doesn’t exist.

God’s Word—and our world—is full of the proof. Satan does exist! That is the truth of your Bible!

You need to know more about “your adversary the devil.” Can you prove he is real? How pervasive is his influence? Did God create a devil? To receive satisfying, thorough scriptural answers to these fundamental questions, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages and study Chapter Two, “Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits.”

The Way of Peace Momentarily Restored

The Way of Peace Momentarily Restored

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A powerful, genuine example of peace was given to this world for a tiny period. When you see how people reacted, you can understand why this world has no real peace. Nevertheless, we are about to have world peace in spite of man and his human nature.
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Look at the list of world leaders Herbert W. Armstrong came into contact with, and who responded warmly to him. They called him an ambassador for world peace. That is a miraculous understanding, when you realize that he had that kind of an impact on the leaders of this evil world.

Mr. Armstrong did restorethe way of peaceto God’s Church. He also, momentarily, restored that to the whole world as well, I believe. He was part of a project that, if fully understood, showed the world how to have peace!

One of the most dramatic examples of Mr. Armstrong’s efforts to promote peace in this world revolved around the construction of a world peace center. What truly made this extraordinary was the fact that it was promoted by perhaps some of the most unlikely individuals—and at probably the most significant, profound location it could possibly inhabit on Earth.

An Incredible Peace Offer

Mr. Armstrong wrote about this peace effort in Quest/81. “For too long, leaders have dealt with effects, ignoring the causes of our problems,” he wrote. “It is imperative that they come to a knowledge of the way that will produce peace. President Anwar L. Sadat of Egypt may be pointing to that way” (May 1981).

In this article, Mr. Armstrong listed several significant events that converged in this historic peace initiative. Among them was Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, which Mr. Armstrong called the most incredible peace overture of modern times. “After four bitter wars against Israel in 30 years, President Anwar el-Sadat did an unheard-of thing! On Nov. 20, 1977, he declared peace, not war!”

What a sacrifice this man made! Virtually the entire Arab world harbored intense hatred for the Jews. Yet Sadat traveled right to the heart of the Jewish state and spoke to the Knesset in Jerusalem. These nations were at each other’s throats. Then suddenly, this courageous man had a change of heart. President Sadat extended an offer to the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, who accepted. Sadat came before the Knesset and said, “You would like to live with us in this region of the world, and I tell you in all honesty that we welcome you among us.”

Perhaps he didn’t fully realize how much hostility that move would create, but from that point forward he was a marked man. He had an ambulance following everywhere he drove because he knew a lot of people wanted to kill him. His trip to Jerusalem even triggered assassinations of other Egyptian dignitaries.

Is that not a sacrifice for peace? This man was most unusual. Anwar Sadat became one of a few great leaders in this world. He sacrificed his life for true peace. That is the sign of a great leader!

How many such men do you see in this world?

Mr. Armstrong called that a “genuine peace offer”! That was what launched the peace process. But nothing we have seen since has even come close to the sincerity and praiseworthiness of that initial effort.

In the past, I have criticized Israel for accepting that offer from Sadat. But after studying into it more—and particularly after looking at how Mr. Armstrong responded to it—I am convinced that this really was a valiant and laudable peace effort, and I even believe that, to some degree, God’s hand was in it.

Sadat went to Jerusalem to declare peace. And it worked quite well, right up to very recently, as far as Egypt and the Jews are concerned.

A World Peace Center

In this Quest/81 article, Mr. Armstrong wrote about a specific idea that Sadat had: “He plans to build at the base of Mount Sinai a world peace center, emblematic of peace among all nations and religions” (emphasis added throughout). The magazine included an artist’s drawing of the proposed edifice, and it had a church building, a mosque and a synagogue.

“The concept is unique! A total departure from any previous peace undertaking,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. This effort showed these two nations’ “extreme willingness to give extraordinary sacrifice in the start toward peace in their region.”

When Mr. Armstrong heard of Sadat’s proposal, he immediately donated a hundred thousand dollars, as down payment on a total pledge of one million dollars. Obviously Mr. Armstrong knew they weren’t going to solve the problems and have peace in the world. He knew the prophecies—that this world will end violently, and true peace can only be achieved once the Prince of Peace returns. Still, he did all he could to represent peace and to promote peace in this world, and he demonstrated his strong desire that all men work toward that end today.

God’s apostle saw real vision in this project, and saw what it could do to point people in this world toward real peace.

President Sadat’s thoughts on the peace center are quite inspiring. “It will be a living symbol of the brotherhood of man, a lighthouse that will rekindle the spirit of coexistence and tolerance among nations,” he said when he announced the project. “As we look at the world today, we realize the great need for a reminder of the oneness of human destiny and the continuation of the divine mission, which is in essence, a great act of mercy. This monument must light the path of the generations yet to come.”

What a noble plan in this ignoble world!

I believe this project was special because God’s apostle was a part of it. What other peace agreement have you ever heard about that is comparable to this? Mr. Armstrong saw that, and he wanted to encourage President Sadat in these efforts. He was called the ambassador for world peace without portfolio. He really was a man of peace! He knew how to have peace! And he knew that Sadat was on to something really big in this world. I believe Mr. Armstrong’s involvement was God’s way of saying, This is an act of peace by a true peacemaker. You need to support him and help him and be a part of this. Leave that at least as an example. And what an example Anwar Sadat was to the world, and Mr. Armstrong as well.

During the Millennium, God is going to force the Egyptians to come up to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:17-19). At that time, they’re going to recognize what Mr. Armstrong saw: that Anwar Sadat was a great man.

This world is about to explode into World War iii, and here was a man, Anwar Sadat, who made a peace effort in a grandiose way, and made himself a target in doing so. At a time when the number one problem was and still is human survival, you would think people would be scurrying to find any peace plan that might avert that greatest of all tragedies, the snuffing out of all human life. That is what Christ said would happen if He didn’t return (Matthew 24:22).

This small slice of history left us a vision of imminent peace in this world. We are about to have peace fill this Earth, which has a bloody history of warfare.

The Sadat-Begin-Armstrong peace project left us a message of soaring hope in a hopeless world!

‘Them That Make Peace’

On Oct. 6, 1981, Anwar Sadat was assassinated by his enemies—including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the very organization getting control of Egypt today. God allowed Sadat to be killed and that peace center to die. If nothing else, this gave the world a condemning example of how it hates the way of peace even on a letter-of-the-law level. What a witness against it!

People need the Holy Spirit of God to heal their minds—and soon God is going to give it to them. Jesus Christ died so they might have the Holy Spirit to cleanse their thinking and truly forgive people for what Satan did to them.

Don’t the nations today need peace? We are in a period of time just before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” God is about to give us peace forever, but it is preceded by the worst suffering ever on this planet. God wants us to remember and escape the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. However, most people just scorn God’s warning message.

I truly believe that, for a moment, Mr. Armstrong really did restore the way of peace to this Earth! He knew the way of peace, and he knew and taught about the God of Mount Sinai. If you bring this God into your life, you will have peace! If you have all parties looking to this God, how could you not have unity and joy?

Mr. Armstrong taught the world the way of peace, and it was and still is a prelude to world peace! Not just peace for one church or one state or one nation—God is about to bring world peace! What a beautiful thing that is!

Nickeled and Dimed

Nickeled and Dimed

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America is following in the footsteps of ancient Rome. But the dollar’s value is falling far faster than the denarius ever did.
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

The U.S. Mint is facing a big problem. It is the same problem faced by the Roman Empire as it headed toward collapse.

It now costs the government more money to mint pennies and nickels than the coins are worth!

Consequently, the Obama administration has asked Congress for permission to debase the coinage. It smacks of Diocletian ordering the silver out of Roman money so the decaying empire could pay its bills and fight its wars for a little longer. But once Rome started devaluing its money, it set off economic effects that doomed it to fail.

Could America Be Nearing Collapse?

Here is the situation: America loses more than $100 million a year minting pennies and nickels. It costs the Mint 2.4 cents to make a penny and 11.2 cents to make a nickel.

But the metal composition of the penny and nickel has not changed in more than 30 years. So what has happened? The value of America’s money is being destroyed.

In 1935, one U.S. dollar would buy 1/20th of an ounce of gold. By 1968, it was down to 1/35th of an ounce. Today, one dollar will buy you only 1/1,650th of an ounce. The same thing happened against silver: In 1968, one dollar would buy an ounce; today it will only buy you 1/32nd of an ounce.

The dollar hasn’t plunged just against precious metals. It is also in free fall against copper, nickel and zinc—the metals found in pennies and nickels. In fact, the dollar has plummeted against orange juice, whiskey, beans, bullets, pork bellies, single family houses, automobiles, coal, oil, good suits, health care, tuition, labor costs—and virtually every measurable commodity. If you can name it, it probably costs more today than it did 30, 10 or 5 years ago—even last year.

The Mint reports that if it replaced the copper-coated zinc penny (it took the copper out of the penny in 1982 because it was too expensive) with a steel one, it would still not be profitable. What’s cheaper than steel? Tin? Nope—a penny’s weight of tin would cost more than a nickel. A penny’s weight of aluminum would cost 2 cents. Lead is little cheaper. Anyone for a plastic penny? Clay? Asbestos?

Calls to just get rid of the penny altogether are growing louder. But that will only hide the danger to the dollar for a little longer.

The Dollar Is in Grave Danger

Millions of people, especially retirees, are seeing their life savings devalued. Each year their money buys less and less. Even if they don’t spend a dime, inflation steals it from them.

And since the Federal Reserve is artificially keeping interest rates low (designed to increase big bank profitability, promote consumer borrowing, and thus stimulate the economy), the Fed is driving America’s most vulnerable investors into riskier assets (such as the stock market) in an effort to make their retirement money last longer. A crisis is looming.

During his State of the Union address this past January, President Barack Obama barely mentioned America’s debt and deficit problems. He hardly touched on the massive, society-changing cuts that would be required to balance the budget—or the massive money-printing binge (and money-debasing spree) the Federal Reserve would have to undertake to finance government spending.

By far, the biggest economic issue threatening America’s livelihood is its addiction to debt. This year, America’s federal debt exceeded its gross domestic product; confidence in the dollar is dying; people are seeing their life savings wiped out—and still the president gave the issue no more than a rhetorical nod. Instead, he talked about taxing billionaires. The truth is, the government could take 100 percent of billionaires’ assets (not just income), and America still wouldn’t be able to pay its bills! That’s how big just the nation’s yearly deficit is—let alone its debt.

Rome’s Example

When ancient Rome started having trouble paying its bills, it did essentially the same thing the Federal Reserve is doing today: Progressive governments reduced the silver content of each coin so they could make more coins to pay the bills. And each time, the empire seemed to prosper—for a while.

But each time, once the temporary stimulus wore off, economic conditions worsened. And politicians, rather than adopt the harsh economic reforms needed to stabilize conditions, resorted to further currency debasement. This vicious cycle was made worse by political infighting and greed.

For Rome, the currency collapse occurred over centuries before Rome collapsed. Early in the first century, the denarius had been essentially pure silver. By the time of Nero, in a.d. 54, the coin’s silver content had slipped to 94 percent; by a.d. 68, it was 81 percent; by a.d. 218, only 43 percent was silver. In a.d. 244, Philip had the silver content reduced to 0.5 percent. At the time of Rome’s fall, the silver content of the denarius was 0.02 percent, and pretty much everyone refused to accept it as payment for anything.

For America—in an age of paper money, printing presses and rapid information dissemination—the currency devaluation has been much quicker. The dollar has lost more than 95 percent of its purchasing power since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

It is a well-charted route to disaster, but central banks and governments are poor students of history.

Abandoning pennies and nickels is only a start. It will get far worse. Dollar bills will soon come to resemble quarters—and quarters, dimes. Eventually wads of bills will resemble worthless newspaper.

When Rome destroyed its money to pay its bills, it destroyed two of the pillars of its existence: its economy and the faith in its political system. These are the exact two things that America seems to be doing its best to destroy today.

A World Without Video Games—What Would It Be Like?

A World Without Video Games—What Would It Be Like?

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From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was the best-selling movie in the United States last year. But did you know that another fantasy world made almost twice as much money in its first month of release, as Harry Potter did for the whole year?

It’s called Skyrim, and it took in $650 million last November alone. How come many of us have never heard of it?

Skyrim is a video game. It is about a dragon god prophesied to destroy the world. It is the player’s job to become a thief, a warrior or a wizard and battle him in an open-ended game with quests and journeys that allow players to “explore richly textured worlds filled with choice” for hours a day, or whole days and weekends at a time, or if they choose—continually (Christian Science Monitor, March 18).

One look at Skyrim’s earnings proves that video games have become a forceful—even dominant—part of American culture. They are America’s new national pastime. Yet most of us are probably unaware of how prevalent and influential video games are in society.

A Nation of Addicts

A staggering 183 million Americans play video games at least an hour a day. Virtually all Americans (97 percent) ages 12 to 17 play video games. And almost 5 million Americans play at least 40 hours a week—the equivalent of a full-time job.

The industry rakes in tens of billions of dollars per year. It thrives on hooking and addicting users.

Millions of people live, breathe and play in virtual worlds—and not only young people. Atari hit it big in the early 1970s. Today, one quarter of all gamers are over the age of 50.

Why are so many people, of all ages, enthralled with video games? Speaking as the featured presenter at a conference in Las Vegas where his product was named the “game of the year,” industry legend and Skyrim director Todd Howard offered an explanation. “What can games give you that nothing else can?” he asked. The answer: Pride. “Pride in something you did,” he said.

Are we really so desperate? Are people so lacking in aspirations and accomplishment that this is what it has come to for so many Americans?

Experts in Futility

By the time the average American youth turns 21, he will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games over more than a decade.

Consider that number. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000-hour rule. To achieve mastery in any field of expertise, he explained, takes about 10,000 hours of practice over the course of about 10 years. Experts become experts because they abide by this rule. “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good,” Gladwell writes. “It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

Imagine what those 5 million Americans who spend 40 hours a week playing video games could accomplish if they instead devoted that much work to something useful. In just five years, this country would have 5 million more master designers, craftsmen, engineers, pilots, scientists, builders, artists, architects, painters, geologists, farmers, inventors, orators, poets, writers, singers, violinists, gymnasts. Imagine how different America could be if the 183 million Americans who spend at least one hour a day playing video games did the same thing.

And now imagine the world we might live in if all these people took just a portion of that time and spent it with their families, teaching their children how to become experts at productive pursuits. What a different, more prosperous, more inspiring, more beautiful world we would live in!

Are video games a dominating force in your home? Are you willing to change the course of your child’s life?

Real-World Needs

Many people look at America and decry its deficiencies: its collapsing economy, its waning influence, its growing list of enemies, its political fighting, its dysfunctional leadership. They see a house divided, and a people of eroding morals and common decency.

And they wonder, Why are these things happening, and why doesn’t someone stand up and put this nation back on course?

The book of Isaiah aptly describes society today. “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah … the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (Isaiah 3:1-3).

More than at any time in America’s history, this nation needs strong leadership. It needs masters in all the fields of arts and sciences to rejuvenate its broken economy. It needs skilled orators who inspire people in the right ways. It needs wise experts to offer counsel. It needs Galileos and Thomas Edisons. It needs Rembrandts and Edwin Hubbles. And it needs Churchills and Roosevelts.

It needs a people who can accumulate real-life accomplishments—not take pride in fantasy world achievements.

Instead, it has a new national pastime of dubious value, and millions of under-skilled adults, increasingly reliant on government welfare, acting like children.

Do you want to break away from such habits and put your life on a more productive path? Order a free copy of our booklet The Seven Laws of Success.

A Young Man’s Glory

A Young Man’s Glory

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A valuable, and often underused, asset.
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

What is the greatest thing about being a young man? What defining quality sets young men apart from everyone else—young women, children, older men—and makes them special?

Proverbs 20:29 tells us: “The glory of young men is their strength.”

The word strength means firmness, vigor and force. It’s referring to a young man’s physical capacity and ability, the might and power of his young body. God gave young men a potential for unmatched physical strength—and for an important reason.

Though this is generally less true today than in the past, life often demands hard physical effort. It can be helpful to have a strong young man around to get things done.

One book I read recently said masculinity is “the collection of all those characteristics which flow from delighting in sacrificing bodily strength for goodness.” That is an incomplete definition, but it contains an important kernel of truth. God built men to bear life’s heavy burdens. A young man with strength, who delights in sacrificing that strength for goodness—lugging that load so women don’t have to—is internalizing important lessons in manliness.

Many boys seem predisposed to want to demonstrate strength. My son, 4 years old, loves to wrestle me in a way my daughters never did. He glories in using his little muscles.

Of course, God gives young men the potential for useful, glorious physical strength—but that strength doesn’t develop automatically. It requires hard work. Lots of it. Those young men who put in the work are rewarded for it: With their God-given capacity, they see faster gains in strength and stamina, and recover faster, than anyone.

God says strength is their glory. But our world today has a lot of young men you could not say that about. Poor diets, sedentary lives, too much screen time, not enough vigorous exercise and work—all have conspired to produce hordes of young men who are soft and weak. Many are self-indulgent in every way, and do not delight in sacrificing anything for anything.

We must encourage our sons to build their strength. God wants them to be strong. He wants their strength to be their glory! He has given them that capacity—but they must develop it. We can help them.

Work!

First, our sons should be accustomed to hard work.

“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). A young man needs to be taught to embrace physical challenges, to exert himself rigorously to get a job done.

I remember working with my dad each summer growing up doing yard work, landscaping and home repairs, and his example made a huge impression on me. He would give me a task—perhaps digging or removing roof shingles—and I would start into it. He would watch for a moment, then step in and demonstrate with forceful, even violent effort. I instantly got the picture that sometimes work required real muscle.

It is good for young men to work outside, digging and hauling, using and building brawn. We fathers should work with them around the house and yard; include them in doing jobs for widows or other needy folks. When our sons are old enough to get a job, we should encourage them to consider something that will challenge them physically over something easy.

We have to be conscientious to ensure our sons learn how to work. “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:4-5).

Exercise!

A second way a young man can build strength is through exercise. Running and sports are important for conditioning, but building strength generally requires specific exercises.

Pushups require no gear. Pull-ups are excellent, and you can find a pull-up bar to mount in a doorframe for $25. Certain gymnastics movements build extraordinary strength and require no special equipment. Weightlifting is great for strength-building, and a used set of weights can be quite inexpensive. (It is important to get instruction on how to do exercises like dead-lifts, squats and presses correctly and safely.)

Building strength through such exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of injuries and dramatically increasing a young man’s capacity in other activities. In addition, it clears the mind and builds confidence.

Most importantly, we must encourage our young men to develop spiritual strength. That means teaching them to remain clean from the world, to build good habits, to master their passions, to resist negative pressures and stand up for what’s right, to earn a reputation for dependability, to consistently make the little decisions that strengthen character.

Our sons need strong faith, strong character, strong will. They need to build and shape the bold, masculine qualities that will enable them to succeed as leaders.

With our help and God’s, our sons will grow to inspire those who come into contact with them to agree, in admiration, with the proverb: that the glory of young men truly is their strength.

Teach Your Teen to Say Hello

Teach Your Teen to Say Hello

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Young people need to learn to talk as well as they can text!
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Most people love social networking. The technology of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter is stupendous, keeping us in contact on our computers and our cell phones. Yet, there can be real problems with these technologies—especially for young people. Why? Because it can lure them into a culture of isolation.

Don’t let this happen to your son or daughter.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that young teens have great difficulty talking one-on-one with each other, yet will send more than 300 text messages back and forth every day. Parents should be alarmed!

Texting has become an integral part of life. Just go into a restaurant and notice how many people are texting—and not talking. You may be shocked.

Why is it that so many of our youth do not know how to say hello, or relate one-on-one with others? The answer is simple: They are not being taught these important skills. This kind of education must begin early in life, and parents must be the educators.

Here is how to ensure your teen will say hello!

Go Against the Flow

Children, tweens (adolescents) and teens need to have a strong relationship with their parents, founded on emotional warmth, touching and verbal communication. That’s far more involved than shoving a cell phone into their hands and saying, “I’ll text you later.”

In March, Good Housekeeping reported that recent medical studies show “the more hours teenagers spend using a computer or watching tv, the weaker their emotional bonds with their parents.” Quoting a 2010 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the article reported that most adolescents average 25 to 30 hours per week watching tv and using computers. Many parents insist they limit screen time, but even their children disagree.

We no longer live in the age when restricting media use means simply turning off the tv in the den. Most tweens and teens have smartphones, laptops, tablets, and iPods with them 24/7. It is growing more difficult to even measure the screen time tweens and teens are getting. Adding up the total time young people spend on their electronic devices, experts believe the numbers are staggering. The average American ages 8 to 18 spends over seven hours a day looking at some kind of screen, a Kaiser Family Foundation study reports. Five years ago, when that same study was conducted, its coauthor Donald Roberts believed children’s screen time couldn’t rise any higher. “But it just keeps going up and up,” he now says.

Don’t let television and gadgets bring up your children.

Your children need your love. They need you to be deeply involved in their lives. This is the first and most important step in the social education process: Children learn how to relate to others from parents who spend a lot of time with them.

If you provide all the latest computer gadgets for your child, you will limit valuable companionship time with your child.

Youths Need Activities

Parents should take the responsibility to provide an affordable, exciting and interesting social life for their children. Youth need to be actively involved with other young people and adults. During a child’s infant years, his or her social life is very simple: playtime with Dad and Mom. When parents play frequently with their children—having fun, laughing, talking and teaching—children develop a positive outlook, social confidence and competence. Children who experience consistent parental involvement are warm and friendly to other children and adults, making the establishment of future relationships easy.

As a child grows through the adolescent years, parents must widen his social experience. This means getting your child involved with other children. What are some of the best social activities to provide your child? Team sporting activities top the list. It is becoming uncommon for many children to be out of doors playing, let alone doing team sports. Too many children are indoors playing computer games, texting their friends or watching television. This is one of the major reasons why so many of our young people are unhealthy and overweight—and why their social lives are equally unhealthy.

Of course, if you want your children to be active, you need to be active yourself.

Encourage your child to participate in team sports. This will open up many practical opportunities for developing social skills. Team sports teach, emphasize and reinforce vital social skills such as cooperation, following directions, leadership, sharing and teamwork, skills that greatly enhance a child’s success in life. When learned early, they are even more valuable.

Other group activities will also help your child socially: marching band, orchestra, chess club, scouting—the possibilities are just about endless.

Choose Friends Wisely

Getting your child involved in social activities does not mean that you can step out of the picture. In fact, when your child gets involved with other children, you will need to be even more involved. This becomes most important in the teen years. When your teen interacts with other teens, challenges and difficulties are sure to arise.

There is no one better for your child to talk things over with than you. All youth, especially teenagers, need to know that their parents have a special interest in them. Give your son or daughter ample time to talk with you about what is going on in his or her life. Give constructive guidance on how to get along with others. Be sure to discuss with your child the personal weaknesses he must overcome in himself. Above all, show him his strengths and how he can build on them. When you show this kind of real interest in your teen, you may be surprised how readily he will turn to you when he needs help.

When teens are actively involved with other teens, parents must provide guidance on how to choose friends wisely. This is so much better when your child knows them in person: Making new friends on the Internet is really a dangerous activity—especially for children, tweens and teenagers. Who has not been thoroughly disgusted by news reports of young people being kidnapped, abused and murdered by a sexual predator posing as another child on the Internet? Parents must monitor carefully all online chatting. Insist that your teenager only make friends with those young people you both know.

Fully involved parents not only know their children, they know their children’s friends. In fact, involved parents help their children choose their friends.

Besides attending your child’s activities, the best way to get to know your child’s friends is to have them into your home for an activity. As you get to know your child’s friends, be sure to teach your child to associate only with teens who have high goals and good character. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33; English Standard Version). Another teen’s bad character could do significant harm to your teen.

Sponsor Coed Activities

One enjoyable in-home activity you could sponsor is a board-game night. If you plan a game night for your tween or teen, provide a mixture of boys and girls. This will ensure that your child learns how to communicate with, relate to and respect members of the opposite sex.

When choosing a game, look for one that will get all the players actively involved. Find a game that challenges the participants to think, to exchange ideas—in other words, to talk. Make sure all cell phones, smartphones, iPods and iPads are turned off and out of sight.

Be sure to give your full attention to any activities involving mixed company. Allowing a group of teenagers to hold activities on their own can lead to real trouble. Drinking, abusing drugs and illicit sex can do far worse than mar an evening—they can ruin an entire life.

During these group activities, take the time to notice how your child relates to his or her peers. Then be sure to talk about the activity when it has ended. If your child was shy, tell her so. If he was domineering, discuss that as well. If your child did not work to get along with everyone present, show how that impacted the other teens. Teach him how to be loving and giving to others. Make it your goal to have your children be respected and liked by their peers—for all the right reasons.

Practice Inside Family

It is important that parents teach their tweens and teens how to greet and converse with adults. Young people must be taught how to be warm and friendly with adults. Many teens today will hardly look at an adult, let alone talk with one.

Your children can practice conversation skills with adults they feel most comfortable with. Sadly, because there is such a criminal element in our society, the safest way to do this is to begin the education process with grandparents, aunts and uncles—adults you know well.

Besides talking about their day with you, your children should be able to discuss the events of their day with other adults. When asked, “How was your day?” your child should be able to respond with more than a one-word sentence. He should be able to engage in small talk, telling what happened to him at school or at a sporting event. He should feel at ease telling another adult what he is excited about. You should encourage your child to talk with other adults often.

Such conversation skills are more valuable than most people realize. They will greatly add to your children’s success in their future careers. They will develop their character and help them grow to become contributing members of society. The stability of any culture hinges on the ability of its people to relate to one another in mature, responsible ways.

The best environment for teaching social skills to children is inside the family. Children cannot learn these vital skills on their own. God charges all parents to nurture their children to become successful members of society (Proverbs 22:6). To become successful, your child has to know how to say hello.