A Warrior's Witness and Love

Retired Dallas Police Officer William W. "Wes" Smith was recently honored for his "faithful Christian witness" during Crossover Dallas 1997 and the "continuing Kingdom implications inspired by this act of love" in the life of Philip Barber.

Barber and Ted Stone, ministry partners, were the guest speakers at both Sunday morning worship services June 15, 2003, at Mimosa Lane Church in Mesquite, Texas. On that occasion, Barber recalled to congregation members the account of Smith's evangelism efforts when the officer was summoned to intervene in a dispute between the former Dallas resident and a neighbor.

Barber remembered. "I clean up well enough, but I was a real mess that day … long hair, tattoos, and drugged out. But he didn't interrogate me. He didn't beat me up. Can you believe it? A Dallas cop! Instead he told me about Jesus! And then he invited me to come to his church to hear a visiting speaker (North Carolina evangelist Ted Stone) the next Sunday.

"At that time I was averse to organized religion, and I really didn't care much for Dallas cops. But I decided to go. I wanted to see where it was that he had gotten a hold of whatever it was that he had gotten a hold of that made him care about me. I was pursued and captured by an active love. I would like to tell you that everything got straightened out that day. But that's not the way it happened. But I did get hope that day. In fact, the hope that leads to salvation was hand delivered to my door in East Dallas by the faithful Christian witness of Wes Smith." And that hope eventually transformed his life.

Stone detailed the remarkable journey that Barber has walked since that first meeting with the law enforcement officer. "Philip eventually made a public profession of faith in Jesus and was baptized at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, N.C., where he is now a member. He finally shook the persistent drug problem that had plagued him for years. He became a vital part of this ministry and shared speaking engagements with me across the country. Philip co-authored two books with me and became a prolific writer for Baptist publications. His church licensed him to preach, and he enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Last summer, we ordained him as a minister of the gospel, and God is using him in so many ways. All of this has been possible because Wes Smith was true to his Lord and took the time to introduce this young man to Jesus!"

Barber and Stone presented Smith with a plaque commemorating the 1997 event. Stone told the audience that "Philip continues to follow the wonderful example set by Officer Smith by sharing his faith with those whom he meets everyday. He has been privileged to lead several lost individuals to find the new life through faith in Jesus as Savior."

Wes Smith was careful to remind those present, "I only did what was required of me as a Christian when I witnessed to Philip. I remember telling Philip that day in June 1997 that even if he did not receive Jesus at that time, he would never be able to shake the truth of what I had told him about the Master. And, I told him, if he did receive Jesus, one day he would do great things for our Lord! And he has!"

Officer Smith's police cruiser was rear-ended by a drunken driver a few months after he shared his Christian experience with Barber, and the officer was seriously injured. He received medical retirement from the department shortly thereafter.

Presenting the plaque to Smith, Barber commented, "Any good that has been salvaged from my life will be credited directly to your account in heaven."



Violent Music Lyrics Increase Aggressive Thoughts

Songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts and emotions and this effect is directly related to the violence in the lyrics, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association (APA). The findings, which appeared in the May issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, contradict popular notions of positive catharsis or venting effects of listening to angry, violent music on violent thoughts and feelings.

In a series of five experiments involving over 500 college students, researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services examined the effects of seven violent songs by seven artists and eight nonviolent songs by seven artists. The students listened to the songs and were given various psychological tasks to measure aggressive thoughts and feelings. One such task involved participants classifying words that can have both aggressive and nonaggressive meanings, such as rock and stick.

To control for factors not related to the content of the lyrics, the violent and nonviolent songs were sung by the same artists and were in the same musical style in three of the experiments. In the two other experiments, the researchers tested the arousal properties of the songs to make sure the violent-lyric effects were not due to differences in arousal. Also, individual personality differences related to hostility were assessed and controlled. The study also included songs with humorous lyrics to see how humor interacted with violent song lyrics and aggressive thoughts.

Results of the five experiments show that violent songs led to more aggressive interpretations of ambiguously aggressive words, increased the relative speed with which people read aggressive vs. nonaggressive words, and increased the proportion of word fragments (such as h_t) that were filled in to make aggressive words (such as hit). The violent songs increased feelings of hostility without provocation or threat, according to the authors, and this effect was not the result of differences in musical style, specific performing artist, or arousal properties of the songs. Even the humorous violent songs increased aggressive thoughts.

The violent-song increases in aggressive thoughts and feelings have implications for real world violence, according to lead researcher Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. of Iowa State University. "Aggressive thoughts can influence perceptions of ongoing social interactions, coloring them with an aggressive tint. Such aggression-biased interpretations can, in turn, instigate a more aggressive response — verbal or physical — than would have been emitted in a nonbiased state, thus provoking an aggressive escalatory spiral of antisocial exchanges," said Dr. Anderson.

The study investigated precursors to aggression rather than aggressive behavior itself. More research is needed, say the authors, to identify the short-term and long-term effects of violent song lyrics. Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality and could indirectly create a more hostile social environment, although the authors say it is possible that the effects of violent songs may last only a fairly short time.

"One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters," said Dr. Anderson. "This message is important for all consumers, but especially for parents of children and adolescents."

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/press_releases/ may2003/psp845960.html



TV Dads — Making a Comeback?

The Parents Television Council says an increasing number of TV shows are featuring families with fathers.

The study looked at more than 100 programs with more than 100 TV kid-characters.

Melissa Caldwell, who directs research at the Council, summarized the findings: "There does seem to be a more concerted effort in the last year to produce programs for families about families producing good shows that families can relate to."

The study doesn't show a dramatic change, but Caldwell says there's a significant improvement in the portrayal of dads over past decades.

"For quite some time there, particularly like in the '80s and early '90s, there was a definite trend where it seemed that Hollywood was trying to push an agenda," Caldwell said.

However, Michael Craven of the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, thinks there's still a problem in the kind of dads television portrays.

"(On television, Dad is) not the leader of the family, not a man who is held in high esteem by his children, his wife, but seemingly the guy that they simply tolerate," Craven said.

Television sells products to kids, and Craven says it could do the same with improved values.

"Certainly, the television and the media has demonstrated to have a profound and powerful influence on kids," Craven said. "It would be naïve, at best, that portrayal of certain values would not influence us as well."

The study shows more than half of TV kids now are in traditional families.

Family News in Focus, June 25, 2003

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