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Loving perfectly

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People come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”  — anonymous

You know, sometimes people can be difficult?  What?  That’s not a shock to you?  Well, how about this:  sometimes YOU can be difficult.  I bet that one was more of a surprise, but not really.  We all have human failings that cause difficulties in our communications with others and with God.  Sometimes, the struggle to deal with difficult people (or people who are difficult in a specific situation) can bring up a few difficulties in one’s self.  It often brings out the ick in us as we struggle with the issue.

Ick # 1:  Depression.

Depression, or the pity party, hits some of us when we face difficulties, and especially difficult people.  Some of you do not struggle with this, but some of you, like me, do.  I don’t like confrontation.  I use it when necessary, but I don’t like it.  This struggle often brings me to a mood dip.  My mood dip can be a shallow dip or a great big gorge, depending on the situation.  I have learned over the years that the depth of the dip depends on me and my attitude.  If I deal with it, the moment passes quickly.  If I dwell on it, I can find myself in over my head.

Ick # 2:  Anger

The Bible says to ‘be angry and sin not’ (Ephesians 4:26), implying that anger is not the main issue.  Anger is a feeling.  Feeding anger leads to sin.  Anger has to be dealt with quickly.  The definition of quickly depends on the person and the situation, but un-dealt-with anger is a raging fire that burns the angry person and anyone in his or her path.  In the case of sinful anger, the root is often pride.  How dare that person say that to me/do that to me/treat me that way!  I don’t deserve this!  We tend to magnify the other person’s offense and minimize our own actions (like how we often do the same to others).  The only solution is to recognize the truth about the situation and then forgive.

Ick # 3:  Pay Back

Have you ever wanted to do to someone what they did to you?  You think they should feel the pain you feel, often with the thought that they would then apologize profusely and not do it again.   This is revenge, and revenge is not sweet!  This tendency to want to hurt when we are hurt.  This tendency just perpetuates the cycle and does not open up the doors of communication; it slams them shut!

I’m sure there’s more ick, but we’ll settle on these three for now.  I have been dealing with all of these issues – internally – and figuring out how to deal with it in a healthy way.  My human nature’s instincts are not of God, and they cannot bring reconciliation and open communication to the situation(s).  It’s funny how we can walk around with this festering sore inside us, while the other people have no clue there’s even a problem.

Are you self-aware?  Have you ever had the ‘ick’ies? Have ow do you deal with difficult people?  How do you respond when you realize you are being difficult to others?

 

God loves  us perfectly, imperfections and all!  How far along are you on the journey to do likewise?   I have a ways to go, but understanding God’s view helps.

 

Our choices make us

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Our very lives are fashioned by choice.  First we make choices.  Then our choices make us.” — Anne FrankSignature of Anne Frank

 

When I saw this quote, I had to sigh because it is so true.  As a human being, I usually look for other reasons why my life/body/relationships/other isn’t as it should be.  But, at some point along the way, I made a choice.  That choice often led to other choices, leading me down a path I never intended to go.

 

 

We can think of those choices as building blocks.  What have you built your life on?  What kind of choices make up your foundation?  Every time we make poor choices, we are adding an unstable block.  Too many of those, and you can see the possibility for disaster.

 

Let’s use health as an example.  Every time I choose to eat something not good for me (on a consistent basis), every time I choose to sit instead of move, every time I go on a bad diet and mess up my metabolism, every time I make bad choices, my bad choices will make up who I am.  I am not saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Let me repeat that:  I am NOT saying that everyone is responsible for all their health issues.  Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control. Cancer happens; accidents happen; we get old; life takes us places we don’t want to go.  But, those things aside, our choices do effect our health.

 

We can apply this principle (sowing and reaping) to other things in our life as well.  Do we choose to be in relationships with people who are not good for us?  Do we choose to get drunk or high and not only harm our bodies but set ourselves up for even worse decisions under the influence?  Do we choose selfish desires over generosity?  This list of questions could go on for a mile or more, but the point is that our choices do make a difference – now and in the future.

 

So, now what?  I’m on this other path, and I want off!  Am I stuck?  While I may not be able to undo everything I have done by my choices, I can begin by making better choices from here on.

 

Bible

Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The first choice I recommend for all is to choose Jesus as Savior and Lord.  With that choice as a foundation, you have a lot of resources at your command.  As you seek to deepen your relationship with your Creator, you will begin to be like Him and make better choices.The second  choice I recommend is spending time in God’s Word.  Proverbs is a great place to find instruction in wise choices.  The entire Bible is a manual in both good and bad choices.

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, "And th...

English: Jonah, as in Jonah 2:10, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”;watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

–Jonah decided to run from the Lord’s calling.  That didn’t work out so well for him.

 

–Noah decided to obey the Lord, despite the taunts of everyone else in the world.  He lived; they died.

 

–Lot choose to pitch his tent toward Sodom and Gomorrah.  While that may have seemed a rather neutral choice, it was anything but.  His eyes were fixed on his own comfort instead of God.  This choice led to major destruction for his family and tainted the rest of his life.

 

Even when our choices seem to have no right or wrong, they send us in different directions.  It is wise to spend time in prayer before making those decisions so we don’t go in the wrong direction and live to regret it.

 

What choices have you made lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related articles

What’s Your Beam?

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Sins of the tongue probably rate as the worst kinds of sins as far as harm to others goes.  Yet, we sit in our churches with blazing tongues, spreading hurt to all with no qualms.  While I believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says it is, I sometimes question the obsession with it that I see among Christians.  It’s like we’ve separated the sins into acceptable and unacceptable categories.  We have our pet sins; those go into the acceptable category.  Then we have the ones that don’t bother us as much; those go into the unacceptable category.

 

Let me tell you no sin is acceptable to God!

 

We are all sinners.  There is none righteous, no not one.  We cannot gloss over some sins and sit in our pews as holier-than-thou whited sepulchres, spewing ungodliness in our judgmentalness.  We ought to do one and not leave the other undone.  We should worry about sin – all sin – our own sin first.

 

The Bible tells us to take the beam out of our own eye first.  Then we will be able to see clearly to help others remove the speck in their eyes.  As long as we have these sins that we cling to and justify and ignore as ‘not so bad’, we will be unable to help others with their sin.  This is the problem when it comes to speaking out against sin.  We do not have the right to do so until we have cleaned up our own back yard.  I am not saying we shouldn’t speak out.  I’m saying we should clean up that beam and then speak out, when we have the right and the ability to help others in the same mess we found ourselves in.

 

We have the answer:  Jesus Christ.  But we besmirch His name when we excuse sin in our own lives while condemning others for theirs.  I have been asking God for over a year to show me the truth about these matters.  He is slowly but surely moving me into His will as He teaches me how to walk with Him and how to know Him as He truly is.  This is a difficult concept for most Christians,  but it is difficult in its very simplicity.  The same is true of salvation.  It is simple, and yet we make it hard.

 

So what beams do you have in your eyes, keeping you from seeing clearly? 

 

In this series, we will talk about the beams we can have and what they look like.  Tune in for more. . . .

 

 

It starts with words, but it doesn’t end there

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“Well done is better than well said.”

 “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Talk is cheap.”

~*~*~

However you say it,

words without action mean nothing;

intentions without follow through mean nothing;

promises without promise keepers mean nothing.

Words are easy; actions are hard.

Say it — Do it — Be it!

~*~*~

Communication begins with words.

It does not end there.

Communication with only words seldom communicates anything,

especially if the words do not match the actions.

At least, it seldom communicates what the speaker hoped.

~*~*~

When we stand behind our words:

Others hear that we mean what we say.

Others hear that we have integrity.

Others hear that this person is trustworthy.

Others hear the intent of the heart,

because it has not been divorced from right action.

~*~*~

God wants us to stand behind our words to Him.

He always stands beside His to us.

Don’t say, “I love You.” when you don’t obey.

Don’t say, “I love Your Word.” when you don’t read it.

Don’t say, “I love Your people.”  when you don’t show compassion.

Don’t say, “I trust You.” when you continue to doubt.

~*~*~

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The words you speak my reflect what is in your heart,   But the actions you take prove what is in your heart.

That sounds like a you problem

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“Sounds like a you problem.”  –Tim Young

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I borrowed this phrase from my middle son.  Did I mention I used to be an enabler?  Hmmmm, well, I was.   People just had to look like they needed something (especially in an emotional/psychological way) and Angie was right there.  They didn’t even have to ask.  I have since reformed after a major crash of a symbiotic relationship with a friend went horribly wrong.  I learned something.  People need to take responsibility for their own problems.  That doesn’t mean I can’t help them.  It means I choose when, where, and how I do so.  I don’t put myself and others at risk to jump to the rescue when the person needs to learn how to rescue him/herself.  Painfully, I realized that taking on other people’s problems wasn’t good for either of us.  Quitting was difficult as well, especially for those used to having me say yes all the time.  But, they got over it and so did I.

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Feel free to use the phrase, because it works very well at deflecting those who want to make  their problem yours.  My grandchildren hear this phrase a lot.  One granddaughter likes to hang off me and say, “I’m bored!”  I say, “Sounds like a you problem.”   I may suggest some things she can do, but my point is to teach her how to entertain herself.  “I’m not the entertainment committee.” works here too.  It’s amazing how life changes when you allow other people to have their ‘you problem’ without making it a ‘me problem’.

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Have you ever taken on someone else’s problem either by helping them too much or by worrying about them?  Do you try to get others to take on your problems?  Do you get angry when they don’t?  Do you recognize the dangers of enabling?

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Then, a week or so ago, I was in prayer mode.   Thinking about someone else and praying for their issues, thinking about something they do that bothers me.  Then, I hear this (inaudible) voice saying, “Sounds like a you problem.”  Hmmmmmmmm.   OK, God, I get it.   The other person didn’t have a problem, I did.  I wanted to make it that person’s problem because that would put all the ‘happy place’ back into my life.  However, just because something bothers me does not make it a problem for others.   I hate it when God uses my own words to smack me up side the head and make me take a hard look at myself.  I’m so glad He does it though.

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Do you try to make your issues into other people’s problems?  “I would never….” “If only they’d….”  “They need to keep their child in check….”  That’s not how you do it…..”  Have these or other similar words ever crossed your mind or your lips?  Can you recognize the difference between a YOU problem and a ME problem?   How do you set boundaries between you and me problems?  Do you allow yourself to be guilted into saying yes?

Ten ways to love: Keeping promises

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The last of our 10 ways to love series is:   Promise without forgetting.

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.     Proverbs 13:12

 

Have you ever made a promise and then forgot to fulfil it?  Maybe your intentions were good, but busyness got in the way.  Has anyone ever made you a promise and not kept it?  This reminds me of a post over on M3 by Anne Marie Dwyer called “The thought does not count“.  When it comes to promises, the thought does not count!

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Sure, son, I’ll take you to the ball game.—–Sorry, son, I had to work overtime—-translation:  I got busy at work and forgot.

I’ll pick up the dry cleaning on my way home from work—–Sorry, I forgot—-translation:  Sorry, I forgot because I was thinking about something else.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

I’m sure you’ve all been on both sides of the equation.  It’s easy to promise and not so easy to keep the promise.

When someone goes through a certain mood cycle, this person will promise about anything.  The promises made during this time, while well meant, are worthless because follow through is non-existent.  The promises are to convince me to let her have her way.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

Think teen:

I’ll be home by 10:00; I promise! —  You can trust me; I promise! — I can’t wait because I love you; I promise! . . .

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

When someone makes a promise and then doesn’t do it, it “makes the heart sick.”  I have been there a few times when someone made a promise and then it never materialized.  This is multiplied exponentially when it comes to children.  Since they tend to hear the word “maybe” as, “Sure I promise I’ll do that,” they may need to learn the difference between those kind of ‘promises’ and the real thing.  However, they trust; they think people keep their promises; they are devastated when those promises are not kept.

 

Saying I love you seems simple, but it’s very difficult.  After all,  love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  (I Corinthians 13)

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

So, if you want to show love to another:

Listen without interrupting.

Speak without accusing

Give without sparing

Pray without ceasing.

Answer without arguing.

Share without pretending.

Enjoy without complaint.

Trust without wavering.

Forgive without punishing.  and

Promise without forgetting.

♥x♥x♥x♥x♥

No one loves perfectly outside of God, but how do you hold up?  Have you learned how to truly love?

Ten ways to love: Forgiving without punishment

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This post overlaps the last one a bit, but we will take it down a different path.  Number 9 on our list of ten ways to love  is:

Forgive without punishing.”

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.   Colossians 3:13

 

"Forgiveness 4" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 4” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt you; it is for you.

Forgiveness is not saying “it’s ok”; Forgiveness is saying I choose not to hold it against you.

Forgiveness clears out the icky stuff–the stuff that will lead to bitterness.

 

The real thing about this statement, however, is to forgive without punishment.   This kind of forgiveness is not forgiveness at all.

 

Forgiveness without punishing involves:

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

Not holding it against the person.

Not bringing it up every time you get angry (or at all).

Not using passive aggressive digs to make the person suffer for what they did.

Not saying, “I’ll forgive you, but. . . .”

Not holding on to it like a dog with a bone and using it to bash the other person.

 

When God forgives us of our sin, there is no longer any repercussion (eternal) for our sins.  Jesus paid the price and took the punishment.  Now, when God looks at the believer,  He sees His Son and His righteousness.  It is no longer laid to our account.  That’s the way forgiveness should be with us.

 

A few other remarks:

Forgiveness does not require the other person asking for forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not require staying with an abuser or trusting the untrustworthy.

 

Do you forgive without punishing?  Are you a grudge holder?   Have you felt the freedom of true forgiveness — for the self or for others?  Do you have anything to add?

 

Ten ways to love: Contentment with Gratitude

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Our 7th way of Loving is:  Enjoy without complaint.

“14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”   Philippians 2:14

 

►I love being with my family, but. . . .

►I would like working in the nursery, if. . . .

►This dessert is so good, but it would be better if you just put a little . . . .

 

The following were taken off of facebook statuses.  Sorry if I got any of you – actually these posts are from none of my known followers on this blog 🙂

 

Complaint Department Grenade

Complaint Department Grenade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Why can some people read in a moving vehicle and others can’t? Not fair!”      Do you complain that life is not fair?

“woke -up with a headache about 3 this morning, not a good way to begin a vacation.”  Do you let little things (or big things) mar things like vacations?  Some people don’t get vacations.

“Some people really try my patience & sometimes I think they do it on purpose!!”   “Really hate game playing :-(“   Do you let other people steal your joy?

“im so totally stressed out… Havent left the house in like two days because we have no car. Broke as h***. Im so misrible. Blah”  Some people don’t have a house; are you grateful for what you have, or do you focus on what you don’t have?

“Heading out the door for work….yuck..”  Not everyone has a job and many would be grateful to have a job, even one that wasn’t perfect.

 

Of course, we all feel this way at times.  We pursue perfection, but none of us will achieve it.

Complaint_Department_please_take_a_number

Complaint_Department_please_take_a_number (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point is to start looking at what you already have with a grateful heart and enjoy it.   As a person who can look at the tiny mar instead of the overall picture, I have to watch myself with this.  There’s always a way to make something “better” or “less worse” (grammarians – is that correct?), but why not just enjoy what is?

I can see this with my grandchildren (and with my kids).  They love the simple things, but I have a tendency to want to tweak something that doesn’t need tweaked.  Just hanging out is good.  They don’t really need (nor should I want to teach them that) entertained.  I’m learning, and I’ve cut way back, but still have a way to go.  Time together is premium and precious — no matter what.

When we love, we learn to enjoy without complaint.   Complaint is a form of saying “it’s not fair”.  It implies the complainer deserves better, and it makes the person appear ungrateful at best.  I imagine God even rolls His eyes at times as His children gripe about perceived unfairness.   The story of the Israelites wandering in the desert gives a great example.   If human’s were God, I don’t think they would be near as patient as He is.

 

Of course, I know my readers would never do this, so what are some ways you keep positive and grateful no matter what?

Count your blessings!!!!

 

 

Do you have a blender family?

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I chose the lesson in Ministry, even though it was the midweek lesson, because I wanted to get them talking about ministering to one another.  As a group of 7th – 8th graders (no 9th at this time),  you can imagine what they can be like at times.  Everyone is fair game, and they often think it’s funny to trash one another.  When we have newer people come in, it really becomes a problem.  Each year we work on this and make progress.  Then the year turns over and new students come up while others leave and the whole process starts over again.  I expect that, but I want them to learn to love and minister to one another.  I want them to look beyond certain behaviors and recognize that the disruptive student may have all kinds of things going on in his life.  I want them to welcome even the unlovely into the class.  I want them to become aware of ministry opportunities right at home, and I want them to see others as Jesus sees them.  I want them to get that vertical relationship going so they can better their horizontal ones.  I want….  I think God wants this too, but, like God, I recognize that it’s all a process.  I am content with baby steps at this stage, but I always want to be pushing for more growth while I have them.  They are the ‘plants’ I am responsible for watering and feeding once a week (and beyond).

 

I’m not sure I’ve ever put that in words quite that way before.  As I said, this is a goal, but I would love to see progress in their spiritual (and other) lives before they move on to the next stage of the game – those high school years — gulp!

 

That said, my overarching thing was this:   Why is it so difficult to minister to family (or “family”)? 

 

Now for a short leap into a different aspect of the topic.  My daughter and I took my husband out for dinner tonight for Father’s Day.  As we’re all sitting there, family stuff happens.  You know what I mean, the tongues come out and feelings get hurt.  We don’t mean to hurt one another, but how often we do!!!  We are so kind to strangers, but not those we are close to.  What’s up with that?  {Anne and Ron over at Freedomborn posted a great poem on this subject:  Our Family)

 

Step into my parlor. . .
(original image from morguefile.com)

This is the image that popped in my mind as I listened to the chatter at our table (and of a family sitting near us).  Our families are dumped in the blender.  Our tongues are the blades.  We get together and start slicing, often in the name of “just kidding” or trying to get a laugh, and soon there’s blood and hurt feelings everywhere.  Of course that leaves us with open wounds, maybe not even caused by the person in question, and we add defensiveness to the mix.  I hope your family is not like this, but I’m guessing there are moments (or certain members) when this happens.  It leads to more than hurt feelings.  It leads to broken relationships (horizontal and vertical).  We often justify it or pass it off as just family, but it is wrong.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about the tongue:

  • James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. James 1:25-27 (in Context)
  • James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! James 3:4-6 (in Context)
  • James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:5-7 (in Context)
  • James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7-9 (in Context)

 

 

I found this on facebook, and thought it fit well with this topic. 

Back to our original topic.  While my students may jostle each other and things like that at times (esp. boys), the real problem is in the tongue.  My own tongue is not innocent either.  No matter how hard I try to bridle it (or surrender it to God to bridle), it still sometimes slips out of it’s harness and strikes.

 

My point:

Part of ministry is in learning to minister kindness in our words to others.  It’s allowing God to control our tongues and thinking before we speak.  It’s remembering that it’s pretty hard to meet someone’s need when we’re stabbing them with the blade of our tongue.  Kindness is something we should use EVERYWHERE.  Not just with strangers, kindness, encouragement, healing words work with those we are familiar with and love too.

 

Do you minister with kindness even to your family or those you are close to?  Is your tongue a run-a-way blender blade, wreaking havoc on those in it’s path?  Do you have ways that help you remember to be kind to all others?  Anyone have any good teaching ideas for this age group?        For those who write – do your words spread healing and ministry or is your pen like a double edged sword?  Have you struggled with this in the past and found success in learning to minister with kindness, even in your speech or written word?

 

I know none of my readers have problems with this issue, but I’m guessing you all know people who do, so you can understand this post 😀

Blessings and a healing tongue to all of you  .  .   .

What are you kissing?

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Have I ever mentioned one of the reasons I do not like dogs?  They are soooooo cute!  But they are also really disgusting!  My sister’s dog (a big dog in a little dog’s body) is a case in point.  She goes outside and rubs/rolls/revels in whatever she can find that smells to high heaven.  Bath?  Only works till she gets done and out the door.  She also likes to lick people in the face, and lick herself in unmentionable places.  Many people think nothing of that, but I am not one of them.  I just can’t deal.

The same should be true of Christians when it comes to sin.  Do you go out and ‘rub/roll/revel’ in the dirt of sin?  Do you call others to do it with you?  Is the stench of sin clinging to you?

This article by Dr. Stephen Davey says it better than I ever could.  I hope you’ll drop over and read it.  Besides a laugh or two, it’s a great point.

Dirty Kisses

What have you been kissing???

Wild Pigs, Everglades, FL, USA

Wild Pigs, Everglades, FL, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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