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Ten Ways to love: Complete trust

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Number 8 on our countdown is:   Trust without wavering.

{Love} 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”     Corinthians 13:7

 

THE HORIZONTAL:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have absolute, unwavering trust placed in us or placed in another?  Actually, we have that when we’re born.  We have no lack of trust.  We completely, totally, and abidingly trust our parents (and anyone else).  We don’t pop out wondering if our parents will take care of us.  We have to learn not to trust.  How sad is it that it doesn’t take long to learn?  Humans let us down, some on purpose and some just by being humans.  Add in the sin nature and the fact that our brains and perceptions have a few years to grow, and it’s inevitable that we learn to mistrust.

We get hurt; we expect others to hurt us too.  Sadly, we then contribute to mistrust in others.  Someone I know has been hurt by an ex-girlfriend (no, not my husband) and frequently brings it up in his new relationship.  He sabotages the current relationship because of the hurts of the past.  It turns into a vicious cycle.  I know I gave my husband a lot of grief in the early years because I had a trust problem.  My trust issues had nothing whatsoever to do with him, but he paid the price, as did I.

"Forgiveness 3" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 3” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lack of trust does not show love at all, because real love trusts.  Real love doesn’t hold others responsible for the breach of trust given by others.  Real love FORGIVES.  Forgiveness is not for the person forgiven, it is for the forgiver.  In fact, the only way to keep from becoming a person who can’t trust is to forgive those who hurt us.  It frees us to trust again.  People usually don’t mean to breach your trust, just as you don’t mean to do it to others.  When someone repeatedly breaches your trust, forgiveness does not say “it’s ok.”  Forgiveness doesn’t mean staying with someone who abuses you or continuing to trust someone who can’t be trusted.  What forgiveness says is this:  “I do not have to let you tarnish every other relationship I have.  I can free myself to love and trust.  You will not change who I am!”

Do you allow your hurt to keep you from trusting?

 

THE VERTICAL:

And what about God?  I used the word abidingly above on purpose.  If you look up unwavering in a thesaurus, you will find the word abiding there.

John 15 talks about us abiding in Him.  He is the vine, and to abide in Him, we must remain connected to that vine.  We can’t connect and disconnect, trust and then not trust.  We must remain connected, sucking up the nutrients only the vine can give.  When we abide in Him, we grow.  When we don’t, we wither and die.

This post is well-timed.  I see so many who struggle with trust, and a couple in particular right now.  After all, we all have people in our lives that let us down.  Those who have endured abuse have even more reason not to trust.  God is not human.  How often do we project human failings on Him, though?

We project the sins of the dad on the Father.  We blame Him for evil we bring upon ourselves.  We pout and blame when we don’t get our way.  We allow our trust to waver.

We also look at our own untrustworthy nature.   BUT:  God is, was, and always will be faithfuleven when we are unfaithful.  II Timothy 2:13

"Forgiveness" by Carlos Latuff.

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

says, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Thank you God that you are faithful, even when I am unfaithful.  When I struggle with trust, You hang in there with me and teach me to trust again.  I want to faithfully abide in You, and yet I am human.  Father, I choose trust.  I choose to love like I’ve never been hurt.  I choose to cling to you as the Vine, the Nurturer, the very Life Blood.  Bless your holy Name!

Do you abide in Him?  Do you have trust issues that need resolved?  Can you love like you’ve never been hurt?  Do you have anything to add?

 

The Weaver

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THE WEAVER

My life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oftimes he weaveth sorrow,

And I know foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillfun hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned

~ Author Unknown

~*~

~*~

In cleaning out my dad’s room, I found this old poem in one of his books. It was like finding an old friend. This poem is one of my favorites, because it reminds me that I am not God, I am not the center of the universe, and I am not all-knowing, all-seeing, or all-powerful!  To seek to understand everything that happens in my life is a fool’s task.  God is the only one who sees His plan from beginning to end.  I do not.  I must trust that, when I do see the final tapestry, it will take my breath away in its beauty, its complexity, and its rightness.  If you’ve ever looked at the underside of a tapestry, you will know what I mean.

~*~

 Today I challenge you to look at your beliefs, and see if you are looking (and critiqueing) by the underside of your tapestry (or anothers).

Life is Hard

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Many times I have heard people say, “God is a crutch for weak people”

I say, “DUH!”

What those people do not understand is that we are all weak!

As human beings in all our sin nature and humanness, we are broken.

 

 

If you had a broken leg, especially if severely broken, you would not try to walk around without a cast, a crutch, or whatever you needed to get around.  You would think someone crazy who attempted to walk around with a broken leg.  And yet, this person crawls around, broken but unable to see it.  This person laughs at those who have their leg set and cast, walking around with crutches or in a wheel chair.

~*~

Life Is Hard

~*~

Life is hard; why do it alone,

Standing hard against the wind?

“God helps those…” you often say

For yourself you try to fend.

~*~

We are weak, but He is strong

Not about defeat, but true.

We have a need that He can meet,

When we allow Him to.

~*~

He gives us grace to carry on,

Always taking the larger share

Of the yoke that we must carry

And each burden we must bare.

~*~

When storms approach, His arms

Wrap ’round to take the brunt

Of all the crashing wind and waves:

Those things wich do affront.

~*~

We feel the wet and cry, “Why me?”

Not knowing what He’s done

Saving us from much worse things

When hard times have begun.

~*~

Life is hard; why do it alone?

For all is better shared.

Yoke up with Him, lean hard-

With Him forever paired.

~*~

a poem by Angela Masters Young  copyright 3-29-2012

 

What are some of the things people lean on instead of God?  (i.e. addictions, …)

Lean hard my friends!

 

 

I’ll do it later

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piston pump of a soap dispenser/ de: Kolbenpum...

Image via Wikipedia

I have repeatedly asked myself a question for ages some time now and more than once a day.  The question is . . .

How many times am I going to get hit in the chest with soap from the dispenser before I fix the clogged dispenser tube?

Not a hard job, right?  So why do I think about it, even while I have the water running to do the job, and still walk away?  Laziness? Procrastination?

Well, I can no longer ask myself this question, because I finally did it.  I removed the top, ran it under hot water to melt the soap clogging it, squirted it a few times to make sure, replaced the top, and squirted a couple more times for good measure.  Even with all the squirting factored in, the job took about three minutes of my time.

So why am I painting you a picture of my domestic moment?

—-

An In-N-Out Burger 8x8 animal style for the ar...

Image via Wikipedia

First thought:  I wonder if my arteries look like that?

How often do we consistently do or not do things that effect our health?  We get a report from the doc that our cholesterol is high, the blood pressure is up there, the spare tire is bigger than the entire car, . . . .

How often do we think, “I’ll do something about that later?” as we allow the problem to get worse and worse.

How often do we believe we will be the exception to the rule?  –up until that moment when something serious goes wrong?

I am not a health nazi.  I believe there is a lot af fad bad advice out there, and too many people jumping on the ‘if only’ bandwagon, the cycle of effort, failure, depression, more effort. . . .  That said, however, there are things we know will harm us and steps we can take to prevent or help a physical problem.  We know and yet procrastinate.  This is dangerous.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Image via Wikipedia

—-

Second thought:   What about clogged emotions?

How often do we stuff something back because we don’t want to hurt others, fear the consequences of honesty, or any of the many other excuses we use for doing so?  Stuffed anger leads to bitterness.  Stuffed love leads to despair.  I am not saying it is appropriate to just blurt out your feelings or emotions in every situation, but there are other ways to deal with emotions besides stuffing them.  We can journal for one.  The point is that if we continue to ignore emotions and not deal with them, we get clogged.  Then, just as the soap shot out past the clog to get all over me, our emotions shoot out and land all over everyone around.  This too is dangerous.

—-

Mental floss: clear the clogs

Third Thought:  Mental clogs?  What are mental clogs?  I would say this harks back to the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ adage.  We put bad, worthless, or harmful things into our mind and they become clogged to the good things.  Just as pornography has been shown to change a person’s brain over time, many other things, imbibed consistently, change how we think.  From there it changes how we believe and then how we act.  When we act out our new thought patterns and beliefs, our actions burst out all over others.  This too is dangerous.

—-

Question mark in Esbjerg

Question mark in Esbjerg (Photo credit: alexanderdrachmann)

Fourth Thought:  Can we be spiritually clogged?

Yes, we can.  If we have never met God on a personal basis (known in my circles as salvation), we are clogged.  If we are not spending time with God, not spending time in the Word, in prayer, and fellowshipping with others, we are clogged. It is only as we apply the heat of the Word, prayer, felowship, and time in intimacy with God that we can unclog ourselves spiritually.  Spiritual clogs are probably the most dangerous of all.

Are you clogged?  Do you know you’re clogged and yet put off doing anything about it?  Do you know why?  What are some other things that clog us or unclog us?  What clogs you?

 

Stuffing it in

I can’t let it go

my rage presses

fast at my heart

I fear the

consequences

will show

the ugliness

clogging me up

Disrespect unchallanged

and back turned

on God

these and more

keep me

from my best

when I turn

and surrender

let it out

let it go

then I find

myself open

to all.

CB: Why me mentality

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All of us know people who struggle with this.  Some of us may be one of these people.  All of us struggle with it at times.  This mentality looks around and sees what is going on with others.  The person then looks at his or her own life and makes comparisons.  In the comparing, his or her own life usually comes up lacking in some way.  We could also call this the “grass is greener” effect.

Valentines day was a good example of how this mentality can pervade one’s thinking.   No honey bun for Valentine’s Day?  Poor you, sitting there all alone with no one to say ‘I love you’ and give you sappy presents.  Your loneliness must be harder to bear than that of anyone else’s.  {Sorry if this hits anyone in the solar plexis, but I had to pick something for my examples.  We’ll get to the others later.}

 

Lies believed by the alone at Valentine’s Day:

►No one cares about me.

►Valentine’s Day is for lovers; if you don’t have a love, I am a loser.

►This day was created just to point out how alone I am.

►Other people’s joy somehow effects me by comparison.

►If no one reminded me that I am alone, I wouldn’t feel this pain and loneliness.

 

Truths to counter the lies:

►It is definately not true that no one cares for you.  [God and probably at least a few people care deeply about you.]

►It’s also not true that others don’t care that you hurt.  They may be looking at the outer package and your inner hurt may not be as evident as you think.

►Valentine’s Day is for love, true, but not just a lover type of love.  {Regardless of the reason it was created, it has become a time to spend lots of money so the stores can make a profit.}

►Just because it is a special day that brings joy to some, their joy has nothing to do with you.  Comparing to others, especially when you don’t know their circumstances (only seeing the surface), brings two things:  envy or pride.  Which one depends on which side you are on.

►Should others go around with mopey faces all day just because you are lonely on this day?  Would that really make you feel better?   (add bible verse about sharing joy sorow********)

►If Valentine’s Day makes you sad, it’s not because of what happens to other people on this day; it’s because of what you’re telling yourself/dwelling on on this day.

 

 

 

Seeing beyond the surface:

There are others hurting just as bad or worse out there.

► Consider the one whose Valentine has left to give valentines to another.

►Consider the one who finds out that her Valentine is giving valentines to another while giving Valentines to him/her as well.

►Consider the one who lies beside his/her Valentine, but is just as lonely if not more, because the love has died or they’ve grown apart.

►Consider the person who has never had a Valentine to remember.

►Consider the one who has just lost his/her Valentine to a senseless death.

 

As always, I could continue, but I hope this is enough to make the point:

We cannot compare our insides to someone else’s outsides. ~unknown

~*~

What to do

When we catch ourselves looking at the grass over the fence or thinking “why me?” or “why not me?”, what can we do?

1.  Stop comparing our insides with other’s outsides.  We have no idea what’s really going on in that house.

2.  Look at what we’re telling ourselves.

3.  Change what we’re telling ourselves.

4.  Do something for someone else.

 

I bet there are other hurting people out there, even in your world.  The best way to turn a “why me” into a “why not me” (who am I not to have problems) is to do something for someone else.   Do you know people in a nursing home who have lost their Valentine to death (if they ever had one) and have no one to brighten their day?  Go visit and take some time to give them joy for a while.  Do you know a recently divorced person or someone who is going through marital issues?  Send them a card to say you’re thinking of them/praying for them.  Do it anonymously.  There are so many people out there who would love to have love shown to them on this day and every day.  If you want to cut your own pain, give the love you so desperately want away.  I guarantee you it will return to you a hundred-fold.

When you find yourself falling into the world’s biggest pity party, go look deeply into the insides beyond other’s outsides.  You will feel better about yourself and your life.  Life is hard for everyone, and we should not feel that we get all the pain while others don’t or that we deserve better.  From a Christian standpoint – we all deserve Hell.  Anything we have above that is a gift and a blessing.

 

How to get love:  give it away!

                                       As always, I appreciate your feedback.  This was not meant to hurt anyone, it was just an example and not about anyone specific. 

The challenge:  Have you ever shared love and found out you felt differently about your own hurts?  If you have share the story.  You may either share in the comment box or on your own blog and leave a link back in the comment box.

If you have not done this, or would like to do it again, feel free to try it and share with us in the same way as above.

Sharing love is a great perspective changer – agree?  -disagree?

If you post a link in the comments, I will multiply the love by sharing 🙂

Communication Busters: He said, she said

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If you have a significant other, I’m absolutely sure you’ve experienced this.  He thinks she said and she thinks he said and neither one has a clue.  It reminds me of a Friends episode in which Chandler and Monica were discussing their plans.  Phoebe was writing their conversation down in a book.  Later when they realized that he thought they were to meet at one time and she thought another, Phoebe whipped out the book and said she knew it all the time, reading their former conversation to them.

If only we had a replay button (or a Phoebe)!

As my husband and I grow older, this happens more frequently.  I think it has something to do with his hearing loss.  Of course my daughter is only 24 and she only hears the first thing I say and nothing more (discussed in a previous post).  In other words, I could be wrong about the reason, but it still seems to happen to us — a LOT!

A night out starts at Best Buy

Tonight, Brian and I found ourselves alone and so decided to go out and do something.  Dates with my husband do and always have included shopping.  I’m not that big a fan, but tonight he was shopping for me, so I was down with it.  We went by Sam’s Club to grab a price check on an IPad (my promised Christmas gift from, you know – last month).  Armed with comparison information, my ever bargain-hunting husband and I headed to BestBuy to check out IPads.  That went well; questions were answered;  my husband is now thinking it over to make a decision at some later date (hopefully soon) as to which one is the best deal.  After 29 years, I would expect nothing less and have learned patience.

 

Getting our grub on

We then head to O’Charley’s and have a nice dinner.  We both had fish, he talapia and I fried something white.  It was good and we had a nice time, discussing various things that did not include our grown children or our grandchildren.  A fun time was had by all.  Even the server left happy.

 

Wally World is waiting

The next leg of our trip was to WalMart.  I needed to get some things, and we were in that area.  I am getting to the point; hang in there.  I had left my phone at home (that’s never good), so my husband said, “If we lose one another, lets meet at the front.”  I agree and we go our separate ways with our separate lists.  I pick up my items, cruise the clearance racks (my kind of shopping) and head to the food section for a couple things.  We meet at the vegetables, and he puts his stuff in my cart and asks if I’m done.  I tell him almost and say, (I swear I said this) “I’m almost done so if you want to go on out to the car, I’ll be out in a minute.”  I turn to go find my cinnamon and cereal, and he disappears.

 

 

 

He said, she said

Here it comes:  He was still  on “meet at the front”; I was on “go on out”.  He disappeared and was nowhere to be found, so I checked out and went to the car (well, it’s a van).  Anyway, no Brian!  I go back in (no keys or we’d have been there all night with me sitting in the van and him looking for me) and sit waiting, talking to my favorite WalMart greeter, Joyce.  She even peeks around looking for him.  I finally see him and holler his name.  He gives me “the look”, takes his stuff through the register and we get to the van.

The first words after the van doors close

He starts with, “I told you to meet at the front.  I was waiting and waiting and starting to get upset.”

I come back with:  “I told YOU that I was almost done and would meet you at the van.”

He:  “You did not!”

Me: “Yes I did!”

He:  “Well I didn’t hear you.”

We agreed thereafter not to argue about what I did or did not say.  The point was that he did not hear me, and so misunderstanding ensued.

 

 

 

What’s a gal to do?

So what do you do in a world where these kind of misunderstandings happen?  Do I question him after every statement to make sure he heard and understood exactly what I said?  Hearing and understanding are two entirely different things by the way.  Does he need to question me and make sure I understood everything he says?  Well, that’s one way, but somehow, misunderstandings still happen.

 

 

How about this

“This” is the stuff of sitcoms and comedy.  It happens to all of us.  The problem (well most of the time) is not that these things happen, it’s what we tell ourselves when it happens.  In this particular scenario, I didn’t get overheated, but I’ve had my moments.  But, my husband, exhausted after a day of work and an evening with me (yes, I’m exhausting), was filling his head with all kinds of lovely things about me as he stood waiting for me to show.  By the time we found each other, laughing about it was not a possibility.

What happens then

At this point, he was not very happy with me.  He was even more tired than before and not in the mood to listen to my excuses. {Admit it; you’ve been there.}  What happens is an argument about who said what, who did what, who was wrong, etc.  One or both may wind up feeling insulted or angry that they are impuned.  Does this change what happened?  Nada.  Does this help keep it from happening the next time?  Maybe, but I’m going to say Nada.  Does it help he and she to have warm fuzzy feelings for each other?  Nada.  I’m not saying the issue should not be discussed, especially if it is a chronic problem, but getting hot under the collar and blowing it out of proportion does nothing to facilitate communication between two people.

 

 

 

It is best to:

►Beware of what you’re telling yourself during the misunderstanding.

►Beware what you say to the the other person after the misunderstanding.

►Count to 10 or whatever you do to calm down, then rethink what you want to say.

►Be nice!

►Failing all that, write a blog post about it.  Oh, no, that’s just me.

Has this ever happened to you?  What happened?  How did you resolve it?  Do you lean more toward having a good laugh or strangling your mate in these situations?  What advice would you give to others (like maybe newlyweds) about these inevitable misery misunderstandings mishearings?  How do you make sure you are really heard?  Is that even possible?  Got any great stories you want to share?  The comment box is yours 🙂

It’s all about the heart, Part III

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In case you missed them:   All about the heart, Part 1    All about the heart, Part II

Often my “Christian” posts are a part of my study for teaching my 7th, 8th and 9th graders in Sunday School at my Church.  The same is true with Part I of this series, and follows the posts about feeding the flesh and purity.  Today I used this blog loosely as my lesson.  You see last week we learned about Purity – what it is, why it’s good for us, etc..   After class, the students were all in the hall listening to a joke that was questionable.  I’m not sure they even understood why it was questionable or why doing this right after a lesson on purity would bother their SS teacher.

The trial of “Joke Teller”   

Our first activity of the day was to put “Joke Teller”, a former student who can handle being an object lesson, on trial.  We talked about what would make the joke “wrong”.  They immediately understood that it’s off color nature was not good.  It took a while to pull out of them, however, that the joke uses the Lord’s name in vain twice.  (See the 10 Commandments)  Once they understood what that meant, it was easy to lead them to a guilty verdict, not just for “Joke Teller” but for themselves too for listening (and retelling).  The joke may not seem such a big deal to many, but it was an object lesson opportunity this teacher could not pass up!

Line? What line?

Where’s the line?

For our next activity, we divided into three teams.  Each team had yellow electrical tape on the end of a table as close to the end as possible.  The goal was for each team to compete to be the one to get their car closest to on the tape without going over.  The three winners then faced off for an over-all winner.  We then discussed part of the ways we push disobedience (as per Part I) where we try to go as close to ‘the line’ as possible or even push our toe over it.  One point I wanted them to understand was that when we walk on the line all the time, it’s very easy to fall over the line.

If you can’t see me, I’m not guilty

Our next activity involved a game where a student was blindfolded and placed in a chair.  One at a time, other students were given a chance to try to steal a treasure from under the chair without

undercover

getting caught.  The seated person could use hands and feet and movement to try to tag anyone sneaking around them.  If a ‘thief’ was tagged, he or she became the owner of the treasure.  Then we broke down the next items on the list of ways we disobey (per Part I) by sneaking and thinking that “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”.   We used driving as an example (even though none of my students are drivers yet).  I asked them, “What happens when a person is driving along (over the speed limit or not) and they spot a police car?”  Answer:  “Slow down!”  Question 2:  “What does the person do after they get over the hill and away from the police?”  Answer:  “Speed back up!”  {Come on, you know you’re all guilty 😉 }

 

Integrity is what we do when no one is looking

Too many of us fall into the mentality that our ‘hidden’ faults aren’t that bad.  One danger here, aside from believing we can cross the line if no one sees us, is that we often tend to judge others for their failings without considering the extent of our own, especially the ones no one else knows about.

Did it ‘stick’?       

I get it already!

I sure like to think it did this time.  Games are a great way to get across to young people as object lessons.  At the end, as I was winding down and bringing them to the conclusion of the lesson, the students each had two coins in front of them they were not allowed to touch (fake ones).  The idea was for others to try to take the other’s coins without getting caught.  That didn’t happen, but as we talked, a couple students started to do/say something not right, and I saw them thought-check themselves.  For me – that’s a win!

I wanted to share the purpose of some of my recent posts for those who care to know.  You each get to make your own choices and suffer your own consequences.  I hope we’ve all learned something as we’ve walked through this together.

How important is integrity to you?

What are some other ways to show these concepts?

Do you think “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”?

What do you think of this series and is there anything you would like to see here?

Are there other questions or concepts you feel I could explore with my class?

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

Starvin’ Marvin’

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Have you ever wondered why we fall into the same old patterns of behavior – even tough we don’t want to and are determined not to?  The previous post gives us part of the answer – feeding the “flesh” makes it grow in its ability to control you.   The other part of the answer is to not just stop feeding, we also have to take an active role in starving it.

Garbage In

One of the first ways we starve our flesh is by stopping the inflow of garbage that comes in through our eyes and ears.  That movie that tempts you to look at porn or fantasize about someone other than the spouse, that song that spews foul words,  that game that causes us to spend too much time away from our loved ones or yelling at them to get out of the way or be quiet, that computer site that also eats our time and adds its own temptations.

What makes it garbage?

All of the above and more are not inherently bad things.  There are good movies, songs, video games, books, magazines, plays, television shows, etc., that are not garbage, but cause us to neglect more important things.  Maybe one thing is not your area of temptation and has no effect on you, but stymies your brother.  The important thing is too look objectively at the things we allow into our lives from the aspect of it’s content and what it does or does not cause us to do or not do.  Some things are automatically on this list from a biblical perspective, but others depend on how you use them.

Good better best.

An old saying my Mother used to use says,  “Good, better, best, put it to the test, till your good is better and your better is best.”  Some things are not wrong in and of themselves, but often we spend too much time on the good and miss out on the best.  If your time would be better spent on something else, this item needs to go on your garbage list.

Garbage out, now what?

It’s not enough just to take out the bad or stop putting garbage in. We must also start putting in the good if we want to conquer the flesh.  There’s a saying that talks about nature abhoring a vacuum.  That works here too.  If you leave an empty space, your enemy will soon find a way to fill it.  So along with taking out the garbage and cleaning house, we must bring good things into our ‘house’ to replace those bad things we threw out.

It works for all

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

If you are one of my non-Christian readers, this concept will help you as well, although the power of the Holy Spirit in the committed Christian goes a long way toward fighting fleshly desires.  The point is that replacing that garbage with beautiful furnishings of things that are just, pure, true, honest, good, and worthy of praise, helps keep that old garbage from creeping back in over time.

Discovering the counterfeit

Bank/treasury works learn to spot counterfeit money by handling real money so much that they instantly recognize a counterfeit when it passes through their hands.  Deciding what is “garbage” and what is lovely works in the same way.  We have to become so familiar with the good, with the things of God, that we instantly know when we are being fed garbage.  The enemy is very good at making the counterfeit so much like the real that many people have no idea they are eating the garbage.  But the more time you spend doing/hearing/seeing the good things, the God things, the more likely you will be able to make that distinction as you seek to starve out that fleshly nature.

You knew this was coming

Some of the things we can do, besides following the above verse, are listed below.

Using all the items at hand to keep from feeding the flesh and start starving it will help you in your walk with Christ or your search to eliminate those bad habits or sins that so easly beset us.   It may will take a lifetime, but it is worth the pursuit of purity.  Expect that the flesh will not go down easily, however, and watch out for his tactics.

Can you think of other ‘weapons’ you can use to starve the flesh?

Do you have a story of how you have (God has) defeated the flesh?

Does anything work better for you than another?

Do your intentions get in the way of your follow through?

Getting our feed on

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So how do we feed that sin nature or the negative part of ourselves?  Each of us feed in the same way and in different ways.  Even though we each have different temptations, there is “no temptation taken us, but such as is common to man.”   (  )   We are all in the same boat.  We all struggle; the struggle is the commonality in all.

The flesh has a name

Some of the sins listed in the Bible include:  lying/dishonesty, adultery/sexual sin, gossip/backbiting/slander, pride, covetousness/envy, greed, gluttony and much more.  Whatever your particular struggle, you probably feed it, without even meaning to or understanding what you do.  Maybe your ‘flesh’ is a habit, such as not taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise.  Whether your fleshly shortcoming is something you do that you shouldn’t or something you don’t do that you should, all of us have something, or many somethings, that we struggle with on a daily basis.

Becoming aware

One of the first steps toward breaking these strongholds is awareness.  Ask God to show you where you are feeding or making provision for the flesh.  Ask yourself and be open when you see yourself doing it.  For some it will help to write it down, make a list or take an ‘inventory’.  For others, a trusted friend to talk with be accountable with can help.

I can’t help it.

Chances are you will find yourself saying or thinking, “But I can’t help it” as you give in once again to the flesh.  That is a clue that at that point, your flesh has been fed and has enough strength to chain you to him once again.  If you are a human being, you have been a part of the cycle of  feeding the need, giving in to the need, remorse, trying to white knuckle it and ‘give it up’ only to start all over again.  If you are a Christian, you have been freed from the chains of this bondage, but you probably have one or more areas where you live as if you are still in bondage.

It starts in the mind

Sin (and even the bad habit) always starts in the mind.  The thought flashes in, a memory of pleasure felt, an image is seen, or something else happens to bring the desire to the mind.  Next time we’ll talk about ways to stop the cycle, but for today’s post, let’s say you begin to dwell on it, think about it, imagine it, or relive it.  Soon it is like the elephant in the room.  You can’t seem to look anywhere else until you become consumed with the need to fulfil the lust of the flesh.  Then plans are made (sometimes unconsciously) to get the ‘need’ met.   Here we go back to the garbage in/garbage out saying.  When we continue to allow things into our minds/eyes/ears that tempt us, we will continue to have the problem.

The other side of the coin.

Suppose your problem is laziness.  You know supper needs done, but you want to watch your favorite Soap or take a nap.  This works the same way – your mind begins to dwell on the nap/Soap and all the reasons why you can put off starting supper.  You sit in front of your television set, intending to just watch for a bit; your eyes droop; you start to snore.   Then, with a jerk, you wake up and see that your spouse will be home in five mintues and supper hasn’t even been started.  This is when you go into remorse mode.  You will probably think up excuses (lies) to explain why you haven’t done this.  {No calls from feminists please – it’s just an example}  Then you may make it worse by calling the pizza guy or running to McDonalds to serve your family less-than-healthy food.  The point is that giving in to the flesh involves the things we do and the things we don’t do.

What’s your struggle?

Have you ever felt helpless in the struggle or as if you are the only one?

Do you feel shame and think others would judge you if they ever found out?

Do you find yourself ‘making provision for the flesh’?

What are some ways you have fed your flesh, wrong desires, bad habits?

Have you allowed garbage in?

Feel free to share your own struggles and ideas.  Are there other questions you think I should ask?   

To be continued….

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