Friday, 22 November 2013

Says Who?

29 Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. Ephesians 4: 29 The Voice

Do you consider yourself an expert in dealing with human relationships?  Are you able to read minds?  Are you able to foretell the future?  Do you like to feel emotional pain?  Do you enjoy being disappointed, frustrated and hurt?

My guess is that the vast majority of you answered “NO” to the above questions.  So let me ask you another question that will take a little more thought.  What do you say to yourself as you go through each day?
Let me clarify what I am asking and why.  We all talk to ourselves throughout the day.  Research suggests that 77% of our self-talk is negative.  Such talk fits into the category that I call “self-inflicted wounds.”  For unless you are able to read minds, foretell the future, like emotional pain or enjoy being frustrated, disappointed and hurt why on earth would you spend so much time dwelling on the negative?

Ephesians 4:29 tells us that we are to offer “fresh words that build others up when they need it most.”  Why then would you let “rotten words seep out of your mouth” when talking to yourself.

Let’s get more specific.  How often do you have negative thoughts about your partner?  If, as you go through your day, you are thinking “he doesn’t do this”, “she always nags me to…” “ I wish she would get off my case”, and “I’ll bet other husbands don’t spend all their time…” then you are creating a mental quick sand that will just draw you down deeper and deeper.

To satisfy your own curiosity record your self-talk for one day.  At the end of the day see how many of the thoughts were negative and how many were positive.  What topic comprised most of your negative thoughts?   Whether the negative thoughts are about your spouse, your kids, your work, etc. you are subconsciously sabotaging your future.
This is not meant to suggest that when you are in a negative situation you should become a Polly Anna, i.e. approach life as if it were a game that consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation.

However as long as you are going to talk to yourself, and you will, why not dwell on the positive AND when you must consider something that is negative think about how you might make it better.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Two Classes of People

“The way you have been treated has more to do with who you are than what you believe.” Andy Stanley

At first glance one might take exception to the quote above.  Surely if we are devoted followers, i.e. disciples of Jesus, one would think that our allegiance would be to Him, to His way of living, and that we would live our lives in accordance with what we believe.

It is my opinion that what Andy may be saying is that if we were to define “believe” as intellectual ascent then it is quite possible that it is not reflected in our behavior.  Let’s be honest when you strip the Bible down to its most essential component it is very easy to understand, i.e. “love one another as I have loved you.”  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  You don’t have to take a class in hermeneutics, Greek or Hebrew to understand what we are called to do as Christians.  I suspect I just told you something that you already know and hopefully believe.  The reality is mere knowledge does not necessarily change our behavior. 

In his compelling series entitled “Christian” Andy Stanley drives home the point that as Christians, love must be the dominant lead foot. John 13:34-35 clearly spells out that we are to love one another just as He (Christ) loved us, and by our love people will know that we are His disciples.

So who are the two classes of people and what do they have to do with who we have become?

2 Classes:  (1) Those who hurt you and (2) Those who loved you

Only you know if this is a true statement for you.  Are you carrying some deep wounds from the past and have they helped to shape who you are?  Were you neglected or abused as a child?  Are you the product of a broken home?  Did the adults in your life fail to keep their commitments to you?  Were you made to feel that your performance in the class room or on the athletic field was the basis for the love you received?

I think you can begin to see that such negative experiences may shape who you have become more so than an intellectual ascent that we should obey the Great Commandment.  What if we wanted to exhibit the love of Christ to our husband / wife or neighbor what would it look like?

Most of us, even if we had a very difficult childhood can point to at least one person who treated us with love.  That person also influenced who we have become, they became a ray of hope in what may have been a very dark place.  You may have been fortunate enough to have experienced much love, be sensitive to the fact that there are many people who did not.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Whatever You Do

" So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1Corinthians 10:31

I have referenced this verse often.  My approach to marriage counseling is built on this verse as a platform for transformation.  Now I think this verse is perfectly clear.  For I am never in doubt as to whether something I say, or don’t say; or something I do or don’t do is glorifying to God.  There is never a doubt in my mind when my tone of voice or my body language conveys something that is not honoring to the Lord.

I must admit however that some people would like something a little more directive so here goes:

(1)   Don’t do anything that will hurt you.  Understand that you are at once a child of God and a representative of the living Jesus Christ.  If you do things that are harmful to you, i.e. continue in an addictive behavior, etc. you are not a good reflection on the King of Kings.  Your witness as a lamb of God is tainted.

(2)   Don’t do anything that will hurt someone else.  It stands to reason that if hurting yourself grieves the Spirit it will also grieve Him when you do something or say something that hurts someone else.  Nor does it matter whether or not the person you hurt is a brother or sister in Christ.  We are all children of God.

(3)   Don’t be mastered by anything or anybody (other than Christ).  If something masters you, you serve it like a slave.  We can become a slave to power, to wealth, or to possessions.   Some of us have become mastered by our kids or yielded to temptations that control us.
Your Master?
The three categories listed above are from Andy Stanley’s series entitled “Christian”.  I think they make the phrase “to glorify God” very understandable.  Surely we know if we are doing something that is harmful to ourselves whether it is smoking, drinking too much, working too much, watching pornography, etc.

Sometimes it is a little more difficult to determine if we are doing something that will ultimately hurt someone else.  For instance some of us who are people pleasers become enablers.  This is to the detriment of those who need to experience boundaries.  Some of us smother our children, refusing to let them grow up, etc.
If I haven’t meddled in your personal life thus far, perhaps the third category will push you over the edge.  In the US it is very easy to become mastered by any number of things.  Be honest with yourself.  Look at your time management and your finances, two of many good barometers of whether or not you are being mastered.