Category Archives: Relationships

As Iron Sharpens Iron

pr 27 17“You just want to be safe.  But life is scary, and it gets interesting when it’s scary because then it requires trusting in God.”  These words came from a wise woman who is like a mother figure to me.  I love conversations with older, wiser people who have been there, done that, and they have experienced life without God and know how blessed it is to live life with and for God.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17

When it comes to sharpening one another spiritually, I think we need to talk about that more often at church.  We talk about grace, forgiveness and salvation a lot, which is great, but what about after you become a Christian and have made Jesus Lord of your life?  If you’re like me, having come from a disadvantaged situation, it’s likely that you may not have had ideal parental role models who continually coach and guide you even after you have “grown up.”  Teaching should not stop after we “come of age,” but we should continually seek wisdom from older, wiser individuals whom we respect spiritually, personally and professionally.

Teaching is not just reserved for the young, either.  Even older men and women need to be taught, as Paul wrote to Titus:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Titus 2:1-15

Scriptures are the ultimate authority, of course, but if there are spiritually mature people in your church who could guide you, why not ask for a mentor?  Everyone has blind spots; we need to grow as people!  Spiritual maturity is biblical:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:11-16

What is the purpose of maturity?   Is it just so you can be a better person and that’s it?  According to the scriptures, Christ gave leadership to his people, the church, so that these leaders may equip Christians for works of service.  In other words, the role of leadership is to equip you for works of service, so that you may become mature.

Leadership does not have to be a title.  If you can find someone in your church that you respect, that person can be a leader in your life to help equip you, whether that means calling you out on your character so you can repent and grow, or calling you out of your comfort zone.  Maturity is not all about you, anyway.  It’s all about becoming a better worker for the Lord so we can serve and meet one another’s needs in the body of Christ.

#grow #repent #serve #Christ #BodyofChrist #maturity #growth #ServeOneAnother #musingz4life #discipling #mentor #mentoring #coach #coaching

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Are You in an SWB Relationship?

relationshipYou’ve heard of the term “FWB,” right? As it relates to spirituality, “SWB” is “Saved with Benefits,” meaning you’re saved but there is no commitment to obedience whatsoever. On a personal note, I thought I had a great relationship with God but there were still some areas in my life that were not quite right.

I’ve had an SWB relationship with God — loving the benefits of being a Christian without much sacrifice or suffering. When I say “suffering,” I don’t mean external circumstances or the past over which you had no control. I’m talking about it as in suffering for righteousness because nine times out of ten, obedience does not feel comfortable and it sure feels like suffering when you are denying yourself from what your flesh really wants.

“For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:16

Think not only of Jesus’s sufferings but also of Paul, Abraham, David, Job and other heroes of the faith!  These men are great examples who took their faith to the next level.  Each one is known for his unique love for God but when you closely examine their lives, you will also see how greatly they suffered in order to stay close to God.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24

Intimacy with God requires giving up worldly pleasures for the sake of a healthy relationship with Him based on love and obedience.  No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  If you are not serving God, you are serving something else.

We may not always be aware that we have an SWB relationship, but one way I realized this was through a conversation with a friend.  After listening to my complaints and rationalizations, she pointed out that many times we Christians like the benefits of Christ without suffering for righteousness.  To be honest, this conversation opened my eyes to see the countless times when I rationalized my sins in my own head and with other people!

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  Proverbs 26:12

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”  Proverbs 3:7

If we are well-meaning Christians, I don’t think we are intentionally in SWB relationships with God, but sometimes we need a little help from friends (especially strong Christians) who will open our eyes to the true condition of our hearts.

#relationships #God #compromise #SWB #musingz4life #righteousness #holiness #obedience #love

Taken for Granted

gods-handsIt’s easy to take people for granted after you’ve known them for a while.  The initial excitement of a new friend or lover wears off after a few months.  The term “Seven Year Itch” refers to the decline in happiness around the seventh year of marriage, but most people I have talked to these days have never had relationships that even made the five-year mark, let alone a year or two!  Divorce rates in Christian marriages continue to skyrocket.  If we cannot fathom what perseverance means in a marriage to another human being whom we can see, how can we understand perseverance in a relationship with God whom we cannot see?

Look at how God pursues us:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me
to my very face…”

 ~ Isaiah 65:1-3

All day long, God holds out His hands to a people who continually reject Him and choose to pursue their own imagination.  I’m not referring to imagination as in terms of delusions, but it’s more like dreaming of your future without including God in your plans.  When you plan for the next 30, 40 or 50 years until you die, do you consider how your life could glorify God in ever-increasing measure, or is it all about you?  God looks for you even though He never crosses your mind for a millisecond.

 11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord
    and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

~ Isaiah 65:11-12

 How about those who have already tasted the goodness of God and still choose to forsake Him?  Forsaking God is not an overnight process.  It varies for everyone, depending on how much one compromises with evil.  The more you compromise, the faster and easier it becomes to backslide.

 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

 ~ Matthew 13:3-9

 Some who come to the faith last a short time, while others last a very long time and then they fall away.  Very few last until they breathe their last, and that’s why the scriptures say that the road to destruction is wide but the gate to heaven is narrow (Matthew 7:13).  God reaches out to us every single day.  He reaches out to people who don’t know Him yet and extends the same to those who already have a relationship with Him.  Walking with God means having a loving relationship with Him, not only “till death do we part” but for eternity after death.

Have we taken God for granted and chosen the wider path, or will we pray and ask God for help to be obedient so we can stay on the road less traveled?

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome.”   

1 John 5:3

#NarrowPath #PleaseGod #love #obedience #musingz4life

A Dollar for a Penny

ball n chainAre you willing to trade your dollar in exchange for a penny? Then why would you exchange a beautiful relationship for quick cheap pleasures?

Addiction doesn’t just destroy your relationship with the God Almighty. It destroys every other beautiful relationship you have on earth as well: your significant other, children, parents, coworkers, and other members of the community. Perhaps you have been the victim of addiction, having witnessed a parent come home drunk and fly into a drunken rage. Or you have witnessed sexual addiction tear your parents’ marriage apart by way of pornography or adultery.

  • About 43% of adults in the United States – 76 million Americans – have been exposed to alcoholism in the family. They grew up with or are married to an alcoholic, or they have a blood relative who is an alcoholic. (Alcoholism Statistics, 2013)
  • Children of alcoholics are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction (Merikangas, Stolar, Stevens, Goulet et al., 1998)
  • In a sample of 6,268 adults, adult offspring of parents with addiction were 50% more likely to develop depression than their peers (Fuller-Thomson, Katz, Phan, Liddycoat & Brennenstuhl, 2013)

What does addiction destroy?

– Intimacy
– Self-worth
-Brain cells
-Your soul
-Relationship with God
-Significant relationships in your life

Overcoming addiction often requires more than just a little help from friends and family. In order to achieve the satisfaction you want in life, you have to reach out and ask for help.

Jesus came to Earth so you could have life to the full (John 10:10).  Addiction holds you back from having that full life that God wants for you.  Sometimes addiction is a disease handed down through genetics; other times it’s induced by trauma, peer pressure or just personal choice.  If there’s anything in your life that is spinning out of control, or if close friends and family have expressed their concerns to you about certain habits or lifestyle choices you’ve made, it is time to consider: Would you rather have a dollar or a penny?

#Lifetothefull  #Addiction #Musings4Life #addictionholdsyouback

References

Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998.55(11): p. 973-9.

Esme Fuller-Thomson, Robyn B. Katz, Vi T. Phan, Jessica P.M. Liddycoat, Sarah Brennenstuhl. The long arm of parental addictions: The association with adult children’s depression in a population-based studyPsychiatry Research, 2013; DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2013.02.024

 

 

Man’s Failing Love vs. God’s Unfailing Love

pro 20“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I have put my hope.” Lamentations 3:21-24 (GNT)

How do insecure attachment issues affect one’s relationship with God?

Understanding your own early attachment bonds may give you insight into why certain important relationships are not working. If you come from a family that was emotionally absent at best and abusive at worst, you will have trouble connecting with the relationships that you value the most, whether they be romantic, platonic, parental, filial or divine. In my own observations, I have seen people come from situations with neither parent being a solid pillar in their lives, but they cling to God so fervently, making Him their “Safe or Calm Place” that they managed not just to survive but actually thrive in life.  No matter who you are or what kind of background you have, God is with you and promises to never leave you.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”  Psalm 21:7

Next to our relationships with our parents, our relationship with our life partner is the most significant one on earth. If we did not get the right foundation in the beginning, it would be really unfair to expect a partner to fill a void that our parents were supposed to fill. Even good parents are not perfect, as you probably know a handful of people who came from seemingly good homes but still are “not really making it” in life.

The only real relationship that will last from earth to eternity is our relationship with God. God promises all throughout the Old and New Testaments that He will be with you, He will never leave you, and His unfailing love can be trusted. The evidence of God’s existence and love abounds, but we have to be willing to open our hearts, seek and see.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27)

God has determined the places where you’d be and the situations you’d be in, all for the purpose of hoping that you’d reach out for Him, though He is not far from you. You see, even God hopes that you will decide to choose Him too, because you have free will to believe what you want.

Many of us have experienced major disappointments, betrayals, broken hearts, and tragedies. Almost all of us want someone who will love us unconditionally with an undying, unwavering, unfailing love “till death do we part.” But when disappointments come, some react in ways that destroy the relationship permanently and we either are not aware of it or we don’t understand how we, or they, would behave that way.

In her book Getting Past Your Past, Dr. Francine Shapiro, a renown researcher and original developer of EMDR therapy, wrote:

If you were able to identify a Safe or Calm Place, then you already have a very useful technique to help get rid of a disturbance if it arises. It’s important to use it daily when you aren’t upset in order to make sure it stays powerful enough to work. (Shapiro, 2012, p. 106, emphasis added).

As Dr. Francine Shapiro said in her book, you have to find a Safe Place where you find strength and “use it daily” to reinforce your inner strength.  For me, it’s God and His Word. What will be your Safe Place?

#Godslove #unfailinglove #Godsword #dailyscripture #Musings4Life #emdr

References

Shapiro, F. (2012). Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. New York, NY: Rodale Books.

People Person or People-Pleaser?

self respectBeing a people person is a wonderful trait. You like people and they like you. You are pleasant to be around and you seem to get along with everyone for the most part. However, for some, beneath that mask of “wonderful-ness” is someone who does not have a healthy self-image or esteem. What others say goes, and it’s their way all the time. When you eventually muster the courage to speak up, they ignore you or dismiss your opinion as though your voice doesn’t matter, so you sulk and shrink back in a corner.  Ask yourself: Are you afraid to speak up for fear of losing a friend or significant other?

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

People-Pleasing Is a Trap!

In relationships, low self-esteem can be a real stumbling block because you throw yourself under the bus rather than having a healthy level of self-respect and respect for others. When others ask you for a favor, you readily comply, but then you’re too afraid to speak up to have your own needs met. Does this sound familiar at all to you?

“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

Our emotions can vacillate according to how we feel we’re treated and how we feel about ourselves. Let’s say a friend recently had a difficult conversation with you. Their words have the potential of an anchor dragging your heart to the bottom of the ocean, but if you trust in God and what the Word says about you, you can evaluate the conversation more logically and have a level-headed approach. It’s not easy if the person is your significant other or a BFF, but taking refuge in God’s unfailing love gives you buoyancy to rest afloat an ocean of emotions. God’s Word gives you inner peace and stability as you work out the kinks of your relationships with others.

“For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:43

Insecurity stems from wanting validation from people rather than God. When you care more about what people think of you, you speak and behave to make everyone happy instead of paying attention to your own worth or what God thinks about you. In situations that call for ethical decision-making, this fear of man plays a big role. Will you do the right thing and risk making some important people unhappy (e.g., your boss), or will you compromise righteousness for the sake of fitting in?

Being a people person means having a healthy level of self-respect and compassion for others. Being a people-pleaser will eventually burn you out and make you miserable and bitter. If you do finally stand up for yourself and they ignore you, belittle you, or dismiss your opinion, there is no point in fighting for a relationship or friendship that is not a two-way street. Learn when to keep and when to let go.

#GodsOpinionMatters #HealthySelfRespect #RespectOthers #Musings4Life #ThursdayThoughts #TrustGod

The Delicate Balance of Trust

can i trust uTrust “implies instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something,” according to Dictionary.com. The interesting word here is “unquestioning.” How many times do we question in the back of our minds the reliability of someone’s words, especially when this person makes a promise? Do we use that person’s history as our personal “background check” to assess the reliability of his integrity? Or do we use our own backbone (or lack thereof) to judge whether this person will follow through? Would you consider yourself a self-reliant person who likes to be in control, or do you completely trust others to the point of delegating tasks to your subordinates without questioning their competence? How many times does a friend have to mess up before you eventually lose trust in him? If he lied once, would you give him a second chance, or would you deem him “once a liar, always a liar”?   Trust is not the belief in OR reliance upon something; it is a combination of both.

They say that without trust, a relationship will not survive. That is true, because you need both character and love to earn someone’s trust. It may sound silly to say that if someone has had a bad academic or work history, he might be a bad life partner. Does he turn in his homework on time or does he always give his teacher excuses for why the paper was late? Does he call in sick to work even if he isn’t? Is he always late to work, even if it’s only five minutes? Believe it or not, these traits affect relationships. If someone has a habit of forgetting appointments with you or always has an excuse ready on their tongue to justify their actions, even if their actions hurt you, eventually these traits will wear you down and although you continue to love them, you lose your trust in that person.

You can feel it when someone doesn’t trust you. They constantly ask you questions as though they don’t believe you are competent enough to do it in the way you know how, or they criticize the way you do things because it’s not good enough, or it’s not the way they were taught. Sometimes a lack of trust stems from someone’s own lack of character, and sometimes it comes from someone’s background if they did not grow up in a loving environment where individual growth was encouraged. Someone who does have character but constantly questions you about yours can just be as annoying as someone who doesn’t have character and drops the ball.

So how do we build trust? A good start would be to assume that the person knows what he is doing, and not just that, but to assume that he does the job well. If he messes up, don’t get on his case for it, because you know as well as I that we have all made mistakes that we are not proud of. People need to be encouraged to keep practicing so they can get better at something; people don’t need to be reminded of their mistake. Failure is a punishment in itself. You know how it feels when someone believes in you more than you can believe in yourself. Someone else’s faith may empower you to do things you never thought you could, simply because someone believed in you. Create a safe haven for others so that they would feel comfortable to ask for assistance when they need it. The key phrase: when they need it. Some feel more comfortable figuring out the problem for themselves; others may want assistance. Let them make that decision for themselves; stepping in and intervening when they did not ask for your input may make you look nosy and intrusive.

The reliance component of trust is a little trickier. The best litmus test is yourself; have you proven yourself to be trustworthy and reliable? Are you known for canceling appointments with others or have you earned a reputation for being reliable? Building trust and bridging that gap between yourself and others means that you have to take a risk. From personal experience, I have always enjoyed working alone because whenever I had to work on group projects, I always did all the work and others came along for the ride, receiving credit for the work I did. Luckily, some of my teachers caught on to something and they gave credit where credit was due, but I am not the type to go rat on someone if I was being used. (Of course, ultimately I am responsible for not allowing others to walk all over me, but I was just a kid back then and now I am redefining what my boundaries are.) Those types of experiences from my education could cause me to not rely on others; I am so used to doing everything all by myself that I want control and I don’t trust others that they could do it. If you have been in my shoes, then you know what it feels like to not want to create drama and conflict, but it is important to reach out and start trusting again, especially if you don’t want to become that “nag” in the relationship. To earn trust is to trust others first.

#TrustTakesTime #BuildWisely #BuildCarefully #DelicateBalance #Musings4Life