Tag Archives: fear

Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Friends are people we know and trust to be friendly.  Kindness is not only demonstrated in kind actions, but also in words, and the attitudes conveyed to our friends.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Friends are people we know and trust to be honest; even to the point of challenging and correcting us in a gentle and loving manner whenever that is needed.

Trust is the most basic requirement for a sincere, genuine, and healthy relationship with someone.  A husband who cannot trust his wife or a wife who does not trust her husband will be experiencing troubles in marriage that stem from trust issues.

Trust is something that is earned over time; but can be erased in a moment.  Trust is something we see in each healthy relationship of life.  If there is no trust, then the relationship is based on pretense, fakery, or fabricated reputation.

If a person does not trust the boss, the relationship is not what it could be.  If the boss does not trust the employee, the relationship is not what it should be.  If a parent does not trust he teacher, the student will pick up on that and the classroom relationship will not be what it should be.

The same is true in church.  The pastor trusts the deacons and the deacons trust the pastor.  Their relationship with each other and the relationship of the leadership with the church and church with the leadership also must be premised – on trust.

Sometimes people do not trust others simply because of past experiences.  Even if nothing wrong or sinful has happened in the new relationship. For example, I had a man tell me one time that “He did not trust any preacher.”  His past experiences, that were bad experiences, led him to the conclusion that all preachers were evil.  How could a person with that conclusion hope to learn, grow, attend church services, and develop healthy relationships?

I was not offended by this man’s statement – but as a preacher, I knew I would not have the chance to earn the trust of that man.  The relationship would be tainted and confused from the very start.

That is how some people see other genders.  Have you heard someone say something like “All men are evil pigs?” or “I can’t stand women?”  One or several bad experiences have been allowed to control how the person perceives about half the population!  That way of thinking makes no common or Biblical sense.

If you are hoping to marry someone and have had previous bad dating, or even marriage experience, be sure that those things do not influence your new relationship.  Let trust develop.  Grow in relationship with your new or soon to be spouse.

Starting a new job or another school year?  The boss and the teacher, the employee and the student should be respected and until trust is lost – it is best to develop a healthy relationship built on trust.   Thank God – trust may never be lost! You may have a healthy relationship the rest of your life.

Not trusting others is a personal defensive mechanism focused on preserving our pride and protecting our ego from future possible harm.  It is a natural human reaction.  However, not trusting is based on fear.  Fear is not something that we are to live by.  The Bible says to “Live by faith!”  Replace the fear and the accompanying trust issues with Faith in God!

2 Timothy 1:7 teaches, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  • Fear causes us to doubt the power of God.
  • Fear causes us to forget the love of God.
  • Fear causes us to not think clearly.

We fear when we are not in control.  We fear when we lose our influence.  We fear when we are not sure what is going on.  HAVE FAITH IN GOD!

  • God will take care of the marriage when we trust and obey Him.
  • God will take care of the workplace and classroom.
  • God will take care of His church. We belong to Him!

God will take care of you and your relationships can become healthy when your faith in God is greater than your faith in fear and distrust.  Ask the Lord to help each relationship to be built on trust.  Without trust – you don’t really have a relationship anyway!

 

 

 

 

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Think You Have A Headache Today?

Think You Have A Headache Today?

I read an article this week about a surgery performed on the wrong patient! Melanie Dadourian writes: “Doctors in Nairobi have been suspended for performing brain surgery on the wrong patient. A case of mistaken identification tags caused a mix-up between two patients — one needed surgery for a blood clot on the brain, the other just nursing and non-invasive treatment for swelling after a head trauma.  It wasn’t until hours into the surgery that doctors discovered there was no blood clot, according to a report from the BBC news service.”

Wow.  The wrong surgery on the wrong person for the wrong health need is a real problem indeed.  Now both patients had a severer headache!  Perhaps your headache does not feel as bad after reading this!

Doctors tell me that most headaches are caused by a lack of hydration.  When you learned about drinking 8 or more cups of water today in school, it was good advice!  Some headaches are caused by chemical issues in the brain. Sometimes its trauma or head trauma related.  Even when the eyes do not properly process sunlight a headache could occur. Sinus issues can contribute to them.  Sometimes tumors and abnormal growths are the culprit.  Many times, stress can create headaches.

Perhaps all of us have heard someone say something to the effect that another person caused their headache!  Actually – other people cannot cause our headaches.  How we process situations (our reactions or responses) would be the cause.  The external circumstances another person brings to bear does not enter into our head and cause the headache.  How we interpret and relate to the “potentially stressful situations” makes a big difference. We could call these types of headaches – “Relational Headaches.”

Each of us have processes (ways of interpreting and evaluating data) and responses to stimuli or circumstances.  How we respond can cause more problems (headaches) or cause more peace, and tranquility.

Here are some “Heart Remedies for Relational Headaches…”

  1. Cast Your Cares to the Lord. 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Please know that humility and releasing the burden and weight of a situation go together.  A proud person will try to fix it, carry it or resolve it on his own.  He may create a self-induced headache because he is not humble enough to trust God and accept His outcomes.  We cannot change people; but we can allow the Lord to change us.  Give your concern to God today.  All relationships are helped when we carry less guilt, grief, or weight into them.

  1. Commit Your Way to the Lord. Psalm 37:4-5 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Wanting more, wanting our way, and demanding our “rights” are good ways to acquire and sustain a headache.  When we delight in God, His Word, and His way for living, we are given more than we could ever hope for.  Because this is not always tangible and physical it is often overlooked.  The Lord can bring to pass any hope, dream, or aspiration that He places in your heart.  Our part in this is to “delight in Him.”  When we commit all our way to God we find the satisfaction in life that God has promised to us.

  1. Confess Your Need for the Lord. Colossians 1:18 And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  And Colossians 2:10 And ye (Christians) are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

One preacher at church recently quoted a missionary and said: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”  I like the statement.  It seems most Christians do the attempting but do not do the expecting.  When we assume leadership, authority, or expectations that God did not give to us, we are sure to create our own headaches or even give cause for contributing to a headache in other people.

We need God.  The local church is His church.  Jesus is the Head.  When we try take leadership instead of servanthood, we err.  We are complete in Jesus.  When we serve, allowing the Lord to do the thinking, planning, directing, and overseeing, we lesson the likelihood of relational headaches that would otherwise occur.  God may or may not use us, or other people to fulfill His plan.  Whether at home, church, or in the community, when we follow the leadership of Christ – is helps us!

If you have a headache today – it could be worse.  You could be contributing to a relational headache that the Lord never intended for you to have.  May these 3 simple truths be a help to you today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sour Life

The Sour Life

A little sour goes a long way with me.  A little lemon is good, not a lot.  Do you like rhubarb/strawberry pie?  Grandma Harness used to make that a lot.  I also enjoy rhubarb crisp.  Each year we harvest our own rhubarb and are sure to put a lot of real sugar in the crisp  because of how sour the rhubarb is! I even like some of the “Sweet and Sour” candies made today.  Sour foods taste bitter, acidic, and tart.  My palate can handle only so much.  I like sweet much better.

When it comes to relationships, sour, is not something that you want your life to be described as.  Christians do not want their outlook to be “sour.”  Our relationships should not taste sour and our emotional/spiritual perspective should not be bitter.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…” Hebrews 12:15

One funny story goes like this: “Two writers who were bitter rivals were both attending the same party. One had recently had a book published, and the other commented to him, “I read your new book and liked it. Who wrote it for you?”

The other replied, “I’m glad you liked the book, who read it to you?””   (6,000 Plus)

Two simple observations of the devastating effects of bitterness include:

  1. Bitterness troubles the one who is bitter. This includes a guilty conscience, irrational reasoning, with confused anger and responses to others.
  2. Bitterness affects the people around the one who is bitter. A husband affects his wife.  A wife affects her husband.  Parents will impact their kids. While some believe a self-propagated lie that “my bitterness only affects me” – the truth is “many be defiled” by one person’s bitterness.

Some people are bitter about their childhood and upbringing.  Some are still angry with their parents for schooling, sports, discipline, and other areas.  Some people are bitter towards childhood acquaintances from school, church, or teams they played on.  Others develop hatred in college, towards their “first romance” or even in the first real job.  Some are in relationships with people right now and are allowing unresolved issues, anger, selfishness, pride, or misunderstandings sour their outlook on life.

A basic practice of Bible Christianity is “self-examination.”  Considering the Word of God, are you harboring any level of bitterness towards someone?  Here are several identifiable characteristics of bitterness that can help you in your self-assessment:

  • Obsessive thoughts of revenge
  • Sarcasm
  • Critical or unkind comments
  • Self-righteousness
  • Conflicts with others
  • Aggressiveness in relationships
  • Controlling behavior

Bitterness will wreak havoc on a person and their family.  Being bitter will bloom into many other areas of sin; neglect, hostility, and wrong thinking.  The fruit produced by bitterness will be a life of regret, an outlook of despair, and a heart of hatred.

If any of the characteristics of bitterness are found in you, do everything you can, with God’s help, to get it pulled out of your life.  What should a bitter person do?

  • Confess the bitterness as sin.
  • Identify the source: jealousy, anger, rage, fear, pride.
  • Ask other people to pray for you. This demonstration of humility makes it clear that you mean business.
  • Ask for another Christian to hold you accountable when you exhibit any of the characteristics of bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those you have impacted directly with bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those who were indirectly impacted because of your bitterness.
  • Restore your relationship with God. The vertical relationship with Jesus is directly impacted by your horizontal relationship with other human beings. Getting relationships right with others is one way to get your relationship right with God.
  • Be happy in Jesus!  Don’t live “the sour life!”

 

 

(“Characteristics of Bitterness” – Guide to Biblical Counseling.  Clinton and Hawkins.)

 

 

 

 

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Moses is 120 years old.  His voice is still strong, mind still sharp, and his body is still capable.  He is told by God that he will get to peer over and get a peek at the Promised Land, but that he will not be able to go into the land. This was because of is disobedience in striking the Rock.

God gives Moses a “song” to declare to the people.  Following the song and some final words, Moses hikes up Mount Nebo and dies. Amazingly, God buries Moses.  No-one knows where the burial plot is to this day.

Interestingly, we get an idea of effective parenting and effective communication from the instructions Moses leaves with the people in this farewell address:

Deuteronomy 31:12-13  says, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”

Please note the underlined words above.  Perhaps you want to underline them in your Bible.  Several times in Scripture this idea of “Hear and Fear” and of “Hear, Learn, and Fear” are found.

In the narrative of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving God’s promises concerning blessing and cursing.  The nation of Israel would be blessed and prospered when they worshipped God alone.  They would be cursed and other nations would conquer them when they would worship false gods.  Much of the rest of the Old Testament is dedicated to this underlying theme of Israel’s blessing and cursing, their wandering and coming back to God.

Consider the teaching points Moses gives: “Hear, Learn, Fear.”

Hear. If you have ever been a teacher in a classroom of students or have taken classes on the subject, you know that you cannot teach someone if you do not have their attention.  The student must give their “hearing” to the teacher.

Limiting classroom distraction, and insisting on a student to focus are part of the “hearing” aspect of instruction.  There are many distractions in school settings today; it could be the glib comments of another student, the immoral seduction of a immodestly dressed girl, or the profane words of a teacher.

In addition, the student must want to focus and the parent must make the student motivated to want to hear the instruction in the classroom.

In much the same way, the Lord wants us to “hear” Him.  God wants us to listen to His Word.  Avoid letting other people distract you from hearing the message of the Lord.  Do not blame others for your lack of focus or lack of attention.

In parenting, be sure to help you child focus on the main things in life, not the inconsequential.  Develop their listening skills.  One reason we listen to many radio dramas in our home is to develop the “hearing” senses in our children.  Being able to give instruction and not having to repeat it several times is a good goal for parenting.  Our children should be taught to “hear” well.

Learn.  Learning takes place in every area of life.  We learn responses to others, defensive mechanisms so others do not hurt us, and reactions to undesirable situations.

When you were in school, you learned both good and bad lessons.  You learned some academics, and you learned some immoral or sinful behavior from other students.  We learn from what we are “hearing” the most.  If you are hearing and focusing on the facts of History or Science, that is what you will learn.  If you are hearing people mock or curse God – that is what you will learn.

Be careful what you are learning and from whom you are learning.  Who we listen to dictates much of what will be learned and what we will end up believing.

Parents have a challenge of developing the “learning” of their children.  From the classroom to the living room, you are responsible to make sure they are hearing the correct teaching and learning the Christian way to perceive and live life.

Limiting TV, controlling social media outlets, and having specific guidelines for cellphones is part of your parental responsibility.  I would not encourage any teen to have a cell phone or computer alone with them in their bedroom at night.  The heart of your teen is the target for many evil people who want them to “hear” them and then in turn “learn” from them.

Fear. Like Moses addressed the “Children of Israel” we can appropriately determine to have the same course of action in our parenting approach.  The goal of “hearing” and “learning” was to “fear” God.

Fear is a term that can be misunderstood today.  Biblical fear of God means “to fear; morally, to revere; be afraid, and to hold in reverence.”  The Lord is someone Who means what He says and says what He means.

Sometimes we are “afraid of being caught.”  That is not the same as the “Fear of the Lord.”  Fearing God has to do with a respect, reverence, and wonder for God – His might, power, ability, and Who He is – the King, Judge, and Savoir.  We should want to please Him.  There are blessings and consequences to all our actions.

Just like a child who loves his earthly father but is afraid to do wrong because he knows he will displease his father and face punishment -we too are to fear the Lord.  Just look at the criminal justice system for an example.  Those incarcerated had a disregard for the law – they did not fear the consequences nor have a fear for the law.

One of the greatest tragedies about many Christian families today is that we can make our kids “Hear” but we do not get them to the “Learn.”  Then others have their kids “Hear” and “Learn” but they never get to the “Fear” part.

The passage does say “Learn to fear.”  It is one thing to learn about God and another thing to learn to fear Him.  Somehow each parent must guide their children to have an overriding fear of God in their heart.  Here are four ideas to help:

  1. Follow through with promises. Be a parent of your word.
  2. Follow through with consequences. Do not rob your child the good (and sometimes painful) lessons that consequences bring.
  3. Focus your family life on pleasing the Lord. Let them see the underlying principles of loving God and others more than self.
  4. Let your kids see your Christianity in such a positive way that they will want it for their lives too. Like Ecclesiastes 12:13 instructs: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

 

 

 

The Opposite of Worry

The Opposite of Worry

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Perhaps if we could understand the song birds, we could hear them say something like the following:

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow…

‘I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and hurry so.’

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

‘Friend, I think that it must be

That they have no Heavenly Father

Such as cares for you and me.’”

Of course, the Lord cares so much for you – much more than the creatures of His creation!  May God help us to not let “worry” define and destroy our lives.

If anyone could have had a “good reason” to worry – it could have been the Apostle Paul.  He had many troubles that he endured.  From declining health, to the government wanting him dead, to even having Christians fighting each other and even fighting against him, Paul had much potential to worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be Careful” is a phrase that means “to be anxious about.”  It is a Bible term for worry.

I like how one person wrote: “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.”

Synonyms for “Worry” include “concern, apprehension, and fear.”  We fear much and worry a lot – it is natural.  Things we worry about may include:

  • Will by health decline or what if I acquire a disease?
  • What type of relationship will I have with family members in the future?
  • Will I ever get married?
  • Does he/she like me?
  • Where will I go to college?
  • What type of house will I have one day?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get enough money for this vehicle?
  • Can I really pay these bills?
  • Wil I get this promotion?

“Don’t worry, be happy” may seem like a helpful statement, but it is inaccurate.  The opposite of worry is not happiness.  The opposite of worry is peace.  While worry is natural, to have peace is supernatural.

Understand the peace of God is the presence of God.  Most people never have victory over worry because they are attempting to live life apart from God.  Even Christians struggle sometimes with leaving each burden with the Lord can casting their cares to Him.  When we know His presence, and let that guide us, we will experience peace of mind and heart.

How can I have the “peace of God” in my life?

Be Sure to Pray.  Philippians 4:6 says our response to worry should be prayer.  There are 3 terms used for prayer in this verse.

  • Prayer – This is a general term used in our addressing the Lord, and seeking Him. It implies worship. Perhaps each of us should take more time to “Adore” and show love to God in prayer.
  • Supplication – This is a term for special and detailed requests. It means to ask a petition.
  • Thanksgiving – Gratefulness is missing in our prayers sometimes. This term means we should have grateful language in our talk with the Lord.  Instead of “demanding” and asking, why not pause in part of your prayer moments and be thankful to the Lord?

Be Sure to Check Your Mind.  As verse 7 indicates, the peace of God can “keep our hearts and minds.”  Righting thinking goes a long way in the search for peace of mind and victory over worry.  Bible teacher, Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote that only 8% of the things people worry about happen.  That means 92% of the things people worry about will not or cannot really happen.  How much time, energy, and thoughts are wasted on worry?  Perhaps too much to count. We control our minds by thinking of “Good things.”  Philippians 4:8 says, “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.”

Replace worrisome thoughts with the peaceful thoughts that God gives us in the above verse.

Be Sure to Check Your Actions.  Philippians 4:9 goes on to describe the third way to replace worry with peace: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Do what you know is right according to the Scriptures.  Paul cites the Bible teaching he gave and the Godly lifestyle he demonstrated as a good example for the Christians in Philippi to follow.  Are your actions matching and coordinating with your prayers and your thinking?  Our actions and what we “do” should complement the prayers we offer and the thoughts we think.

If we are not doing right, and know that we are disobeying God in a certain area, then we cannot have peace in our heart.   As Christians, we have “peace with God” continually in salvation, but we may not be at peace in our heart because of disobedience.  Similar to how a small child may shy away from a parent when they know they are doing wrong.  They are still the son or daughter of their parent, but are ashamed of their actions and may even avoid being around the parent. They have “guilt.”  They know they should be doing the right thing, but have succumbed to a temptation to do the wrong thing.

Take a student for example.  A test is coming and instead of studying and preparing for the test, he plays games on facebook, texts people all night, and does things other than study.  When the test is presented to him, he begins to worry because he did not do the things he was supposed to be doing.

Take another student.  She hears about an upcoming test and takes her books home to study.  She memorizes, writes out the main subjects of the test, develops a study guide, and puts much time and effort into preparing for the test.  When she is given the test, she has peace in her heart because she did what she was supposed to do.  Humanly speaking, she did everything possible to be ready and a lasting result is – peace in her heart when tested. The same is true in our Christian life.

When we do what we pray with thoughtfulness, are controlling our minds with right thoughts, and are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can replace worry with supernatural peace.

The Better Question

The Better Question

“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  Ephesians 5:25

Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought.  Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member.  Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service.  He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.

Joe was busy just like everyone else.  His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times.  He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree.  His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances.  Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord.  His life was changing.

Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church.  His wife and kids went without him.  He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church.  The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again.  That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired.  He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled.  He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm.  “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family.  Each one was now discouraged.  No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday.  After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.

A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.

Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance?  The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life.  After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church.  What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us?  Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance?  The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.

Some believers get out of the church attendance habit.  They do not decide to, but it just happens.  One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule.   After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church.  With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”

After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?”  The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance.  I have found that this reasoning is faulty.  The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church.  The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ.  Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.

A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?”   In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people.  We should live to please Jesus, not others.  Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.

Jesus wants you to come back to church.  Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord.  Go back to church this Sunday.  The people will congratulate and welcome you.