Tag Archives: grow

Mind Games in Relationships

Mind Games in Relationships

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…”  Ephesians 4:23

One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’  At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”

True.  Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions.  Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you.  Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?

Testimony is one reason.  We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus.  Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us.  When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging.  When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.

Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride.  Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships.  This pride takes form in several ways.  Here are two:

  • Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket.  I just painted a watercolor, etc…”  As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions.  Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way.  We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
  • Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways.  This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility.  Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her.  This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships.   The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…”  This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing.  Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about.  Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful.  It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
  • Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.

In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.

Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side.  Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking.  Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus.  Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed.  Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day.  Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.

Other people are generally thinking about themselves.  Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.






The “Success Sequence”

The “Success Sequence”

Prophecy News Watch is a website that keeps readers aware of current events of Biblical nature.  I enjoy their weekly emails.

One recent article suggested there is a “Success Sequence” for major life choices that impact whether person avoids poverty or lives in poverty.

The article in part said: “The Brookings Institute ‘demonstrated way back in the early nineties that Americans only need to do three things to avoid living in poverty: graduate from high school, marry before having a child, and have that child after age 20… Sociologists today say that this ‘success sequence’ still works. One study of millennials found that 97 percent of those who earn at least a high-school diploma, work, and get marred before having kids will not be poor as they enter their 30s.”

97 percent of those who followed this “Success Sequence” are not living in poverty today! It is hard to argue with those numbers.  With all the “Do what you want to do” teachings and instant gratification kids are taught; coupled along with homes that have very little discipline or moral expectations – no wonder poverty in America seems to be increasing.  Case in point:

  • 2-3 families living in under the same roof.
  • Cohabitating with several people, not related, is heard of more.
  • Young adults past college age still living at home.
  • Living pay check to pay check with no plan to pay off credit cards.
  • Kids with little education and no aspirations constantly playing on cell phones.
  • A major uptick in drug addictions, marijuana smokers, and the recent opioid epidemic.
  • An increase in screen addictions. Parents who allow cell phones and tablets risk not only the addictions to the pornography industry, but also the distorted development of a mind that is relying on a tablet or cellphone for information.
  • Personal debt is at an all time high.
  • There is an increase in people renting instead of buying homes.

Years ago Solomon taught in Proverbs 24:27 “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.”

It could be stated that in different terms, the report is saying the same thing that Solomon said.

  1. Finish High School. Vocational and college training is also a consideration here.  (Prepare)
  2. Have a career and then get married. (Make Fit for Thyself in the Field)
  3. Have children following marriage. (Afterwards Build Thine House)

Perhaps one word to describe this “Success Sequence” is very simply – “Stable.”  Stability ensures you will avoid poverty.

One more warning on those little screens and social media: Couples who maintain separate social accounts many times have a more distant relationship with each other resulting in possible unhealthy choices, conflict, and perhaps even divorce.  This could contribute to a reversal of the “Success Sequence.”  When divorce occurs, no matter the wealth previously accumulated, cycles of decline begin, an estate is divided resulting in wasteful spending patterns and eventual poverty.

Stability will ensure that you do not live in poverty.  Better yet – Biblical stability will ensure you live a “successful life.”   Parents, teach your kids this plan.  The future of their lives and the future of your possible grandchildren depend on knowing this Bible truth.





Time And Growth

Time And Growth

Recently I read about an incident that occurred back in 2004.  A fight broke out among the residents of a nursing home in their dining hall.  One man was playing with the lettuce in the serving line with his bare hands.  From that a fight ensued.  A 62-year-old and an 86-year-old started to trade “punches.”  Then a 79-year-old was bitten in the arm.  The mother of the 62-year-old man was cut in the arm and a 92-year-old man was shoved to the floor as other residents ran away from the dining hall.

The point of sharing this story is that time and age does not ensure a person grows “out of” anger issues.  We cannot hope that one day the wrath of a person is appeased because he or she becomes a certain age.  The only way to grow out of any sin – is to grow more like Jesus.  What we do in and with our time, is more important than how much time has expired.

Ephesians 4 clearly teaches how to replace the sin with righteousness and goodness.  God can help you grow in these areas!

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Please observe the first sin listed: Bitterness.  Wrath, anger, clamour (outcry of grief), evil speaking (vile and blaspheme), and malice (badness) are all a result of the first sin: Bitterness.

Bitterness leads to faulty vision, angry thinking, and heated words.  Time does not heal bitterness.  Jesus alone can heal bitterness.

A life submitted to God will bring the hurts, pains, resentments, and seeds of bitterness to God and let God take care of them.  When we hold onto our “rights,” our pride, and our bitter spirit, the bitterness sprouts up into a garden of deceit, pain, and turmoil that chokes out all the positive things God is doing in our lives.  Nurturing bitterness ensures a garden of sin and grief is cultivated in a person’s life.

Replace the bitterness with forgiveness.  Replace the anger and wrath with kindness. Replace the harsh words with tenderheartedness.

While some people seem to “mellow out” over time, it is not just because of the passing of days. Time alone is not enough to grow out of sin and to find healing from the control of sin.  Growing in Jesus and learning to follow his example of love, compassion, and forgiveness is the only way to see victory over the sin of bitterness and anger.  What we do with the time God gives to grow closer to Him is what really counts.




Making the Teacher Happy

Making the Teacher Happy

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:52

It makes sense to me.  Want good grades?  Want to not earn demerits?  Want to not be punished by your parents for wrong doing while at school?  Then make it a goal to “make the teacher happy.”

Don’t get this wrong.  Just about every week, the news tells us about impropriety and immorality between a teacher and student.  That is not how to make the teacher happy.  Making the teacher happy in the sense of gaining their favor in the classroom is something that should be expected.  Earning the esteem and admiration of the teacher should be like “second nature” to a student.

Here are some ideas to gain the favor of the teacher, earn good grades, and to become a more complete boy or girl for Jesus.  Parents, these are expectations you should have for your son/daughter.

  1. Work on your attitude. A student with a good attitude can do anything and become anyone that God wants him to be.  A student with a rotten attitude will not be able to achieve all God wants – because of the bad attitude.  As a parent, this is the most important area to work on.  If an attitude is demanding, selfish, reluctant, pushy, sarcastic, or manipulative, then the student is heading for a disastrous life unless there is an intervention.  Parents, work together with the teacher to remedy the attitude.  Rules do not make a bad attitude – a rebellious heart makes a bad attitude.  Attitude is a choice of the heart – not the circumstances. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  And Jesus said in Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”  The attitude, good or bad, is a reflection of the heart.
  2. Know the score. Each student should know what is expected in each class.  Jr High and Sr High school students rotate between classes and teachers and there will be variations of expectations in each class.  The student should learn each nuance and expectation and adjust accordingly.  If the student does not know what is expected, he should ask for clarification.  For example: One teacher may want the student to sit more straight in the chair, while another teacher looks for the students name to be printed on the top right (instead of to the left) of an assignment.
  3. Think before you speak. The classroom interaction should remain positive and encouraging.  When a teacher corrects a child, it is not the same thing as disciplining a child.  For example: a student is disrupting the class and talking out of turn.  When the teacher says: “Stop talking” – she has offered correction – not punishment.  The embarrassment of being called out may impact the student, but no discipline has happened. If the student talks back by giving an excuse for disobeying the rules, then he should be punished for acting and speaking the rebellion in his heart.  Demerits and detention are examples of punishment.  When correction is noted and told the parent and when actually discipline talks place in school, I believe it is best that the parents follows up with their own personal discipline and punishment at home.  Students misbehaving at school are a reflection of the parenting, or lack of parenting in the home. Parents are advised to train their children to “think before they speak.”
  4. Respect everyone. A student does not have to understand a rule, just agree to live by it.  Institutional rules are not intended to be morally right or wrong, but to give order and structure to the organization.  Disobeying a rule is morally wrong, even when the rule has no moral bearing.  A majority of rules in a school have to do with respecting other people.  In this era of education, most people are focused on individual rights.  Surprisingly, some Christians have also adopted this humanistic philosophy.  The Bible and traditional education is more focused on the rights of others.  For example, an clothing outfit that is distracting to others is ruled against in order to not interfere with the learning of the other students.  Another example – talking and disrupting class with sarcastic remarks is not allowed so that other students are able to focus on their studies.  Teach your student to be considerate of others when he comes to the classroom.
  5. Expect more. Many parents allow their child to talk back, complain until the parent changes his mind, and even manipulate the decisions of the parents with emotional instability, constant nagging, and a persistent bad attitude.  I encourage you to expect more and demand less.  Expect more of a submissive attitude and demand less negative talking.  When complaining starts – stop it. When a sour expression glosses over the face – stop it.  Expect more. When teachers and others in authority inform there is a problem – get to the root of the problem – the heart.  Defending a student, making up excuses, or taking sides will not help develop the heart of the student for the Lord.  Dross is never removed from the gold until the heat is applied.  Just like gold, a student will not be worth much in life if all the dross and impurities of a bad attitude and selfish life are removed.  It is ultimately the student’s choice, but a parent, like the goldsmith, can make a big difference.
  6. Honor God. Each student wanting to honor the Lord willingly submits to the authority and the education the Lord has called him to.  While a student may not have a “paying” job, the Lord has called each student to the “full time job” of learning.  It is hard work to focus, pay attention to detail, write papers, and study for tests.  Being a student is a “Calling” with lifelong implications and dividends.  If a student does not develop good study habits, personal disciplining relationships with authority and peers, and make decisions that honor God while in his youth – it is much harder to learn it later in life.  Thank the Lord for many who have been saved, or saved people who have been restored to fellowship later in life.  But think of the years wasted, the relationships ruined, and the witness for Christ diminished during that time.  Help your student to honor God today.

By the Way:  The Jewish boys would become a “son of the commandment” at age 13.  In the years before age 13, the parents would do all they could to help the boy mature and develop into a respectable and responsible young man.  That is the context of Jesus “increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”  Mary and Joseph taught their boys before age 13 to put God first in their lives.  Parents, you do not have much time to help your student learn to “Be” and to “Do” right.

Learn to make your teacher happy. It will cause your educational years to be both enjoyable and productive.






As Dumb As A Cow

As Dumb as a Cow

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.

Proverbs 12:1

No one wants to be known as being dumb. Foolish. Or especially stupid.  However, some of us are living as if we really are dumb.  The following are unpleasant statements: “You are as dumb as a donkey!”  or “You are as stupid as a dog.”

What about being as dumb as a cow? That is what this proverb is speaking about.  While loving instruction and knowledge will bring about the wisdom of God for daily living; he that hates reproof is as dumb as a cow.

The Hebrew term for “brutish” is a term associated with “cattle brutishness; stupid: brutish, foolish.” “Brutish” according to Merriam Webster is “Resembling, befitting, or typical of a brute or beast.”

Our extended family have farms and I frequented my grandparents farm while growing up.  The cows down on the farm are good at several things:  They can walk.  They can lay down.  They can find water in the creek or pond.  They can identify grass.  They can eat grass.  They can follow the hay wagon with the dried grass in it.  They can sleep standing up.  They can even make “cow patties.”  It is cool how a cow can swat at flies with its tail!  They can do these things every day for their entire life. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  I mostly like it when the cow becomes a cheeseburger, but that is something they are not capable of by themselves!

The point is – an animal – a cow is not that smart.  They are creatures of habit with limited ability.  God made them that way and that is OK.   They have simple minds that focus on the most basic things of life.  They are fulfilling their role in the pattern of life that God established.

The problem is that when human beings act like cows, we are demeaning our humanity, defacing our image of the Lord, and dishonoring the God Who made us.  We act as dumb as cows when we refuse instruction.  God expects so much more from the pinnacle of His creation – you and I.

The word “reproof” is used here.  Reproof is a form of chastisement or correction.  For example, when we correct our children of wrong thinking or wrong actions, we are helping them develop thinking and actions that reflect godliness, instead of reflecting cows!

Ask yourself several questions:

  • Have I learned all that God wants me to learn?
  • Do I have room to grow?
  • Do I get angry when someone points out how I can do or be better?
  • How will I grow and develop in Bible wisdom?

Just saying “I want to grow” is good, but you need more specifics in your path to growing.  Reading 3-5 chapters of the Bible, setting aside time to pray, determining to not only attend, but participate in the services of your church.  (We have 4 growth opportunities each week: Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday Evening Praise, and Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study.)

When people talk to you about things to “do better” or challenge you to “Grow” in an area, do not take offense to that – learn, embrace, and become more like Jesus.  Don’t be a cow.







We All Start Somewhere

We all Start Somewhere

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:                  1 Peter 2:2

John Maxwell tells this astute story: “A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”

Whether you have been saved 4 days, 4 months, 4 years, or 44 years, the Lord has called you to be a “Growing Christian.”  We all start at the same place in our relationship to God.  When we are “born again,” at the moment of our believing in the Gospel, we start a new, spiritual life.

The Bible is what new and old Christians are nurtured with.  The more we read and apply, hear and change, study and implement, the more we grow to be like Jesus.  None of us are born “great.”  We are born to serve a “great God!”

One sad truth in Christianity is that some believers never grow up spiritually.  This has been a problem since the start of the church.  The letters to the churches that Paul wrote were in many cases to help the young churches to grow up in their faith. From lustful desires to hateful relationships, the early church needed to grow.

When we do not desire the Word like a baby desires milk, we do not grow like we should.  Examples include:

  • Continuing to be Stubborn in Spirit.
  • Consistently Rebellious in Heart.
  • Contentment in Judging Others.
  • Complaining to Feel Better.
  • Character Assignations of Others.
  • Charging into a Talk with Anger.

Brethren, if you are behaving like the points above, you have some areas to grow up in.  It could be that you think yourself to have “arrived” but you may not give as much value or as much of a lasting testimony to the work of God in your life.  Your behavior is reflecting who you really are.  Your “being” is still in childhood. Feeding on the desires of the flesh and the pride of life need to be exchanged for feeding on the Word of God.  You can do better than being a “Big Baby.”  God can help you grow out of spiritual infanthood.

You got to eat. We must consistently read, study, hear, and apply the Bible to our lives. Decide to grow up in Jesus by consuming more of the Word today.

Salvation is the start to a lifetime of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  Don’t’ just start.  Start and finish.  We do not “arrive” until we get to Heaven. Give grace to others along the way.  Decide to be more like Jesus. Then. Be. Like. Him.