Archive for the 'relationships' Category

Clumsy or Savvy?

Polar Bears are adorable because they are so clumsy-they lumber around the Arctic slipping and sliding on the ice, and falling headfirst into the snow. For a polar bear, clumsy is cute. My husband, bless his heart, is a little bit clumsy. He can walk down the hall of our house and pictures will “jump off the wall!” I don’t give him dishes in the kitchen made of glass. They somehow seem to fall out of his hands onto the floor. People who are clumsy in relationships are not so cute. Do you know how to read the needs of others, or do you just roll over their emotions like a bulldozer? When we have processed our own pain and our hurts are mourned and comforted, it gives us the ability to see the needs of those around us. We become need-meeters, not need-depleters. The non-verbal cues you receive from your friends may cause tension in a variety of ways. If you operate in a dysfunctional manner, with hidden agendas and unrevealed expectations, you might as well check into Alcoholics Anonymous together. Instead, start the friendship by laying all the cards on the table. If you don’t have enough emotional energy to pursue the relationship at the level of your friend, tell them. Where boundaries need to be set, lay them out. I don’t know about you, but watching a movie with subtitles can be exhausting. So can a friendship where nobody lays the cards on the table.

Proverbs 25:20-“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” Mirroring is a technique utilized by counselors when a patient is hysterically spinning out of control.

One of our pastor friends was a missionary to Alaska. He worked with Eskimos, and Jim was a real boozer. Jim stumbled into the churchhouse one Sunday so liquored up and enraged, he knocked over tables and chairs like they were toothpicks.

This savvy pastor began to gesticulate like Bigfoot with the same large, overbearing body language as his boorish parishioner. Every time Jim would speak, Joe would gradually make his body language more quiet and controlled. By reflecting back nonverbal cues, the pastor brought the wino under control.

If your friend is hurting or depressed your response can either comfort her or drive her away. When a buddy mourns, do you tell her the nine spiritual reasons why she shouldn’t feel that way? Do you try to cheer her up by telling her all the good things that are going on in your life? Or do you mourn with her and comfort her in her pain?

King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 writes: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. A time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

There are teachable moments and tearful moments. Raise your “people antenna” and begin to sense the needs others around you!

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Paws and Reflect

Why do dogs have paws? Don’t their feet get chilly? What about stickers, hot concrete, dog poo, and mud? Why not wear doggie booties, platforms, pumps, or loafers? (Although I know a few dog owners who subject their reluctant canines to such footwear…) The dogs seem annoyed with the whole clothing thing. But paws protect our furry friends. For some reason, God designed Doggie pawpads to be tough and durable. We live in Cactusville, so they have to learn to step lightly…Although this is a really bad pun, pawsing to reflect on our lives also protects us. As we begin a new year, it might be nice to spend some time quietly asking ourselves a few questions.

How much do we enjoy our own yard, or how often do we spend our time longing for the green grass of a neighbor’s? How quickly are we ready to throw poo at the other doggies in the neighborhood? Do we scratch and bite, or do we cuddle and paw? Do we ever take time for a nap on the porch, just watching the clouds go by? And finally, do we love and follow our Master, or do we tug at the leash? A great Bible verse says “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” That’s great advice for puppies and people. It’s the “paws that refreshes!”

Jennifer Aniston-Why the Jennfest?

Poor Jennifer Aniston. I don’t care if you like her acting. How would you like to have your relationships, your failures, your disapppointments, splashed on every Us, People, and In Touch gossip magazine for all the world to see? And how much of the gossip is true? Does she have to see one more picture of Brad and Angelina? According to her, the printed words are so painful, they destroy her life. Give the girl her privacy!

James, the brother of Jesus expounded on this truth in his letter:

“The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is ITSELF set on fire by hell.” We can relate to the power of the tongue by standing in the defendant’s shoes in a courtroom. The jury hands a piece of paper to the judge. One or two words can steer the course of your future. Guilty or not guilty. That’s the difference between freedom and the death penalty. Our words can lift and encourage someone to go on or assassinate someone’s character and drive them to despair. Even a simpleton knows that words are powerful.

Jorge Rodriguez was the meanest bandit on the Arizona-Mexico border. He often slipped across the border to raid the banks of southern Arizona. He’d steal them blind. Finally, the Arizona marshals decided to put the toughest border patrol officer they had on the case. After only a few days of searching, the Ranger found the bandito in a dingy, dusty bar in Sonora. The officer bolted into the bar, pulled both guns, and yelled, “Okay, stick ‘em up, Jorge; you’re under arrest. I know you’ve got the stolen cash.” Suddenly a little guy over in the corner butted in. “Wait, wait…just a moment senor,” he said. Jorge does not speak English. He’s my amigo, so I’ll translate for you.” The Ranger explained, ‘Look, we know he’s the robber we’ve been looking for. We know he’s stolen over $50,000 U.S. dollars. We want it back PRONTO. Either he pays up or I’ll fill him full of holes. You tell him that! “Okay, Okay! I’ll tell him.” So the translator turned to Jorge and repeated in Spanish everything the Ranger had said. Jorge listened, frowned, then responded in Spanish. ‘Okay, I give up. Tell him to go down to the well just south of town, count four stones down from the top of the well, then pull out the one loose stone. All the money I have stolen I’ve hidden behind the stone.” The translator turned to the Border Patrol agent and said. “Jorge says, Go ahead and shoot me, you stupid Gringo. I’ll never tell you where the money is!!!” Ambassadors are mediators whose wise words can save lives and bring peace among warring nations. Good news brings hope and health to the listener. When is the last time you watched the NBC Nightly News and felt better about yourself and the world you live in? We could really use some good news!

Words of encouragement can profoundly impact someone’s character and self-esteem. It may take a lifetime of damage control to recover from Dad’s cruel jab—“Son, you’ll never amount to anything!” In a country church in Italy, a small altar boy dropped the communion wine. The village priest slapped him and said, “You clumsy idiot. Get out of here and never come back!” Another priest in the south of Italy had a clutzy altar boy. When the wine fell from the cruet, the priest smiled at the boy and said “one day you’ll be a fine priest…now fill the cruet again.”

The first altar boy grew up to be the godless Italian dictator Marshall Tito. The second chubby cherub grew up to be Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Words can propel or destroy.

Let’s give Jennifer a break. Say something nice, or don’t say anything at all.

Rosie, Donald, Mel and Lindsay…Is it hoof and mouth disease?

Rosie O’Donnell goes head to head with Donald Trump over her smart-mouthed comment about his judgment concerning a hard-partying Miss U.S.A. Mel Gibson creates a stunning movie masterpiece called “The Passion of the Christ” and then insults his audience with an anti-Semitic drunken tirade. Wispy little starlets like Lindsey Lohan have their insulting little gossip wars spattered over the latest trashy magazine. Didn’t that sound like the catfights you overheard in the high school girl’s bathroom?

Have you ever played “telephone’? You know, it’s that cute little game where you whisper down the line and see how closely the last person can quote the first one. The telephone game is especially difficult if one of the players has braces or earwax. This little exercise is much more true-to-life than we would like to admit. Gossip is a favorite feminine pastime. It is a shame we are so predisposed to scandal. Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs that angry words or slanderous words spell disaster to human relationships. The crafty monarch teaches us many powerful lessons about the tongue. Proverbs 10:18-“He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” The tongue can reveal much about our physical health—if it is coated, we may have an intestinal virus—if it is red, we may have an infection.

Solomon, James and Jesus all taught us about the symbiotic relationship between our tongues and our hearts. In Matthew 12:34-35 Jesus talked about the tongue-the litmus paper that reveals our soul. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” The best way to be sure we don’t stomp the hearts of people around us is to have a loving attitude—to see the good in people and to give them the benefit of the doubt instead of the benefit of the slop!

Dreamgirls

Every girl wants to be a dreamgirl. One day you’re singing in the shower, and the next day, you are singing on the stage! Not to mention the wigs, the glittery outfits, and the cheering throng. Jennifer Hudson is living that dream. She started as a shy, chubby songbird on American Idol and graduated to a big-league diva in a matter of months. Very few dreamgirls are born with the silver spoon in their mouths. Kate Hudson, maybe-the sticklike ditzy blonde born to sixties “It Girl” Goldie Hawn. Drew Barrymore-offspring of the famous Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore-got a boost from the Golden Age of Hollywood glitterati. But how about you and me? Maybe your parents were schoolteachers or plumbers in Podunk, Louisiana. How can we live the dream? Well, we have the opportunity to be rich heiresses. We don’t have to own a hotel chain like Paris and Nicky Hilton. The Bible tells us we are heirs to the riches of heaven and the blessings on earth. Jesus came to redeem the world. He bought it back with His blood when He died on the cross. John the disciple wrote these words: “The true light (Jesus) that lights up every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own people, and they didn’t receive Him. Yet to all who received Jesus, the ones who believed in His name (that He was God’s son and came to give eternal life to the world by the ransom that He paid on the cross), He gave the right to become children of God-not children of natural descent, nor of human decision, but born of God. John 1:8-12, (Julie’s paraphrase). Every movie star would like to escape the aging process-no plastic surgery, nothing drooping or falling apart. God says when we invite Jesus into our lives, we have life forever. We cheat death. Cool, huh? WE have all of His riches. We even get crowns for all sorts of great stuff.

I even read in John 14 that there are mansions in heaven and we each get one. The ones in California are subject to smogs and earthquakes. These are better. Now why would God want us to be Dreamgirls? Just one reason-He loves us. He loved us before we were even born, and He wants to bless every aspect of our lives. Now that’s what I call a dream come true!

Honeymoon’s Last Resort!

As females, we must often train the males of the species in basic relational skills. For example, the hubby thinks to himself-“I need to say something about her trip to the beauty shop” so he yells, “Hey Babe, what’s up with your hair?” Another really wise male maneuver is to never ever answer your wife’s question-“Does this make me look fat?” I met a pastor-husband last week who gave his wife a bathroom scale and a set of hand weights for her birthday. I am almost sure he had a death wish. Even traffic safety signs are written with some decorum-“Please drive slowly, we love our children.” Not, “Gun it, we’ll make more!” If God had given King Solomon more wisdom than anyone on earth, he would have certainly bestowed some empathy on the dynamic monarch. Solomon never would have survived the estrogen onslaught of his bloated harem without a touch of savoir-faire. And here’s a little secret–You don’t have to be a MENSA member to have successful people-skills. In fact the opposite can be true. If you look at the left brain human capacity for engineering, math and science, you will find that those individuals (most of them male) have less relational skills than right-brained people. The abstract-random creative, touchy-feely right brainers can’t find their way out of a parking lot, but they can read the body language of a friend in distress. If you are very, very high on the left-brained end of the spectrum, you may have autism or asberger’s syndrome. These people cannot read the emotions of those around them. In fact, successful long-term relationships are almost impossible. But these guys are the ones you want to balance your checkbook and fix your computer. The right-brainers can sniff out hurt, pain and fear a mile away, but please don’t ask them to carry a watch or work a Blackberry.

Solomon, in his fatherly moments, had a great deal to say about relating to others with sensitivity and kindness. His wisdom would serve us well in our everyday lives with our families, our friends and our neighbors. Let’s start where the rubber meets the road-honesty. Proverbs 27:6-“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 26:23-26 “Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart.” Sine cera is a stamp that appeared on Middle Eastern pottery in Bible times. If a pot was cracked some shady merchants would fill the cracks with wax. The pots looked spiffy on the outside, but they fell to pieces when grandma started cooking her favorite matzo bread. A pot that was all one piece was given a badge of honor that read “without wax.” Sincerity is a powerful part of a successful relationship. What you see is what you get.

 


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