Category Archives: Relationships

Teenage bedroom–hard hat required.

kids-2030268_1920When our youngest went to Peru on a month-long mission trip right before high school, I decided I would take advantage of her absence to clean her room.  Thoroughly.  As in a full-scale geological excavation. 

I found a full laundry basket, only it was stratified with layers of clean, dirty, clean, etc. I unearthed underwear from elementary school, and (if I recall rightly) a hard, green mass under the bed reputed to be petrified Jello—lime, I think.  Continue reading

Advertisements

How to Find Joy

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
Proverbs 14:10, KJV

A well-known (to this site) pastor recently wrote about the struggles pastors face. Pastors have such a weight they carry that can lead to bitterness that many other people may never understand.

Remember: we pastors hear everyone’s struggles, hurts, wrongs, and sins. We deal with the issues of everyday life for most people we know.

It is easy to see all that is wrong with the world when dealing with everyone else’s issues.

Intermeddling Joy?

The plus side, though, is that most people never feel the joy of seeing God work in those issues, seeing lives change, problems redeemed, and grace and love shine through hurt people.

You may have struggles and pains.

You may know your sin better than anyone, how it affects everything you do.

But if you want real joy, trust God to use you to help another. They may never know how blessed you are by their success over sin and pain, but you will find that joy that only comes from the Lord.

Choose joy by overcoming bitterness. Your own and others’.


Be Kind

My wife and I have taught in schools. She has almost only ever taught Kindergarten (about 4 months of not in eight years), and I taught 7th Grade Mathematics and further back in Special Education.

I tell you what, working with a lot of kids can teach a lot about life! Especially how cruel and mean people can be.

A recent movement in the past few years is called “Be Kind”. The name is pretty self explanatory, and they do some good work helping teach students to simply be nice to each other.

Proverbs chapter 12 can be summarized this same way: Be Kind.

Think about it: it starts with advice for controlling yourself (discipline, vv. 1-4), transitions through recognizing it starts with our thoughts (vv. 5-8), moves to our actions toward others (including animals! vv. 9-12), and the majority focuses on what we say (vv. 13-26).

Words probably get the most time because of how much we tear each other down with our words. Sometimes it is unintentional.

But we must remember that kindness starts internally, with our thoughts and beliefs. So, to be kind means we start by changing our thinking, and ultimately it happens by trusting in God.

He first showed His kindness by coming to us lowly sinners to reveal truth and die for our forgiveness. The ultimate kindness is leading others to life in Christ.

The path of the righteous is life, and in its pathway there is no death.
Proverbs 12:28


Puppaccinos and Mercy

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. -Proverbs 12:10, KJV

Mickey loves his Puppaccino, even when he gets stuck.

I love my dogs. We even sometimes call them our “fur babies.” Sometimes I spoil them with a trip to the coffee shop that has Puppaccinos for dogs (whipped cream with dog biscuits on top). I feel bad when they do not get their regularly timed walks or step on a sharp rock or hot asphalt during those walks.

Even though I love these guys, if my wife or another human were in trouble, I would choose the human over them.

Have Mercy

Some people, however, only view animals as property, at best. Their idea of mercy on their dogs is not kicking them very hard or remembering to feed them today.

Oftentimes, these are people who tend to treat many humans similarly. Whether it is being verbally abusive, deceptive, or simply not caring, this type of person would rather record you having a problem than help you.

This thinking infects most of us in some way, ever since the beginning when Cain asked God about Abel, “Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, “How is this my problem? What has it to do with me?”

Jesus turned this thinking on its head, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). To be fondly and righteous means to make others’ problems our own. It means not thinking too highly of oneself, but as a servant to others. It means having compassion and showing mercy on others.

It might even mean caring about what happens to animals. (But always in regards to human life.)


Love is Forgiveness

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. -Proverbs 10:12, KJV

Hatred holds a grudge.

Hatred causes problems for others.

Hatred causes division.

Hatred is taking things into your own hands.

But hatred is not the opposite of love.

The opposite of love is fear.

Fear is often the motivator for everything hatred becomes.

The best remedy comes out of love and is the definition of covering all sins:

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the wrongs.

Forgiveness does not mean trust.

Forgiveness is saying, “I will not let fear control me.”

Forgiveness is saying, “I will not focus on what you did to me.”

Forgiveness is saying, “You are more important than that to me.”

Forgiveness is letting God take the wrong and change your heart. Maybe to change theirs.


Measure Twice …

When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth -Proverbs 8:27‭-‬29 ESV

God did not begin Creation until He had begun with wisdom.

It makes sense. Jesus, also called the Wisdom of God, gave us hints:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Luke 14:28

God is smart. He planned and then built.

God’s Greatest Work

However, His universe building pales in comparison to His greatest work: Making us new.

We must remember that right relationship of us with Him was always His goal, a holy people who would give Him glory and love as He lavishes love on us.

… Cut Once

My dad, like Jesus and His earthly father, is a carpenter. He instilled in me the axiom “Measure twice, cut once.” That is, take time to accurately prepare so that you are not constantly fixing mistakes.

We should do the same with Jesus. The passage quoted above is a about the cost of discipleship.

Do we realize we must take up our cross (Luke 14:27)?

Do we realize we must radically change our thinking and actions, that we must tell a fallen world they are destined for destruction, and that it could cost us financially, materially, even bodily (basically Matthew 5-7 and … much of what Jesus said)?

If we do not wisely count the cost, we will be constantly re-cutting things from our lives, things that should have been done. We may even finding ourselves asking for forgiveness from God again.

Let God finish the work He started. Trust the Master Builder to cut and rebuild, and realize what it may cost you.

It cost Him Jesus.


Stealing Passions

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. -Proverbs 6:30‭-‬31, KJV

These two verses are in the midst of a chapter warning against adultery. Therefore, while we could discuss understandable thievery, let us continue only talking about sex.

Stolen fruit

Think about: when committing adultery, that love and passion is stolen from at least one other person (two of both are married). That time together is stealing from time that could be spent with family. Or even God.

The fruit of relationships is love, time, and fellowship, and all of that is taken away because something “feels right.”

We can understand when someone steals for unger, though it is still wrong. Our world tries to argue that if they love each other it is understandable, because they clearly were not having their desires fed at home. (Even though some people have perfectly satisfying relationships yet still “stumble”.)

Paying it back

But does that make it okay?

Look at the marriages that fall apart, the lengthy process of deciding who gets how much of whatever, or the lawsuits that happen.

It literally costs the substance of a household when adulterers are caught stealing these passions.

Adulterated Religion

Misrepresenting God, diluting or misapplying His Word, leading others astray, and otherwise treating others unlovingly is the same as stealing from and committing adultery against God.

We can understand not wanting to offend someone or bringing [temporary] comfort to others, but it is still “stealing from God” by not fulfilling His perfect truth.

And this can lead to Jesus dismissing us later with those feared words, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)