Monday, November 28, 2011



When you think of the word saint what comes to mind?

If you're like most people you're likely to think of those who have left all the comforts and niceties of life in order to serve others.

You probably think of those who have sold all their possessions to serve on the mission fields of Africa or some other country that you can't even pronounce.



Mother Teresa certainly comes to mind, how can she not, she served on the mission fields of Calcutta, India for over 45 years. She ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying of Calcutta.

She has to be on the top of the top ten list right?





As I was having my Bible reading the other day in the book of Philippians, I was struck with how the apostle Paul referred to the Christians who live in Philippi; the apostle Paul addressed these believers as "saints" in Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:1b).



So I did a little digging and discovered that the word for saint literally means holy, and that the idea of holy is to be set apart.

As we go through the Bible we discover that all believers are saints, all believers are holy, and all believers are set apart for God.

Now the good stuff---since God has declared  that you are a saint, holy, set apart, then you are holy. This saintliness or holiness is not yours, it was given to you when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

All believers are saints, not because we are righteous in ourselves, but because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus (Rom. 4:22-24).



Our understanding of the word saint has been somewhat twisted. We have come to believe that saints are a special higher order of Christians who accomplished extraordinary good deeds and lived an exemplary life. The danger here is that it leads us to believe that we have some holiness or saintliness of our own.


If you are a child of God, then you are holy, not because of any innate holiness of your own, but because God has set you apart and declared that you are holy.We are like the poor beggar, we are destitute of any righteousness or holiness of our own. This is exactly what Jesus meant in His sermon on the mount  when he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God" (Matt.5:3).




The child of God is the one who realizes that he is poor and destitute before a Holy and Righteous God. The child of God looks to God and rests in His grace and mercy.The child of God realizes that it is in recognizing his own poor condition before God that he finds eternal life.



The old hymn, "Jesus paid it all", shows us that it is not our goodness, righteousness, or holiness, but God's work in our lives:
  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.” 
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
    •  
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.













Saturday, November 26, 2011

Simple


Sometimes you just need to put off all the cares of life and just meditate on this one simple truth:


"JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO."


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John. 3:16).


Please take the time to read this fascinating account of one of the greatest Christian linguists of all time:


Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930) was fluent in 45 languages and dialects, including all of the Biblical and cognate languages, such as Hebrew, Greek, Babylonian, Phoenician, Coptic, various Aramaic dialects, French, German, and so forth. 45 languages and dialects in all.

Wilson could already read at the early age of four, and by the age of five he had read, among other books, Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies. Wilson graduated from Princeton University at the age of 20, and he read the New Testament fluently in nine languages by the time he got to seminary. He had memorized the entire New Testament in Hebrew, along with portions of the Old Testament, and it is said the he could recite the New Testament in Hebrew without missing so much as a syllable.
Dick Wilson demolished the critics of his day, especially the likes of the heretic S. R. Driver and the Graf-Wellhausen School. Wilson's major publications, in which he not only annihilated the liberal critics, but also fortified the foundations of the study of the Old Testament with brilliant elucidations and conclusions, like nobody before or since, were, The Scientific Investigation Of The Old Testament, Is Higher Criticism Scholarly, Studies In the Book Of Daniel (a two-volume masterpiece, and THE classic defence of the book of Daniel), and a host of papers and treatises in various publications. An example of Wilson's genuis and scholarship can be seen in this short paper -- The Veracity Of The Old Testament -- which delivers conclusive evidence for the accuracy of the foundation and transmission of the Hebrew Text.
Wilson became the leading professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he spent many years defending the Bible against all comers, as well as turning out students with a sound foundation of rare learning. Nearing the age of seventy, Wilson nevertheless produced a stirring moment for his students when, after a dissertation on the complete trustworthiness of Scripture, the renowned scholar said with tears streaming down his face --



"Young men, there are many mysteries in this life I do not pretend to understand, many things hard to explain. But I can tell you this morning with the fullest assurance that --




Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cracks in the Wall

The longer I live the more I realize how little I know.


Over the years I've found myself uncomfortable with sweeping generalities...with all inclusive statements, with just accepting things as they are, just because they have always been that way.

In the area of my theology, I look back over the years and see where I don't hold the same positions today that I held in the past.


One of the greatest traps that we can fall into is to stop thinking, stop challenging the status quo.

 "An unexamined life is not worth living." -
  --  Socrates










Matthew 15:1-9 gives us tremendous insight into the dangers of just following religious tradition without thinking.


The religious leaders of Jesus' day (the scribes and pharisees) accused the disciples of breaking the tradition of the elders verse 1.


The religious leaders accused the disciples of not washing their hands before they ate---thus breaking the tradition (the extra biblical law) of the official institutional religious system of the Jews verse 2.


The rest of the verses (3-9) record the rebuke of Jesus---giving an example of how tradition contradicted the clear teaching of the Scriptures.

One of the traditions taught that a person does not have to take care of their parents in their old age. The tradition taught that children could set aside money for GWAD (god = the religious leaders) while ignoring the needs of their elderly parents.

Jesus sharply rebukes the religious leaders and their un-scriptural tradition by quoting from Exodus 20:12 that says to "honor your mother and father." The Jews knew that part of honoring their parents was to make sure that their parents financial needs were met.

Jesus concludes, with yet another rebuke to the religious leaders---he tells them that it is not what goes into the mouth that makes a man evil, but it is what comes out of the mouth (comes from the heart-the center of our being) that makes a man evil.

Jesus goes back into the Old Testament and quotes from the book of Isaiah---telling the religious leaders that the prophet Isaiah foretold of people like you. Jesus said that you are the people that honor God with your mouth and lips, but your HEART is far from God.






The goal of the Christian life is to allow our thinking to be informed by the authoritative Word of God. Don't just accept the teachings of your church or pastor, priest, or your religious leader; challenge, think, argue, by being INFORMED BY THE WORD OF GOD.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HOPE


We all have experienced brokenness at times in our lives! No one is exempt.



Job cries out in anguish as the pain of brokenness overwhelms him, " Let the day perish on which I was born. And the night which said, 'A boy is conceived'" (Job. 3:3).








Bob Dylan seemed to capture the sentiments of Job in one of his classic songs "Everything is Broken"

Broken bottles, broken plates,
Broken switches, broken gates,
Broken dishes, Broken parts,
Streets are filled with broken hearts.
Broken words words never meant to be spoken, 
Everything is broken.


The farther you are on the journey of life the more you see the "messiness of life:" sorrows, disappointments, unrealized dreams, broken relationships, addictions that have so disfigured a loved one they are barely recognizable.

Gerald Manley Hopkins asks, "O why are we so haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed...so cogged, so cumbered?"

Johnny Cash's life came to a grinding halt; having lived life in the fast land for decades, his life was ready to crash and burn. Johnny Cash noted that he tried everything, and everything had failed him. However, those old-time hymns that he learned on his mother's knee would speak to him during his darkest nights:
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!




The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah tells us that we are like sheep who have gone astray, wandering from the Shepard---and God the Father has laid our sin upon His son (Isaiah. 53:6).

The HOPE and CURE for our brokenness is found in a restored relationship with our God. Sin has separated us from God, and man lives in this broken relationship with his creator until he comes back and allows God to restore this broken and damaged relationship.

Let me share a link to the "lift me up" song, by "The Afters," very uplifting and encouraging. God can restore and give us hope when all seems hopeless: The Afters new video, "Lift Me Up"



Monday, November 21, 2011

What is Joy


John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Philippians writes about joy, noting that "Biblical joy [is] the settled conviction that God sovereignly controls the events of life for believers' good and His glory...."

Let's just take some time and meditate on that thought.

Biblical joy is to be differentiated from the happiness of the world. The happiness of the world is dependent on life's circumstances; worldly happiness, therefore, is fickle and fluctuating, always dependent on outside circumstances.

Biblical joy finds its roots and foundation in the conviction that God is sovereign and He controls the events in our lives. 

Biblical joy is also rooted in the conviction that God loves us and is working all things out for our good. Our good may not be what we think. According to the Scripture, our good is when "Christ is being formed in us" (Gal. 4:9), in other words, we are growing spiritually to look more like Jesus.



Ultimately, the whole of the "christian life" is not about us, it is for His glory (Rom. 11:36).

Let us live our lives in obedience to God for His glory, and I guarantee that you will experience true Biblical Joy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Gift Of Writing


Another sub job in my school district another lesson learned. Let me get right to it, as I was wandering the halls after school I noticed in one of the hallways there was a tribute to the great writers of the world.

I started to read some of the poems and short stories posted by some of the students, however, there was one poem that caught my attention. 

The title of the poem was "why I write." The student expressed that writing gives VOICE to what she feels. The poem said with much force and emotion that writing gives her a VEHICLE to say those things that were on her mind.

This got me to thinking about the Bible. God has given us His voice, His mind, His Will, in one glorious book; the Bible.

Think for a minute about the history of writing and in particular the history of how the Bible was transmitted to us: We have baked clay, parchment, papyrus, vellum, and Gutenberg's printing press and all were used as a medium for God to give us his voice.

 (For those who would like to investigate the history of how we got our Bibles here is an excellent resource): http://www.anabaptists.org/history/howwegot.html





Let us not leave our Bibles on the shelves to collect dust; pick up your Bible, love God's Word, study God's Word, remembering that "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him" (proverbs 30:5, New International Version).

Take God's flawless Word and let it be the meditation of your heart day and night, psalm 1:2.




Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stress....who needs it?

Stress affects us all, and none escape its wear and tear.



ONE STRESSED OUT-SECRETARY told her boss: "When this rush is over, I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I earned it, I deserve it, and nobody's going to take it from me."




The American Institute of Stress tells us that, job stress is very costly with the price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually. Here are some additional facts compiled by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;
25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives;
Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago;
29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work;
26 % of workers said they were "often or very often burned out or stressed by their work";
Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.

Now keep in mind that these statistics are only dealing with work place stress, now add to that, marital stress, relational stress, financial stress, and, well, I think you get the picture, stress plays a big part in our lives.


The effects of stress on our bodies can be staggering. Migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, bruxism (gnashing of teeth), kidney disorders, hardening of the arteries, heart disease, ulcers and a list of other health maladies.

Stress also affects the way we think and feel. Stress is also associated with adjustment disorders, conduct disorders, (hostility, aggression, neurosis, and psychoses).

I don't think that too many people would disagree about the damaging affects of stress. But by now you have to be asking, "Yeah, I agree stress is bad, but is there any hope?"


Howard Taylor, in Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, gives us good advice when it comes to stress:


"IT DOESN'T MATTER how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies. whether it comes between me and God or whether it presses me nearer His heart."





Annie Johnson's beautiful hymn, Pressed out of measure, Pressured beyond all length also gives us some keen insight on how to handle the daily grind of stress, she writes:


Pressed out of measure, pressed beyond all length;
Pressed so intensely, seeming beyond strength;
Pressed in the body, pressed within the soul,
Pressed in the mind till darksome surges roll.

God is my hope and God is my joy;
He is the resurrection life I enjoy.

Pressure by foes, and pressure from our friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends;
Pressed into knowing none to help but God,
Pressed into loving both the staff and rod

There is a poem by Wilfred Peterson that can also give us comfort and peace when the pressures and stresses of life get us worn down:

Slow me down Lord:


Slow me down, Lord!

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the music of the singing streams that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magic restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations ... of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day of the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise that I may know that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing speed.

Let me look forward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater
destiny.

 

The cure for anxiety:

We are to bring our concerns to God in prayer.

We are to look to God as the only one that can truly help us in our time of need.

We are to look at pressure (anxiety) as a tool used by God to bring us to trust in Him.

We are to realize that God is bigger than all our problems.

Closing Thought: The Christian Life is to be lived for the Glory of God, allow God to use
the daily pressures and stresses to bring you into a deeper relationship with Himself.



"Casting all you care upon Him for he cares for you" (1 peter 5:7).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CONSCIENCE:







Of all the gifts God has given to man, I must say, "conscience" ranks at the top of the list.






 Did you ever hear the saying, "let your conscience be your guide" well,  that may be reliable or it may not, it all depends on HOW our consciences are informed.


Think of your conscience as a GPS, guiding you in all your moral decisions. Keep in mind, that any GPS is simply a receiver being informed by  a constellation of 27 Earth-orbiting  satellites.


In order for your GPS to work properly it must be guided and informed by these satellites.  Our consciences are in some ways similiar to a GPS, in order for our consciences to work correctly they must be properly informed.


Our consciences can experience unhealthy guilt  (improperly informed) as well as healthy guilt (properly informed).




How are our consciences properly informed? Conscience needs to receive its signals from the Word of God. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy. 3:16, New International Version).


It makes sense since God has created us with a conscience that He would also give us the satellite (Bible) to properly inform our consciences.






In Edgar Allen Poe's short story The Tell-Tale Heart we see a what can happen to a conscience that has not been properly informed or has just been totally ignored.

The man in the story continues to hear the beating of the old mans heart even though he is dead. A conscience that has been misinformed or ignored can truly bring one to madness.
















Let us thank our great God for giving us 1 John 1:9 "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


The power of the cross can restore our damaged consciences and offer us forgiveness of  sins, hallelujah, praise God!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WE ALL NEED TO BE COUNSELED

The Psalter in Psalm 119:24 exclaims that, God's testimonies were his delight; and that God's words were his counselors.

We need God's Word to counsel us because:

  • We can easily lose our way
  • We are so easily deceived                                                                                                                    
  • We need God's wisdom                                                                                         
  • We need to be encouraged and lifted up                                                                                                                                                                                             
Let us ask God to open the eyes of our understanding as we seek to understand His counsel for our lives.

Let us ask God to give us the desire to become students of His book.

Let us ask God to give us marvelous and wonderful truths from His Word.

Remember the Bible is God's revealed truth to us, let us become students of the BOOK. 
                                         

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fifth Grade Science Class


Every now and then I will do some substitute teaching. I randomly choose what grade level and subject to teach. I recently choose to teach the Fifth Grade Science Class.


Now anyone who has tried their hand at subbing knows that it is a hit or miss game. And the question was answered for me; "are you smarter than a fifth grader."



As I started to prepare for the day's lesson, I discovered that I would be teaching a topic that I didn't know much about. So, as any good sub would do, I pulled out my SMART phone and started to ask for some help. 

I asked my smart phone to explain the difference between a longitudinal wave, transverse wave, and a standing wave. I also needed to know the difference between a mechanical wave and an electromagnetic wave, phew! I learned that mechanical waves differ from electromagnetic waves in that mechanical waves need a medium (particles) in order to move.


 My fifth grade science lesson got me to think how God uses the medium of trials in our lives to make us grow.

James 1:2-4 tell us, all trials that test our faith produce christian character and will make us mature and complete in our christian walk.

So just like sound waves need a medium to move, so the believer needs trials to grow. Trials are the medium through which the believer must travel in order to be moved, stretched, and grown.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Proverbs to live by

How will you finish your journey in life?

Will you finish strong? Will you leave behind a lasting legacy?

The older I get, the greater the impact this thought has on me. How will I finish?

All over the news is the story of the scandal that has rocked Penn State. Joe Paterno, the symbol of Penn State football has had his career and life come to a grinding halt---because he did not step-up and do MORE in the child abuse scandal at his school.

History is replete with those who did not finish well, both secular history and Biblical history.

We need the grace of God in our lives to finish well.

We need the wisdom of God to finish well.

We need the counsel of others to finish well.

We need humility to finish well.

We need to feel the impact of others who have not finished well.

Our great God, we come before you in brokenness and deep humility acknowledging our needs, we confess without your grace our lives will come to a grinding halt.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is the Mission of the Church? Part 4







So now we get to the meat of the matter, Matthew 28:16-20 tells us exactly what the MISSION of the Church ought to be. In yesterday's blog we discussed that the Church does not operate under its own authority, but that the Church functions UNDER the authority of Christ (v.18).

An easy way to break down these five verses in Matthew, is to look at the four imperative verbs in the text and give a little exegesis on each one. Actually, there is one main verb with three supporting participles. Let's go back to grammar school real for a second, here is a quick and simple definition of a participle: A participle is basically a verb that works as an adjective. In other words, it looks like a verb, but modifies a noun  http://blogs.kansas.com/grammar/2010/03/10/what-is-a-participle-anyway/#ixzz1dJEvUE00.

 Here we go, the main verb in our text is "MAKE DISCIPLES."
  • Making followers of Christ is therefore the first and most important mission of the Church.
Now remember the other three pseudo verbs really act to explain the main verb--- of making disciples.

Therefore the process of making disciples involves: going, baptizing, and teaching. Let us look at each one briefly:
 
  • The command to "GO" has been interpreted in one of two ways in the past. One way to look at it is just a straight command to go---as missionaries do it, they go all over the world to make disciples.


  • Another way to interpret this command to GO, is, "as you are already going;" or as you are "living your life from day to day" you should be making disciples. It is not viewed so much as a command to go somewhere specific, but rather it is viewed more as you are living your daily lives, and in that  daily routine of life, you should be making disciples.






The process of disciple making continues with BAPTISM. What does baptism represent? It shows or implies that an individual has had his/her sins forgiven and will now walk in newness of life.









Finally the process is complete with TEACHING. Sound Biblical teaching completes the discipleship process---Jesus wants obedient, mature followers, who in time will be able to go and reproduce this process in others.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is the Mission of the Church? Part 2

In the last post I sort of got side-tracked, but I thought that is was necessary to lay out a clear definition of the Church. If you remember the definition from the New Testament Greek Lexicon, the church is a gathering and an assembly---the definition also carries the idea of being "called out". The church is a called out body of believers that gather and assemble together to worship God.

Since God from before time began---called out or chose a people for Himself (the church) it is incumbent then for us to determine what God wants us (church) to do (mission).    


 Let me share some of my own personal experiences that I've had with the church, and they have been as varied as a bag of skittles. I've been involved with the church close to 35 years. I was raised a Roman Catholic. My journey then took me to various Charismatic Churches, to an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, to a House Church, and to several Independent Evangelical churches. 

From my experiences with churches, I've met some of the coolest people ever: One family that I can recall were so instrumental in helping Michele and I by giving us the necessary child rearing tools to help us in our new journey to raise a family, looking back we don't know how we would have done it without their Godly influence (thank you Lee&Marianne). 

We made life long friends with those that we crossed our paths with in the church world. Many helped us in our times of financial hardships, or when we struggled with our son who came way too early (two months). There were those that wept with us and who rejoiced with us. 

This is the body of Christ. God's people loving, caring, and praying for each other. This is the CHURCH. This is what the Church looks like.


So that is all the good stuff; and there is much more, but due to time I need to move on. I would like to share some of my negative experiences with you concerning the church. Looking back on these negative experiences, I can now make a pretty good assessment on WHY I had negative experiences with the Church.

When the church starts to be run like a corporation, when the church becomes program centered, and not people centered, when the church becomes church centered and not Christ centered; it is then that the Church has lost its mission.



So then what exactly should the Church be doing? How can the Church go back when she wanders off track? Now keep in mind that the Church is the body of Christ---assembled together for worship, preaching, and teaching God's truth.

With all that necessary introduction, I would like to examine the Great Commission texts found in the Bible (Matt.28:16-20; Mark.13:10; 14:9; Luke. 24:44-40; Acts.1:8). These texts tell us exactly what the Mission of the Church is (or how to get back on track).

In our next blog, we will flesh out some of the MISSION contained in these texts. See ya later!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is the Mission of the Church? Part 1

                                                                   

 You may say, "sounds like a pretty straight forward question," and on the surface it is, but if we dig a little deeper it really is an extremely deep and controversial question. 

You might ask, "is it even important?" you might even further ask, "how is it relevant to my life?" You might even say, " who cares!" But since the Bible has so much to say about the mission of the Church it automatically becomes important. So here we go.

Let's start with a quick definition of the church: First, the church is not a building with steeples and bells.
The definition of the church has to be looked at from two different angles: The VISIBLE and the INVISIBLE. You are probably saying what is this guy talking about? Well, the VISIBLE Church is made up of all those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible calls them the body of Christ (Eph.4:12; Rom. 12:5). Physically they can be seen as they gather for worship in buildings on Sunday mornings. 

Another important way that the Bible talks about the Church; is that the Church is made up of all those whom God has chosen before time even began (INVISIBLE), all believers who have ever lived, who are living now, and who are yet to live (Eph.1:4; Rom. 11:29).

The New Testament Greek Lexicon defines the Greek word church (ekklesia): as a gathering or assembly http://www.searchgodsword.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=1577

So let me put together a workable definition: The Church consists of all of those whom God has chosen from before time began who are at present time assembling and gathering together for fellowship and worship, phew I'm tired!            
Now that we have a workable definition of the Church; we can try to answer the question what is the mission of the Church? But due to time we'll have to wait for another blog, sorry folks.


Friday, November 4, 2011

(7) The Art Of Communication


Admitting our mistakes is probably, oh not probably, but most definitely, one of the hardest things for us fallible humans to do. Bill Hybels in his book Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs notes that, "Admitting your mistakes says something profound about your basic integrity as a leader."



So, admitting your mistakes speaks to your individual integrity. You might ask, "what does integrity have to do with me admitting my mistakes," Well that's a legitimate question, let's try to discover the answer together.

Dictionary.com defines integrity as: 1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

There is one word that jumps out in this definition, it is the word honesty! to be honest is to be whole, complete, and undiminished. Integrity says that our lives line up with those things that we say we believe.

As I was thinking about what keeps us from being able to hear hard things about ourselves; the one thing that kept coming to mind was the word defensiveness. Author Norman Wright tells us that, "It's a wall that pushes others away. I t makes a statement about your desire to grow. It blocks communication."



Here are some ideas from Wright's book on communication that can help us admit when  we are wrong:

1. Evaluate the criticism for validity (ask yourself is there any truth to the charge against me)
2. Clarify the root problem (understand the criticism from the other person's point of view)
3. Respond positively and confidently (yes, I was wrong and I'll take the necessary steps to correct the problem)

What does the Bible say about our refusal to admit our mistakes, take a listen, it is pretty insightful:

Don't refuse to accept criticism (Prov. 23:12).

It is a badge of honor to accept valid criticism (Prov. 25:12).

If you refuse criticism you will end in poverty and disgrace (Prov. 13:18).

Let me share a personal story from the Osisek household. One day not too long ago, our five year old grandson decided that he needed to go to the bathroom. Now, let me back up just a little-I've become thoroughly domesticated since being out of the work force since 2009. My lovely wife has been carrying the load, so in my efforts to share the work load I've become a cook, and a house cleaner.

So on this day, I just finished cleaning the downstairs bathroom, which is not to fun, my least favorite job. As I go into the bathroom to admire my handiwork, lo and behold, there is a yellow liquid all over the toilet seat. I call my grandson into the bathroom and admonish him and ask him to clean up HIS mess, and much to my chagrin he turns and looks me dead in the eyes and says, "I didn't do it pop-pop, you did."

After a lengthy battle with a five year old (you'll never win) about the responsibility of cleaning up after yourself and admitting when your wrong; I think he almost convinced me that I did do it!

Moral of story: the defensiveness and the push back to admit our wrongs starts at a very young age and if left unchecked becomes a habit that is hard to break when we get older. 

Let's come before our King, acknowledge our pride and ask for the ability to admit our wrong and accept responsibility when we pee on the toilet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

(6) The Art Of Communication

 


This blog is somewhat of a continuation of yesterday's thought-but the weight of this topic compels me to write a little more on the idea of "thinking before we speak." 

Remember those heavy weight verses on the negative impact of our careless words that are found in the book of Proverbs "careless words stab like a sword," and "Do you see a person who speaks to quickly there is more hope for a foolish person than for them (prov.21:23; 29:20).

Have there been times in your life when you said, Uh-oh, I wish I hadn't said that. I wish I could take it back. But remember once the words are out you can't get them back. There is no delete button, no rewind button. Just remember the power of your words-and when used the wrong way how they can inflict insurmountable damage. Our words can wound, bruise, and damage a person for a life-time

Let me share a forceful story from Chuck Swindoll's devotional "Growing Strong In The Seasons Of Life:"

A young boy lived with his grandfather on the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear the sound of his own voice echoing back to him he would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, "HELLO...hello...hello..."Then he would call out, "I LOVE YOU... I LOVE YOU...I love you...I love you...I love you..."

One day the boy seriously misbehaved and his grandfather disciplined him severely. Reacting violently, the child shook his fist and screamed, "I HATE YOU!...To his surprise, the rocks and boulders across the mountainside responded in kind: I HATE YOU...I HATE YOU...I hate you...I hate you...I hate you..."


I don't mean to be a bummer but God's word tells us in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account for every careless word ever uttered, now that is some weighty stuff.

Let's close on a more positive note,  Ephesians 4:29 tells us to speak words that encourage and build each other up-let's then work to speak words that build up and encourage our mates, friends, co-workers, and our children.

In our next post I will discuss the importance of being able to admit our own mistakes. Admitting our own mistakes goes a long way in creating trust and intimacy in our relationships with others, especially our spouses.


Our Mind's Matter

Thinking, thinking, thinking, always thinking. The life of the mind is the heart of the Christian life. As I think through the Scriptur...