Object, Project or Person?

How we treat people reflects what we think about them on the inside.  So if we treat the barista like an extension of the espresso machine, then we’re thinking of them in terms of an object rather than a living human.  This happens alot when we get in transactional modes of interaction & neglect to see the person with whom we’re interacting.

When we try to change someone:  correcting their attitudes, challenging their political opinions, getting them closer to Jesus, making them “better”;  let’s be careful that we’re not treating them like a “project“.  The exceptions to this concern can be the parent, teacher or mentor roles, all of which are most affective when we perceive the recipient of our input as a human & not merely a project.

I think what made Jesus so entirely irresistable by the masses of humanity, when He walked on the earth, is that He interacted with everyone with authenticity, genuine love and sincere interest.  He engaged with each individual as a person, not as a project nor object.  This is what happens when we interact with others from the place of genuine love rather than manipulation, achievement or domination.  Let’s allow our lives to remain in genuine love so that our interactions with others resound with redemption & reconciliation!

 

Don’t Get Lost

Yesterday, I was in a prayer meeting and this lady prayed, “Father, please help us not to get lost in the words of the enemy.” This prayer totally arrested my attention & echoed in my thoughts for the rest of the day. 
How many times have I gotten lost in the accusing, degrading, deceptive & condemning words of the enemy? Even worse, how many times have I let the enemy influence a conversation with someone when I’ve been snarky, judgmental, sarcastic & condescending?  

Talk about a wake up call!!!

Let’s be certain that our thoughts stay centered on Jesus & that we allow the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts. Making these choices will help us not to get so lost in the words of the enemy of our soul! 

selective listening

Have you ever had one of those conversations where someone said something insensitive to you & you didn’t know if or how to respond?  This morning I was chatting with a lovely group of ladies & someone said something to me that was kind of zingy & I found myself suspended in that moment trying to figure out what to do.  Having given it some thought, here are some take aways I’m choosing that might help you as well:

  • benefit of the doubt:  I’m sure this person didn’t mean for her comment to be zingy & even if she did, I’m choosing to see her from a positive perspective
  • forgiving:  quick is better than nursing & rehearsing which only gives my emotions a fever
  • ignore:  rather than call this person out of their comment, I decided to dismiss the comment & adjust the conversation for a different trajectory (translation:  change the subject)
  • some people just have a zingy edge:  truth be known, we can always use some help with our diplomacy skills, so it’s best just to be fully graceful with the help of the Holy Spirit & know that we are all growing, learning and improving 🙂

Happy Labor Day weekend & feel free to share this post with your friends on FB & be sure to signup by email for this blog to keep some encouragement in your inbox 🙂

hot topic part 2: same sex marriage :)

Thank you heaps for all of the feedback on my post about the same sex marriage topic!  It’s obviously a very sensitive topic for almost everyone and by the input I’ve received (some pleasant, some slippery and some hostile), I think it’s worth a final post on the topic.

I’ve been praying about this post for several days because I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit per Ephesians 4:29-32.  With that being said, here are a few questions to consider on the same sex marriage topic for prayerful reflection:

  • Who???  When we talk about this subject, to whom are we speaking or communicating?  Seems like we should think not only about what we say, but with whom we are communicating (seekers, Jesus’ followers, opponents to Jesus’ words, etc).  Jesus was super clear about different messages for different audiences – but all with the same motive
  • How???  How we communicate is a good peek into our motives & ultimately what’s in our hearts
  • What??? After thinking about our motives & audience, the content of our words are very important – what are we really saying?

I’m certainly up to speed with Paul’s words about homosexuality in 1Cor 6:9, Rom 1:26-32 & the relevant verses in Levitucs & the outcomes of Sodom & Gomorrah and I do not disagree with these words.  But I come back to the question of loving well from John 13:35 – the defining distinctive of Jesus’ followers is our love for each other.

To conclude, I believe that we can all find common ground in praying for our nation & our world.  Let’s agree to pray for our pastors, our political leaders, key influencers and let’s pray that Jesus lives well through our lives every day 🙂

Managing to Love Well

I was recently on a family vacation & there were a few tense conversations with family members – nothing major, but some scrappy & small conflicts. I was thinking about these conversations this morning in my prayer time & was letting God know that I was frustrated. Fundamentally, I want to love well, but struggle with how to role out genuine love in my daily living. I felt like God spoke this into my heart, “Give Me permission to love through you rather than trying to love from you.”
This has been extremely helpful because I know that my own love is far too limited, but God’s love through me can be infinite. 

So let’s agree to let God love through us & let the fun begin! Remain tied into God’s love ,)

  

spiritual chats

I had an interesting discussion recently with a friend related to talking with people about Jesus. It seems to me that sometimes we can get a little jittery about talking about Jesus with someone who isn’t necessarily a follower of Him (particularly if you lean in the introvert zone). Our culture also says that we are supposed to be tolerant & any overt or heavy duty proselytizing is nothing less than entirely offensive, rude & even repulsive. So talking about Jesus can get dicey.
So here’s an interesting thought, let’s start having spiritual conversations in our daily living, even with people who don’t necessarily believe the same way you do. Some things that can be helpful when having spiritual conversations include:
*listen: ask questions & pay attention
*respect: winning, convincing, coercing & shame don’t belong in these kinds of conversations; be gentle
*avoid the subjunctive: “should” & “ought to” tend to be unhelpful at best
*have spiritual chats with followers of Jesus: share with someone what God has been speaking with you about

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speak, think, feed

I’m not a big fan of onions – when I chop them, they make my eyes water and sometimes they can have a really sharp odor & flavor.  But they can serve as an interesting metaphor with some helpful thoughts.  If you think about it, onions have many layers – you can keep peeling & peeling, ulimately finding that an onion may have up to 20 layers!

The layers of an onion are a little like our lives, with the first layer being what we say.  The things that we say are very important & since I’ve had children, I’m more convinced of this than ever.  Our words can give life, encouragment and be uplifting or they can be negative, discouraging and death oriented.  So our words are important, but our words are often a reflection of what we think, which is another layer of the onion, so to speak.

Second layer – Have you ever thought about what you think about – a thought inventory?  Many of our thoughts are about getting stuff done and general maintainence thinking (cooking, grocery lists, auto repair, etc).  But we also think about many other things – conversations, what we think people think about us, priorities, time management, how we feel, reactions to various people & interactions, etc.  What we let ourselves think about is very important because our thoughts affect our actions, words, decisions, etc.

But here’s the center of the onion:  what we feed our hearts is what affects our thinking & ultimately our words & actions.  So let me encourage you to take a few minutes to consider the things that you feed your thoughts, emotions & heart.  What are the inputs that you allow in your life?  Do these inputs give life?  Are they uplifting?  Are they truthful?  Do they have genuine love?  Our words are shaped by our thoughts which are shaped by the inputs we allow – so let’s chose these inputs with discernment, discretion, wisdom & love 🙂

Advice for hostile situations

From time to time I have the opportunity to be involved in situations that can be volatile, hostile & combative. I can’t say that I enjoy these types of situations but I am learning a few things that you might find helpful:
*Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath – answering with gentle words & replies can be super helpful to turn a hostile conversation into a constructive conversation
*volume, pace & pitch are important in our verbal replies because they can increase or diffuse the hostility
*seek to understand before being understood – this always helps me to grow & learn more
*pray: seems to me that we need God more than we frequently recognize 🙂

What have you found to be helpful? Thanks for your input!!

Some antidotes for worry

Worry seems to be a common ailment. Lots of people worry about lots of things- the economy, health issues, family challenges, school frustrations & lots more! Some worries seem to be justified & some are almost nonsense. Worry is common, but there are a few things you can do to overcome worry:
*pray the answer (God’s Word) more than the problem
*worship – exalting Jesus always makes my problems look smaller & smaller
*be careful about your conversations – complaining can be fuel for worry
*read a Psalm at breakfast, lunch, dinner & bedtime

Don’t let worry be bigger than Jesus in your life!!

This is a good mistake to avoid!

I’ve been thinking lately about Adam & Eve with the whole Garden fiasco. That was really a bad day for humanity & despite our Father’s magnificent redemption of humanity, there have been several occasions when I wish Eve would have made some different choices.
I think that one of her big mistakes was to have a conversation w the serpent / devil. And yet I think that sometimes we make her same mistake without realizing it. Here are some ways that we talk with or entertain the devil, his lies & deceptions:
*insecurity – we listen far too often to his accusations & utter nonsense about who we are rather than basing our identity on what God says about us
*ego / pride – “all of that & a bag of chips!”. Really??? It is only through Christ that we are truly invaluable, priceless & supremely desirable
*worry / fear – I don’t think that the devil sets the “worry or fear trap” about things on which we are strong. However, wherever there is a weakspot, that’s where he will plant worry, uncertainty, concern & even fretful thoughts or anxieties, be that about the future, health, relationships, etc
Can you think of other “conversation traps” that the devil lays for you???

Something I really love

I had a very cool opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit today w some friends! These are some reasons why I love getting to study the Bible in a small group:
*I get to hear what God is saying to other people
*my understanding of God broadens when I get to hear the perspectives of other people
*God challenges me in ways that I don’t always hear by myself
*I love the mutual support for each other that a small group can provide
*I love the “a-ha” moments when the light goes on for me when I sense the Holy Spirit’s presence, truth & revelation; I love getting to see this happen as well in others

Growing as a person often happens through our relationships & interactions w others 🙂

an interesting chat w my mom

 My mom & I were driving home & talking about lots of different things, but one of my favorite things to talk about w my mom is the Bible.  We both share about what God is talking with us about in various relevant events, etc of our lives & it’s often a very rich discussion.

Today, we were talking about the diversity of Christians that we both know & love – lots of MAJOR cool people.  Everyone has such good & rich things to contribute to others.  Despite all of the incredible differences, what causes Christians to be unified is love – genuine love.  Regardless of our theological positions, our beliefs about law, grace, healing, faith, prayer, . . . . pick any subject, what makes us distinct as followers of Jesus is our love for one another.  Indeed, that is to be fundamental stand out point based on John 13:35 – love for each other.  I think that the better we get at genuine love, the easier people will see Jesus 😀

tipping point

 Several years ago, there was a really popular book called, “The Tipping Point”.  It was basically about how small things can make massive impacts – I really like this concept for lots of different reasons, but most of all for how it connects with James 3:1-6.  In these verses, the author talks about how a big ship is turned by a small rudder, the bit in a horse’s mouth can make a horse change direction & how a small spark can create a massive fire.  The point for each of these illustrations is to drive home the importance of how we use our words.  Small words & conversations that can seem very innocuous can have very significant results, positive or negative.  So here are some choices for your consideration with the words that we use:

  • compliment or criticize
  • support or sarcasm
  • gratitude or entitlement
  • encourage or discourage

Let’s make wise choices 🙂

freedom of speech

 In America, we are very intense about our right to the freedom of speech.  We have no appreciation for anyone who would try to censure our opinion or limit our expression.  And in some ways, I really appreciate this right & I wholly appreciate the sacrifices that have been made to retain this privilege.

On the other hand, just because we have the right to freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we should say anything & everything we want.  Proverbs says that even a fool appears smart when they keep their mouth closed.  There is tremendous wisdom in knowing when to say something, what to say & to whom something should be said.  These choices can be very productive if we make the decision to be constructive with our opinions & freedom of speech & not merely selfish.  In the end, the right to freedom of speech with a selfish intent is often more destructive than constructive.  Here’s a simple idea that I’m trying to work into my daily living:  I want to compliment & encourage more than I criticize & judge.  Want to join me?  🙂

help me with some people skills

When I was growing up, my parents would always encourage me to develop my people skills – I still need to work on this area.  I remember them saying that while I could learn lots of book knowledge, I would USE people skills every day and they’re right.  People skills are really important – so here are a few things that I’m learning & I would LOVE for you to add your insights on what you feel are important people skills to develop 🙂

Here are some ideas to get our conversation  started:

  • respect – regardless of your frame of mind or preconceived ideas, each person with whom we interact needs respect, even if they’re behaving in disrespectful ways.  I’ve never regretted being respectful, but I’ve always regretted being disrespectful
  • serving others – when I get my mind to look for ways to help or serve others, rather than expecting to be served, I’m almost always deeply content & satisfied in ways that far eclipse the times when I am served
  • humility – the attitude of “all that & a bag of chips” has never really worked for me;  it almost always sabotages any kind of constructive interaction
  • encouragement – I’ve found that people flourish & blossom with encouragement & genuine praise more than put downs & degradation.
  • silence is golden – its very important to screen your thoughts before they’re expressed from your lips.  When I say less, it seems that people think more of me – what a shock ,)

So what are some people skills you have or would like to have?  Whadya think???

Jesus on a weekday

we had a super good church service yesterday – great preaching, wonderful worship, cool membership presentation, great connections – all sublime.  I love it when we walk out of church having experienced God & having a bit of a divine glow from being in God’s presence.  I find it interesting for myself that when i’m in the middle of totally worshipping God, i rarely want to be mad at someone or think about how to get back at someone for a rude comment, etc. 

However, come Monday morning, or Tues afternoon, or some other time during the week, i can’t always say that i have the same sublime interactions.  A couple of months ago, i had a rather unpleasant  public conversation with a fellow believer who was very upset about something that was really hard to accept.  I totally understand this person’s frustrations, but their conversation wasn’t Christ-like & their demeanor was rather offensive.  While I didn’t confront this person, here’s the thing that bugs me in this experience:  i don’t want to only be a Sunday Christian.  I want the life of Jesus to permeate my daily living so that my conversations & interactions are 1st & foremost pleasing to God.  I am obviously not living a perfect life & don’t want to throw stones when i live in a glass house myself.  However, i do want to learn from others & endeavor with the help of the Holy Spirit to let Jesus live through me in my family interactions, throughout my weekdays & in my private thoughts.  Let’s always be letting Jesus grow in us.

invitations

mtn_snow1I’m deeply moved by the goodness of God to me – maybe even moreso, how much He pursues me or even likes me.  When I listen & watch, I find His invitations to be with Him in a variety of situations.  Try these on for size:

  • driving home from the mtns in a snowstorm, stuck in traffic w opportunity to go deep into my heart to be with Him
  • the stillness & quiet of a snowstorm in the mtns – a blanket of His presence
  • long talks w friends at deep levels in our walks w God – hearing God speak to me through these conversations
  • having the chance to mentor one of my boys about how God speaks to him through His dreams
  • praying w Reece about concerning heartfelt issues as we drive home
  • listening for His voice in various conversations w people

I think that God likes to be with us a whole lot more than we realize.  I pray that you would see His invitations for you to be with Him.  Here’s a post that is insightful & rich:  sue.  We’re all so very needy.