11.16.2011

A Quote from John Calvin: Evil our reward for Kindness.

This is my kind of Stamp.
As I was preparing for my study of Exodus this year in our Community Group, I came across this quote by John Calvin in his Commentary on Exodus:

(Background: writing in regards to the Israelites being quickly switched from friend to slave in the early verses of Exodus)

"...;and certainly it is good for us that evil should ever be our reward from men for our kindnesses, that we may learn in the performance of our duty to look to God alone, since otherwise we are unduly addicted to conciliate favour and applause for ourselves, or to seek after more earthly advantages."
[John Calvin Commentary Exodus I.8, p.25]

I am not writing a exposition to this passage or a formal response to John Calvin's quote. I was just humbled this morning as I read this. That our good, hard work, sacrfices, tears...can be rewarded with evil. Wow...that is not what you would think. I know I want a stink'n 'prize' at the end of my labors. But in reality, our prize is not necesarily here...but in Glory with Christ.

Bottomline Prayer: God teach me to do good and kindness not for the praise of others. God also teach me not to be so shocked when the world bombards my soul when I labor in your name. May all this make clinge to the 'not yet' to come. Amen.


11.08.2011

How To Train Your Dragon? (or Spouse)

How To Train Your Dragon Spouse?
Lesson One: Clear Communication

Just started a new series for married couples. I pray this will help you smile a little, maybe even laugh, and ultimately build a stronger relationship with you and your spouse.

We all know that clear communication is key to any good relationship. Notice that I did not say 'communication', I said 'clear communication.' Let me explain. I have a white lab that I simply love. He has a mind of his own and does just about anything. I can give communication to him...he may or may not listen. He may even turn and look at me and stare. He may even wag his tail. BUT, he may also turn and go right back to doing what I ask him not too (i.e. clean the dishes in the dishwasher). Then, I get frustrated and begin yelling and waving my hands...possibly pull off the Croc and do a little corrective training. ;)

Of course the analogy instantly breaks down, your spouse is not a dog. But we all know there are some clear parallels.
1. We talk and give thoughts. THEY may look at us.
2. We offer our hearts. THEY may look interested and laugh (wag their tails).
3. We think they heard us. THEY turn and go back to doing what they wanted.
4. We respond with shoe throwing. ;)

This is not communication.
Couples that wish to experience a more peaceful home should consider the faults in the above situation. So what is wrong with the above situation? Well, as the adage goes: It takes two to tango.

Things to help:
1. Talk with your spouse and allow them to give input into your thoughts. Example ("I have been frustrated with x for some time,...if you were in my shoes what would you do?" or "I am really excited this new class,...is there any classes you would like to take?") You must not make every conversation about you.

2. Learn a little more about their interest and be teachable with them. Be a pupil, let them teach you. Example ( "I don't completely understand why you use Greek yogurt instead of Sour Cream,...tell me why?" or "What is it about Star Wars that makes you want to watch so many times? Is it childhood good memories or the plot?")

3. DEBRIEF DAILY. Never let days by in your relationship that you have not sat down and shared about your day. Let your spouse tell you all about. Turn off the TV. Give the child an activity, and give attention to your spouse. It may not be much, but 5 -15 minutes a day can keep your marriage fresh and up to date. This will keep you from being blindsided issues.

4. Finally, compliment your spouse. Give a clear communication of personal pleasure in your spouse. Tell them something that encourages or gives them hope. (Example: "Dinner,...that's a keeper for special guest."; "I am so glad you provide for our family."; "Would you like me to get you a glass of tea?" 

Bottomline: Marriage is not difficult. You don't have to be a guru to survive. You do need to be patient, be selfless. Do more than just wag your tail,...listen and speak. ;)

11.02.2011

Saying, "I am Sorry." Is Not Enough.

The blood pressure is finally normalizing. Your hands regain heat and your nose is no longer cold. The rush of adenaline has now causing you think a little more rational and you are gaining composure. Words have been said. Doors possibly have been slammed shut. Long rides to the gas station have ended with garage door being shut and both parties are finally breathing normally. THE FIGHT IS OVER.

No matter which side of the argument you are on. This is not the best moment for any marriage or friendship. But what is vital ....what is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL...is not to respond in a minimizing of the situation. What does that look like you might ask?

Resist Statements like:
1. "Sweetheart, I am sorry. But..."
2. "Sweetheart, I am sorry."
3. "It has been a rough week, and I am sorry."
4. "You just made me angry,...I am sorry."
5. "Its ok baby. Let's just don't worry about it."

These statements sound very good on the surface, but can gloss over the problems that are really going on. By minimizing the situation in Example #5 you are not addressing that an issue has happened. In addition, the issue could be SIN. This permissive approach to sin is not the Biblical response. Sin should always be taken seriously as an offense to God, then an offense to others. Example #2 is also not acceptable as it reflects a very easy statement to voice, but with no heart action. The offender takes no responsibility for the offense, but can merely walk away. Examples 1,3,4 are all ways we blame-shift.

BOTTOMLINE: Instead of pressing to solve the conflict quickly with a "I am sorry." Take responsibility for the action. Address the individual with the 'facts' of what YOU did. Example, "Sweetheart, I know that by spending beyond our budget I jeorparized our finances and also was dishonest in my marriage commitment." or "I apologize for what I said to you. Those were hurtful words I should have never said. Will you forgive me?"

TRY THESE STEPS:
Take responsibility for your actions.
Be specific in your confession/apology.
Ask for forgiveness.
Ask for support in pursuing holiness.