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Friday, September 30, 2011

A Lesson from my Dad: What Makes Us

Who we are and what we manifest comes to us through a series of a million tiny chemical reactions, neuropathways, interactions and experiences that shape us into the individuals we ultimately become.

If you have been following my posts the last few weeks, I seem to be stuck on a theme about peace. Not "whorlled peas", but personal peace. Where is it? How do I achieve it? How do I keep it?

In addition to this, a few weeks ago, during one of the twittechats, we started discussing our lost childhood. The things we had hoped for and the wonder and awe that life held for us then; and what going back to that open state of mind and heart can bring us. We will talk about more of those things here in the future, but I am pulled back time and again to lessons I learned from my father. 

None of these lessons was structured, at least not with a book or curriculum, but were heart-connected lessons; life lessons which continue to unfold for me. Many of the important lessons we learn in life are taught to us by people who are connected to us; those who care for us and want the best for us. Oftentimes, as people are walking their own path, they cannot see clearly, but they help show us the way.

My Dad was my best friend. He was as tall as a mountain and strong as a bull. Or at least that's how he looked through the eyes of a child. And, this is how he will always remain in my heart and mind. As I grew older, I could see some of the chinks in his armor, and understand more of why they were there.

Unfortunately, this rock, my supporter, my protector was killed in a car wreck when I was 8. That summer month of my 8th year was the longest of my life. I turned 8 years old, my father died, my maternal grandmother (second only to my father for my affection and attention) died and I was hit by a car.

I still love and miss my Dad, 50 years later.

What did I learn from my Dad?

Well, like most father's, he could deny his daughter, nothing. But, all things are relative. What may have been everything to me, wouldn't have been much to many others. We were poor. Also something I didn't discover until little later in life when I was exposed to people who had a lot more, and flaunted it.

My fondest memory was around the age of 4 or 5, before I started school. My Dad watched me in the mornings before he went to work. My mother left for work by 5:30 am and cooked us something before she left. We'd have a little breakfast, then get in his huge blue and white Chevy, my best buddy and me. Two peas in a pod. We'd drive around for a bit and eventually pull up to his favorite bar.

Every single weekday morning of my first five years, he'd turn to me and ask, "What do you want, sweetie?" I would day, "Orange Nehi, potato chips, Slim Jim and salty fish." He'd smile and laugh, go off to the bar and purchase these items as if he'd never heard me recite this list before. He would bring it all back to the car, make sure I was comfortable and felt safe.

Of course I felt safe, my Dad was taking care of me.

Once I was settled, he'd go back to his place of refuge. We would each stay in our respective places- me in the big blue and white fort, and he at the bar, until it was time for him to go to work. These days he'd probably be arrested, but it was a different time then.

For hours, I would eat my snacks and watch people go about their busy lives outside my little bubble. I could make stories for where they were going, conversations they were bound to have and just watch.

I could read their faces, watch their body language and know a good portion of their story. I watched them laugh, cry, carry their groceries with downtrodden shoulders and interact with their children. I'd watch them kiss and fight and share jokes.

I was never lonely, even though I was alone. I was never afraid, because my Dad was taking care of me.

OK, so what's the life lesson?

Through all those long hours sitting and observing, I learned something many adults still seek. I learned to be alone and content, if not downright happy with my own company. I learned to sit in silence and not be afraid. I learned to see people beneath what they were saying. I learned to watch faces, eyes, body language, breathing, touching, movement. I learned to see human interaction, without the distraction of words.

Long before I grew up and called my office, "The Listening Place," I learned to shut up and use all my senses when I am with people, and this still serves me well in my life.

Long before I took prayer and meditation to heart and made them part of life's practice, I learned to be alone without being lonely.

Long before I needed to take downtime and quiet time, I learned to exist in and listen to the quiet.

Long before I learned to read words, I learned to read people.

Thanks Dad. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting the crap out of your stream / life (Just say NO!) [2]

We all have people, things and situations in our lives that we don’t want there. We feel powerless, but we are not. They take away our sense of self and our peace of mind. A few days ago we finished up a unit on peace. Taking a page and a lesson from the Apostle Paul, let’s try to get some perspective in how to move forward. Usually what starts to get under our skin are words. Words that are spoken, written and sometimes even implied.

What do I mean by this last? Many of us suffer under the burden of psychological abuse. We live with an unspoken downgrading of our esteem, our worth, our intelligence, our parentage, our skills, etc. This constant undermining of our self-esteem and self-worth can cause long-term and widespread damage. You’ve heard it before, and it is true.

Hurt people hurt!

They hurt themselves and they hurt other people.

So, with Paul’s help, let us set some foundations, lay ground rules for social interaction, both in real life and online.

Before you say or write something, think…

Before you accept the words that someone is saying, writing, thinking about you, or trying to make you think about yourself…

  • Does this add value to me? Increase my knowledge? Stroke my ego? Lift me up?

  • Is it Noble? Do these thoughts or statement place a high value on all people? Or are they just trying to put you down, or knock someone you admire off their pedestal?

  • Is it Right, just or ethical? 

  • Is it lovely? Or is it just ugly, rude, crude, vulgar, vile, vindictive? Is it uplifting and encouraging?

  • Is it Admirable? Is this something that I think others would look up to and say, “I want to think just the way that you do”? Would you have a problem with people that you truly respect thinking the same thoughts that you are thinking right now?

  • Is it Excellent? Is this important, top of the line, useful, or meaningful?

  • Is it Praiseworthy? If others knew what I was thinking, would they praise me for it? Would they praise me for the actions that will come from those thoughts?

  • Is it Helpful? Am I learning something new? Or, is there an opportunity in this exchange to teach someone else something new? This implies that they are open to learning.

  • Will I pass this along, and share it with my friends or colleague? Or will I need to hide it im my secret stash, and share with only a few?

  • Can I put this into practice? Does this support my values?

  • Do I even freaking care? Do I care what this person is saying? Will I engage or let it float by?

On twitter, there is a simple solution,


It works in real life too… JUST SAY NO!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting the crap out of your stream / life (Just say NO!) [1]

A few days ago, a cyber friend seemed a little down and out of sorts, lamenting the brutality of some of the people she has come into contact with on Twitter. Perhaps brutality is too strong a word. Why don't we try self-centered or just plain inconsiderate?

In the last 2 weeks, I have had to disengage from several people who seemed more bent on fueling an argument that sharing knowledge and engaging.

The nicest thing about Social Media is that you meet some of the coolest, smartest, most talented and helpful people around. These people are willing to share their knowledge, expertise and talents freely, for the most part.

The second nicest thing about social media is that unlike our lives outside of the Internet, we don’t have to put up with any jack-butts. (Can I say that here?).

The first group of people I have un-followed are those that do not interact with me, ever. Granted, in the cyber world, I am nobody special, a small-fry. I’ll never be considered an A-lister or a heavy-hitter. I’ll never have a million followers, but that’s okay. I’d rather have a few people whose first names I actually know, whose blogs I read (even if only occasionally), who care if I don't show up for a few days, that I can engage in spirited debate with, and can ultimately agree to disagree with, and still remain cyber-friends.

The second group that I have become more conscious about un-following, is more insidious, and cloying. These start out as what feels like a normal conversation, then several psychological push-backs later about all your views of the world being wrong, you start to dread seeing their name (or twitter handle) come across your screen. These people, I have discovered in my brief sojourn almost always want something. They want you to buy their book, come into their camp and bring your followers, claim them as your lord and liege, promote them or just fight in public with them. You start to notice that after a few exchanges, that your heart flutters, and not in a good way when they pop up. And, as soon as you’ve convinced yourself that the discourse is done, you have signed off with all the agape love you can muster and extracted yourself from useless and meaningless debate....they come back.

The real question we must ask ourselves is why do we let these family members, friends and worst of all, strangers, on the Internet or in real life (IRL), drag us down into the mire with them. Why do we twist in the wind and let them wind us up to the point that we cannot focus on why we are here, or what we started out to accomplish?

Why do we let them hold us hostage?

Do we feel that needy and lonely, or do we perceive ourselves so unworthy that we will let just anybody trample us and our feelings?

Wouldn’t you like to drop into your (twitter) stream any time and pick up some gems, some great articles, blogs, recipes, leadership nuggets, and skip the crap? Of course you would.

Wouldn’t you like to go to work or church or come home and celebrate the goodness and virtues of the people around you? Again, of course you would.

If you have read this far then you are probably having some difficulty with the concept of letting these people go, getting rid of them or redefining your relationship with them.

Online it's relatively simple to get rid of them. In real life it is more complicated, but not impossible. At the very least you can set your sites on ways to redefine your relationship, set new boundaries, and take a different outlook or a different tack.

It's a two step process:

First, examine why this person / these people are in your life. Honestly evaluate what you think might lose or gain by staying so intimately and closely connected. Ask yourself, "What happens if I let go of them? Will / can I survive without them?"

If you work with them, and you are not the boss, then you can't get rid of them, but you can choose to engage differently.

Then the second part is much more difficult...DO IT!

Stay, go, and alter the dynamics. Make a choice - and stick to it.

I know from personal experience that this is hard, and we can make all sorts of rational and flimsy excuses why we need to continue to struggle in some of our relationships.

So, I'm here today, nobody special, to give you permission to do just that...CHOOSE CHANGE!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where is Peace? 9 (conclusion)

Paul started this discussion about returning to peace by saying the warring factions need to have a change of mind.  

Then he said that a proper attitude toward our circumstances will give us peace in our minds.

Finally, he said that we must take active control over what we allow into our minds because our thoughts control whether or not we will have peace.
You see, it’s all already inside and very much under our control!

Paul’s final piece of advice here is that once we have our thought life right, it must show itself through our actions.

In verse 9 He says that it is in actions that I show my faith in God to take care of me and provide for me. It is also in actions that I gain evidence of the power of God.

Do you remember the words that Jesus first spoke to His disciples following His resurrection?

The disciples were in the upper room, and they feared for their own lives. Their leader was dead, and their future was uncertain. Just then Jesus appeared though locked doors and spoke to them.

Do you remember what He said?

Max Lucado puts it this way: "The betrayed sought His betrayers. And what did He say to them? Not, `What a bunch of flops you are.’ Not, `I told you so.’ And there was no Where were you when I really needed you,’ speech.

"No, his first words were just one simple phrase,

`Peace be with you.’

The very thing that they didn’t have was the first thing that He offered, peace. And He still offers it to us today."

Do you have it?

Do you want it? This is so much more important than we realize. We have to want it.

Do you know where to find it?

It is already inside you.

Use it or be tied up and bound down carrying burdens that are too heavy for you; yours and someone else’s.

Pursue it with all your heart.

Give away the things that disorder, disrupt, and dislocate your peace.

Peace lies within you.

Do you have it?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Where is peace? 8

Picking up the threads from last week and our discussion about peace, we’ve got the Apostle Paul in prison, the disciple Peter standing on the water and Peter of the Pan flying around the room.

This second Peter is advising his wards that they just need to…”think lovely, wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air."

The same is true for us as believers. The only way to defeat evil thoughts, the thoughts that destroy our peace, is to begin to think of something else.

You have heard it said that an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. By the same token, a mind that is filled with the wrong stuff is one that can and will rob you of your peace.

And now we come full circle, back to the Apostle Paul and the church at Corinth. He says to us in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

In plain English, pay attention to what you are thinking about. Don’t allow your mind to wander in all kinds of directions. Keep it under the Spirit’s control.

Paul even takes the time in this letter to supply us with a list of things to fill our minds with in order for us to have peace.

As a thought enters your mind, and you begin to dwell on it, stop and ask yourself if that thought meets the following standards:

  • Is it True? 
    • Does it correspond to reality and to God’s declaration of truth in His Word? 
    • Is it a figment of my own imagination? 
    • Am I interpreting the events and the motives in the correct way,
  • Or…
    • am I letting my pre-conceived notions about that person govern the way that I see what has happened? 
    • Am I just being paranoid?
    • Remember Adam and Eve? When God came to Adam, and Adam admitted that he was naked, God asked him a question; “Who told you that you were naked?” Who told you that? 
    • Examine where the thoughts that you are having came from.

  • Is it Noble? 
    • Do these thoughts place a high value on people?

  • Is it Right or just? 
    • Do they correspond with God’s laws of conduct?

  • Is it Pure? 
    • Are they mixed up with sin in the middle of them?

  • Is it Lovely? 
    • Are they beautiful emotionally and spiritually? 
    • Are they uplifting and encouraging?

  • Is it Admirable? 
    • Are they something that you think others would look up to and say, “I want to think just the way that you do”? 
    • Would you have a problem with people that you respect thinking the same thoughts that you are thinking right now?

  • Is it Excellent? 
    • Do you think about stuff that is important, top of the line, useful, meaningful

  • Is it Praiseworthy? 
    • If others knew what you were thinking, would they praise you for it? Will God reward you for what you are thinking right now, or will you receive discipline from God for what you are thinking and the actions that will come from those thoughts?

The battle for peace is won or lost in our minds.

[Conclusion tomorrow…]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You've decided to start a blog. Cool! (part 5)

5. I have written my blog site and I have post, what do I do with them now?

  • You need to fill out the information about yourself. The “About Me” page. This is where people will go to find out about you, your blog and what they can learn here. (we will talk about contact separately)

  •  YES, you want people to make comments. You can decide if they should be:
    • moderated, meaning that you see them before they are published, or
    • unmoderated, meaning that the comments are published automatically another topic of great debate. But like everything else, you can change your mind later.
  • Most sites have a spam filter, so that really bizarre stuff shouldn’t even appear to anyone else. But you should still be diligent about watching what’s in the approved comments. Watch out for links hidden in the comments or the "name" 
    • I am also not saying, nor am I implying that you shouldn’t let negative comments go through. We all learn and grow from constructive criticism. But face it, you will get some haters. It comes with the territory.

  •  YES, you probably want to be notified about comments and you can arrange for them to come to your regular email, so you can answer "quickly."
  • YES- you want some type of "share" button, like twitter, Facebook, share-this, etc

  •  YES- you want them to subscribe- by email, by RSS

  • YES- They can contact you. 
    • You want your fans to be able to contact you. This comes down to a personal preference, safety and common sense. I would not give my telephone number or my street address.  I think Facebook and Twitter are close enough. Some online relationships may turn into real-life relationships and connections, but go slow, just like you would in real life (IRL).
    • Try to skip a few of the creeps, freaks and spammers.

  • NO- we aren't going to worry about advertising, Adsense, monetizing the first time out of the gate. We must get some good content flowing to get readers to visit the site. And, even if selling is your ultimate goal, if you produce nothing worth reading, the readers won't come, and you will have no one to sell to. So, concentrate on writing good content first.

The adage is: CONTENT IS KING!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Where is Peace? 7

In continuing our exploration of where peace can be found, we are with Peter, Jesus, the disciples and the storm. Peter is out on the water, but he hesitates.

Some of us sit in relative safety in the boat with the disciples. And, although its rocky, we are trying our best to maintain control of our lives in the best way that we know how.

Some of us have made it across the sea and are walking on the top of the water in the middle of the storm because we have our eyes on Jesus, and we are holding His hand.

But then there are the majority of us, and we are right there in the mix with Peter.

We have have stepped out of the boat and are headed to Jesus. We’ve turned over control of our lives to Him halfway. We’ll let Him handle eternity, but we’ll take care of today. Caught somewhere in between self-control and Jesus-control is a pretty dangerous place to be.

In the book of James (1:8) he says a double-minded man is unstable in all he does.

If you haven’t yielded control of your life – your struggles, your future, your past, your fears, your everything – then you cannot have complete peace.

“Be anxious for nothing . . .”
I don't use the King James version of the Bible often, but I like the way this is phrased there-

“Be careful for nothing.”

That doesn’t mean that you can run around like a bull in a china shop. To be careful means to be full of care. It means to be consumed by your concern over the things that are going on in your life.
But rather than being consumed by our concerns and losing our peace over them, we’re supposed to take those concerns to God.
1st Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. "

Back to Paul. Paul says that we are supposed to first pray. Praying is simply talking to God about what what’s going on in your life. It is your way of taking those things that cause you anxiety and worry
and placing them at the foot of God.

Then he talks about supplication or petition. That’s where we ask God to do something in our life and in our situation.

And then he says not to forget thanksgiving.

As we thank God for what He has done in the past, something begins to happen. We begin to remember all of the things that He has already done for me and how He saw me through all of those
situations in my past. He saw me thorugh situations that I thought I was never going to make it out of.

And then I start to realize that if He brought me through then, He has the power to bring me through today.

And God’s peace begins to flood my soul, not because the problem is gone, but because I know that since I have the power and person of God, I already have everything that I need to enable me to handle anything that comes my way.

Look at what he says in verse 7, A peace for which there is no logical explanation will put a wall of protection around you a wall that is provided by and built with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:35-39, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When you are wrapped up in the arms of Jesus, and you know that you have an all-powerful God who hears your prayers and is in control of every situation, that’s when you can have real peace.

So, what have we learned?

Juts rejoicing over your problems and your successes will not bring you peace. Rejoicing in the Lord will.

Just yielding to life will not bring you peace. “Qe se ra, se ra, whatever will be will be.” That’s just being fatalistic and pessimistic.
But yielding to Jesus and giving Him control of your life will give you a direction and a purpose for living.

And, not having a God and Savior to whom we can turn to lay all our burdens at His feet and not having His power to handle our
problems will mean that we will have to deal with every part of our life on our own with no real help.

Other human beings cannot provide the peace that you need; we are each trying to deal with our own problems and situations. Only God can provide the peace that we need and long for.
But you’re thinking, “As best as I can tell, I am at peace with others, and my relationship with Jesus is right. Why do I still not have peace?”

The answer could be found in what you fill your mind with.

3. Peace comes through a mind that focuses on good stuff.
There is a famous scene in Peter Pan, when Peter is in the children’s bedroom, and they have seen him fly. Of course, they  and they wish to fly too.

They have tried it from the floor and they have tried it from the beds and the result is failure.

"How do you do it?" John asked. "You just think lovely, wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air."

The same is true for the believer. The only way to defeat evil thoughts – thoughts that destroy your peace – is to begin to think of something else...


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where is Peace? 6

Paul is separated from his friends and facing the worst punishment of his day. He is sitting in a Roman prison, possibly in stockades, and as far as he knows, awaiting death...and he tells us to rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

The text goes on to tell us that some of Paul’s comrades and converts were given greater courage to preach because they saw Paul’s bold stand. And others, trying to make Paul jealous or trying to stir up trouble for him began preaching too.

Paul’s answer?...

I don’t care why they are doing it. The fact is that the Gospel is being spread, and in this I rejoice!”

Paul’s not being a hypocrite here when he tells us to rejoice. He knew what hard times were, and he knew that the right way to react to was not with fear or anger…but with joy.

Then Paul said, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”

But, That's not how we usually roll, is it?

We are so focused on our rightness and getting our way; being first, being best (or at least better than). Everyone wants the right of way, but we can't all have it. This is true whether we are talking about being the next car to go at a 4-way stop, or letting our tempers flare because somebody else got that perfect parking spot right in front of Wal-mart or getting to the shortest check-out line before the next guy cuts us off.

We are constantly afraid that other people will interpret our kindness as a sign of weakness. We are afraid to be gentle.

We want control, and we think that this is the only way that we are going to get any peace.

But Paul tells us that it is by gentleness – not by bullying our way through, not fighting for our own rights, but it is by turning over control of our lives that we can find real peace.

But, before we move on, let's try to get a handle on this.

We are all amazingly good at something, maybe even several things. You are!

Now, this thing that you are great at doing, do you share?

Do you make yourself available?

Do you teach others?

Or do you hide your gift and try to make sure you are the only one who excels at this?

Are you so focused on being at the top of your game, that you shut others down and out?

Are you so busy controlling your life and keeping your great skill to yourself that you cannot find peace?

Do you live in fear that someone will be as good as you? or better?

Good leaders make leaders!

Do you?

* * * *  *

This brings to mind another very familiar story from the New Testament.

There is an event from the life of Peter while Jesus was still with him. Peter and the other disciples were out in a boat on the sea when a huge storm came up. In the middle of the storm, they saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter asked Jesus if he could come out there and walk with Jesus. Jesus said yes, so Peter stepped out of the boat.

Somewhere between the boat and Jesus, Peter started paying attention to the waves and the wind, instead of keeping his focus on Jesus. As soon as he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink into the water.

All of us fit into that story at some point.

Some of us are still in the boat.

Even though things may be a little rocky, we are trying our best to maintain control of our lives in the best way that we know how.

Some of us have made it across the sea and are walking on the top of the water in the middle of the storm because we have our eyes on Jesus, and we are holding His hand.

But then there are the majority of us… 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where is peace? 5

Lets move back into Paul’s exhortation found in Hebrews. (Hebrews12:15)

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile [or destroy] many.

When we allow bitterness and anger to go on without dealing with it, we will not only destroy ourselves, we run the significant risk of destroying many others too. 

Take care of problems while they are small before they have a chance to grow into bushes that are entrenched in the ground.”

We may have to dig a little bit to really get a good picture of what's actually going on in our heart. The hardest person to be honest with is frequently ourselves. One of the most difficult things to change is our own minds.

The roots of bitterness, though not seen from above, reach way down into the heart and are very difficult to weed out and pull up.

We will never have peace in our hearts until the poison of anger and bitterness is removed, and it is replaced with forgiveness and love.

Paul moves beyond the immediate situation that the church was facing and communicates to them how they can have peace in their hearts as well as in their relationships.

When I do not have peace within my own heart, then it is extremely difficult for me to have peace  and be at peace with the people around me.

James is all over this concept when he says in 4:1-2:

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.

You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

I have to stop here for a moment. This is where our souped-up, glossed-over, easy-living prosperity gospel stops. But let’s go on to add just one more verse for the full and correct context:

When we ask, we do not receive, because we all too often ask with wrong motives. We want things to satisfy our own pleasures and desires. 

James isn’t simply saying that we do not have “stuff” because we haven’t asked for it. He is saying very clearly, that we don’t get when we truly need because, first, we haven't asked for what we needed. Second, we ask with the wrong motives in our hearts, for the wrong reasons. We ask for personal gain and personal pleasure. Ok? Back to work…

Fights on the outside come from fights on the inside.

If there is no peace within, there will be no peace without.

Where do we get this inner peace?

2. Peace comes through a mind that doesn’t fear. (verses 4-7)

Before we move on, there is something important that we need to know about Paul. When Paul wrote these words and gave these instructions, he wasn’t lying on a lounge chair on the beach at an all-inclisive resort on the Mediterranean Sea. He was in prison in Rome.

He was separated from his friends, prevented from starting new churches, and anticipating death at any time. Yet, he was concerned about what was happening to his friends and fellow laborers.

It was the kind of situation where we would expect a person to be exhibiting fear and despair, not peace.

Back to Paul’s instructions…

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Turn over a few pages to your left, and look at Philippians 1:12-18.

Can you see the connection? Paul has been imprisoned for preaching. So what does he do while he’s in prison – he preaches!

I find that amazing. Most of us, myself included, can't concentrate on what we're supposed to when things are going well!

But, here is Paul, so confident in his faith and ultimate future that he stays focused on the goal. He never loses sight of the prize. I'm not saying that he never had fear, he was human.

He had moments of fear, but his faith pulled him back in...

What ONE thing are you supposed to be focusing on that you have let go?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where is peace? 4

Eu-o-dia and Syn-ty-che, who have become such bitter combatants that they are disrupting the church, have forgotten all about being freed from their own past indiscretions and have gotten sidetracked with unimportant issues. They had forgotten that their job #1, their number one priority was to win people to Jesus. All that other stuff wasn't really that important. It is a distraction put in our path by the enemy. That is the simplest and most innocent way we slide off the tracks. We get caught up in the unimportant, in the minutiae and forget where we are going. If we stay on this path long enough we can forget why as well. Pretty soon we are locked in a battle that has absolutely no significance, and we are wallowing in the mud with our adversaries. And, who will follow us then? Not the people at church. Not the people at work. Not even our family members. And why should they?

When you and I forget why we are here and turn our focus away from the job that we have been given, it is then that we start to fight with one another over things that have no eternal significance whatsoever.

Who cares what color the carpet is, or if someone used your room and left it messed it up, or what date the company picnic is on and whose house it will be held at?

Yes, you can voice your opinion about these things, but if the decisions don’t go the way that you think they should, you do not have the right to get so angry with everyone that you let it destroy your relationships and your witness.

We are here to bring people to Jesus!

We are here to help restore each other to wholeness.

All this other stuff is just that…stuff.

Paul gave one more piece of advice to help these two people get back in relationship. He asked another person in the church to act as a mediator to pull them back together.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9)

When you help to bring peace, you are taking on the character of Christ. Christ brought peace between us and God, but it cost Him His life.

Are you willing to be a peacemaker?

What price are you willing to pay for peace?



Paul presses on. He says that we had better learn to be at peace with each other now. We will be with them for all of eternity.

In order for there to be peace in that church, and between these two women, they had to put away their pride, forgive one another, and get back to the job that God had called them to do in the first place.

Before they could be used by God to bring forgiveness into the lives of others, they themselves had to forgive.

Are you holding onto anger or bitterness or hurt against someone in your life?

At work, home or church:

Are you the peacemaker or the pot-stirrer?


Monday, September 19, 2011

Where is peace? 3

Little problems kill!

The Apostle Paul, well probably Paul, as the writer of Hebrews chastens us further about not dealing with problems early on in chapter 12, verse 15.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile [or destroy] many.

When you allow bitterness and anger to go on without dealing with it, you will not only destroy yourself; you and many others may be destroyed with you…

Take care of problems while they are small before they have a chance to grow into bushes that are entrenched in the ground.”

Paul is not only telling these women to fix the problem that was standing between them, but he told them how.

He told them to “agree with each other.” That’s the NIV translation.

The New King James says, “be of the same mind”.

Another translation has “to mind the same things”.

These women could not change what had happened. And this is where a lot of us get stuck. We keep replaying the “crime” against us, over and over again. We replay it, look at all the angles, interject what people should have said, know what we should have said if we had thought faster…But it’s done and gone. We cannot undo a thing that has happened in the past to try to make it right in the present. This is impossible.

But, what these ladies could change was how they felt about the situation and their attitude toward one another. They had to change their mind about who was at fault… They had to back away from who caused the fight, and being attached to being right.

They had to change their mind about who should be the first to seek forgiveness and restoration. We have to assume that somewhere beneath all this apparent enmity, they longed for reconciliation. If they had been friends before, all that they shared, all the joy and support they had found in each other, was now lost.

They had to change their mind about the character of the other person.

You know how it is. When we can’t have our own way, when we feel we have been wronged, we start to attack the other person's character rather than dealing with the situation.

A couple of chapters before this, Paul says, 

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Jesus displays an attitude of humility and sacrifice, not of self-seeking and pride. That’s the kind of mind that these ladies needed to have.

Paul goes on to remind them of something else.

He reminded them of all the work that they had done together in the past. They had faithfully served the Lord and their church by working to bring other people to faith in Jesus Christ.

They had seen many, including themselves, receive forgiveness from the Lord and be released from their past, but now these two were unwilling to forgive each another and receive release from a bondage that they themselves had created…

Did you catch that? They had been released from their past. They were now in a position that they have an opportunity to seriously think about releasing someone else from similar type of bondage.

Ok,then... who is there in your life that you hold prisoner?

We have travelled this road before, and we will travel it again, but besides them, you do understand that you hold yourself in that same prison.

Even if you don’t really want to let them go, shouldn’t you release yourself?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Little Cat Feet: Twitterverse and Love

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of drama unfolding in our little twitterverse. And, it’s not that we are separate from the rest of the world; in fact, we are but a microcosm of the world in which we live, a snippet.

We have lost a compatriot, seen A-lister’s behaving badly , shifted some of our alliances, followed and un-followed with abandon.

But, in the midst of all this noise and foolishness, something wonderful happened.

While all of this posturing is going on, while people are breaking away from others they have suddenly outgrown, while people step over each other to show that “we are the one,”…while all of this is going on, a little boy got sick.

A little boy lay gravely ill, somewhere.

A mother sits by his bedside afraid for her child’s life.

And the rest of the world goes on without noticing.

Not so!

A personal plea filtered through my twitter stream from a cyber-friend, Irene, asking me to join my voice, heart and spirit to thousands of other to pray for God’s grace, mercy and blessing on their lives.

What an awesome group of people.
We are not all Christian; we a Jewish, Buddhist, Hindi, Atheist, many mixtures and more.

We are not even all necessarily the same “type” of Christian; we are Baptist, Evangelical, Catholic, Presbyterian and more.

But….we are all human.

For all that has been spoken and written about what is vitally and fundamentally wrong with the Internet, there is much good.

Underneath the noise we love and care for each other.

We offer support in the hour of crisis.

We love each other.
And, just like real families, that love is not always obvious. That love creeps in like little cat feet. It comes in just beneath the noise. (apologies to Carl Sandberg, and thank God for public education)

This is my community.

This is love.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You've decided to start a blog. Cool! (part 4)

Everything in life, every activity we embark upon starts with an idea.

You’re still reading, so you’ve decided to pull the proverbial trigger and move forward with your plan to blog. Good.

Let me start with a couple of disclaimers:

First and foremost, I am a newbie. I will likely consider myself to be one for a very long time. There is always more to learn. I am making an effort to pass along what I have learned so far. I’m not a guru, an expert, an A-lister, or any other term that may fall into that category.

The second is harder to explain, because there is a difference in my mind. I am not a writer, I am a blogger. There are many people who are great writers, who happen to also blog, I am not one of those.

So, let’s go…

1. You have your basic idea:

  • What do I want to talk (write) about?
  • What approach am I going to use?
  • How is my approach different? Why will someone read my stuff?
2. Sit down and write.

  • You’ve got your first article (or post).

  • There is much debate about length, but I would suggest writing the initial pieces out to their full extent. You can alter it later.

  • Strive to produce your best completed work…not perfection.

  • Save your work on your computer. Jesus saves! (sorry, couldn't resist)

3. WHERE  / HOW am I going to publish?

  • There is a vast array of free services available. My recommendation is to Google (yes, it’s a verb) it. Google “free blog,” and an almost inexhaustible list will appear. Choose one or two, they are free. You may find that one is easier for you to use than another. And, you can always switch later. Remember, we are just trying to get started. 

  • The most popular ones will be at the top of the list. They are usually WordPress and Blogger. These are both fairly easy to use. You don’t really have to know any “code” or computer-speak to get started.

4. Read the instructions…twice! (And maybe print them out)

  • Most will require your email address as part of the registration. This is needed for “confirmation” that it’s you. This will also help you get back into the site if your forget passwords, etc.

  • You must name the blog. This is usually covered in the registration.

BAM! You have a blog. You are now a blogger, congratulations.

Now what?


Friday, September 16, 2011

Where is peace? 2

Webster has defined peace for us stating that it comes from getting rid of something or getting away from something.

I’d like to make the case that peace comes not necessarily by getting rid of our problems, but refocusing our thoughts to what God wants us to think about.

“Peace is that calm of mind that is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by fear.” (quote source and original author unknown)

Peace does not come only with the absence of the storm. We should be able to find our peace in the very presence of the storm because Jesus is always walking there beside us, and we’ve got our eyes on Him.

It is important to learn that peace means "being in a right relationship." So carrying this thought to it obvious conclusion, peace with one another means being in a right relationship with one another.

Peace within means being in right relationship with ourselves and with God. A few days ago we talked a little about toxic thinking, and part of what I was driving at was that once we recognize those thoughts, we want to move forward into the realm of reality thinking and right relationships with others, God and ourselves

How do we get there?

1. Peace comes through a mind that forgives. (vs. 2-3)

The church that Paul was writing to, the church in the city of Philippi did not have peace. One of the main reasons for this lack of peace in the church was two women that were fighting with one another. Their names were Eu-o-dia and Syn-ty-che.

We have no record of what they were fighting about, but whatever it was, it had separated their friendship with each other. And, if you think of broken relationships in these terms, it sounds almost painful. We are separated from the rightness of relationships. Now, we don't have this relationship with everyone; but here we talking about a right relationship that once existed, but is no more.

This situation was creating enough of a problem that word had gotten all the way to Paul who was in prison. Paul knew that this was something that he had to deal with because he knew how destructive fights between individuals within the church can be to the life of that church.

Look at what he says in verse 1. He describes the people of this church as brothers, the ones he longs to be with because of his love for them. He calls them his source of joy and his crown. And he calls them his friends.

Paul started the church at Philippi. Most of the people in the church had been saved as a result of Paul’s teaching. That included these two women who were now fighting.

The people there were a labor of love for Paul, and now, it looked like things might fall apart.

Have you ever been there? You’ve put your whole heart and soul into some project or person, and something so small that it may go unnoticed initially, gets in the way and destroys everything that you have worked for.

Little problems kill!

Little problems kill relationships; kill our spirit and left untreated can kill us.

What little things have you let fester in your heart that keep you separated? Separated from other people? Separated from your peace?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where is peace?

This is an old story, and perhaps you have heard this one about a certain beauty queen? She was a beauty queen in Virginia several years ago. 

Shortly after crowning her successor, she drove 250 miles to seek revenge on her ex-boyfriend for jilting her and marrying another.

She took along a pistola hammerlighter fluid & matches. When she arrived at his house and rang the doorbellit was answered by his new father-in-law.

She faked having car trouble, and asked if she could use the telephone. Once inside the house, she took out her hammer and hit the father-in-law on the head. She stunned him, but didn’t knock him out. What she didn’t realize was that he was an ex-secret service agentHe grabbed her and as they struggledshe pulled the pistol from her purse and tried to shoot him.

That’s when the mother-in-law joined the fray and the two of them wrestled her to the floor, holding her until the police arrived.

I would guess that Tracy
with that kind of disposition, was probably never in the running for the Miss Congeniality award.

When questionedshe said that she was driven to seek revenge because she needed "inner peace."

our subject for the next few days is, "Where is Peace?"

Our primary text is Philippians 4:1-9, where we find the phrase, "the peace...which transcends all understanding."

In these verses, Paul deals with the subjects of peace with one another, peace withinand peace with God.

For most of us, if someone asked us, WHAT IS PEACE?”, we'd have trouble coming up with a concrete answer. Peace is one of those things that everyone wants, but no one has a real clear answer of what it is or how to get it and how to keep it.  

Let's start on some common ground. I like to look in the dictionary whenever I have a word that I need to try to understand better. 

Webster’s has this to say about peace- it is :
  •  the “freedom from or stopping of war; 
  •  freedom from public disturbance or disorder;
  •  freedom from disagreement or calm, quiet, tranquility.”

All of these explanations of peace talk about peace as if it is something that happens when conflict and problems are not present.

I have to get rid of all those things that create anxiety in my in my life in order for me to have peace.

I have to get rid of my husband or my kids, or my boss or my neighbors or my bills.

If this is indeed the cast, then we will never have peace, because as long as we are alivewe will always have conflict, and we will always have problems.

This is not so...