Thursday, September 14, 2017

Stop Vomiting on People (by Leslie Vernick)

This message needs to be shouted from the rooftops! See Leslie Vernick's website for more help on dealing with abusive and troubled relationships...
Leslie Vernick 
These days we are influenced by a culture of talk and tweets. We’re told to express our feelings, hold nothing back. We’ve all seen in national news how people’s unrestrained talk and tweets get them into public hot water. Every day I see the relational fallout that comes from thoughtless, foolish, deceitful, and cruel words.
But there are times we ought to keep our negative thoughts and emotions to ourselves and refuse to give them a voice. The Bible warns us that our tongue can be a mighty weapon, for good and for evil. (James 3:6-10). Proverbs says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). We can damage a person’s spirit, family, or reputation by blurting out negative thoughts and feelings without any thought or prayer. Yes, it might temporarily help you feel better when you’re mad or hurt to blurt them out, but I liken blurting to vomit. It does feel better to get vomit out, but vomit belongs in the toilet and not on another person.
It’s not only good for the other person that you learn not to blurt your negative thoughts and feelings during moments of great intensity. It is also good for you.
Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
1 Peter 3:10 says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
Imagine how much better you would feel if you weren’t always complaining or critical of something wrong in your life? How would your relationships be improved if the people in your life weren’t wary of your reckless or deceitful words? How different would you feel about yourself if you weren’t so captured by your own negative feelings and thoughts?
Here are three things you can do to stop blurting.
1. Decide: No matter how negatively you feel, make a conscious decision that you will not vomit your toxic emotions out on others. (Don’t get me wrong – you may have to speak some hard words at times, but hard words need not be harsh words). The psalmist determined, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence” (Psalm 39:1).
2. Acknowledge the struggle: In Psalm 39 despite his vow to keep silent, the psalmist found keeping quiet tough. Silence didn’t bring the psalmist satisfaction but more anguish (see verses 2 and 3). During a time of anguish and temptation, write a no-send letter venting out your feelings or praying them out to God until you can get a better perspective and calm down.
3. Remember the big picture: It’s crucial that you understand that YOU are much more than your temporal thoughts and feelings. We all have negative thoughts and feelings but it’s important to not allow them to have us. Instead of getting stuck in your mood or negative thoughts, remind yourself that you are more than your feelings and you will have to give an account to God for how you handled yourself during times of adversity. Remember your goal (I don’t want to vomit on people), your deeper desires (I want to be a godly person, or I don’t want to have regrets later) or your core values (I want to treat people as I would like to be treated). This practice helps us develop the muscle of restraint and self-control so that we don’t become a slave to our emotions.
Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words…It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

Decide today that you will no longer let your negative feelings get the best of you and hurt other people.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Power of Influence

Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

One day, I was trying to turn around a median in an unfamiliar area, when I realized I had gone the wrong way around the median. The worst thing was is that three cars were following me!

That is the way our lives are: our lives are like a book that is read by others, making a huge impact for good or bad.[1]

 My Dad used to constantly remind us of the importance of using our influence for good, and he used to tell us that you will never realize how many lives you have impacted for good or bad just by your example.

One of the criteria I always told my children to look for when choosing a friend or dating someone is whether the person made them a better person, as well as if they made the other person a better person by being in their life.  That is something I want in my marriage:  to make my husband a better person by me being in his life, and to let him make me a better person because he is in my life!

I want people to think about me and think they were better because I was in their lives, not worse! I am keenly aware that my influence in the lives of others is a very powerful force, and I really work on making sure that my influence makes this world a more beautiful, exciting, fun, and appreciated place.

Did you realize that we are going to give account for the stewardship of the time, talents and money God has given us and how we spent it? Particularly how you impacted and influenced the lives of others.

Actually I LOVE the Greek word for “wicked” (when it tells us to put the wicked away from us[2]) actually means harmful in effect or influence. That is who is wicked to God: someone who is influencing others for things that will be bad for them.[3]

We always made a big deal about influence in our family.  I showed the older ones many examples of how the younger ones followed after them; emphasizing the importance of every little thing we did when others' eyes are on us.  

Remember that you are always an example, for good or bad, to others that we influence, sometimes even when we don’t realize they are influencing others.  Embed in your hearts and minds the realization that what we do and how we behave impacts the world around us.  

Here is a great poem I used to read to my children, and because of Jesse’s incredible influence with his siblings, I put this poem with Jesse's and Daniel's picture in their album:

There are little eyes upon you
and they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol,
you're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he's grown up just like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow
who believes you're always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who's waiting
to grow up to be like you.

Challenge: What do others say about your influence in their lives? When you are around do you pull greatness from others, or assist and encourage them to do things that are zero impact or even a negative in their lives? When people look back at times spent with you, will they remember that you made their lives better or worse?

Use your influence for good! Make a positive difference wherever you go and with whomever you come in contact with! Make the world a better place because you are in it, and start with those closest to you! Not only will your life make a difference in the lives of others and your own life too, but the things you do will not be burned away when the fire tests what you spent your efforts on!

[1] 2 Corinthians 3.2
[2] 1 Corinthians 5.13
[3] 1 Corinthians 3:9–15 (GW)

[1] 2 Corinthians 3.2
[2] 1 Corinthians 5.13
[3] 1 Corinthians 3:9–15 (GW)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How Then We Ought to Live

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (Romans 12.1 Phillips)

Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. (1 John 2.6 MSG)

Time. 24/7. A precious commodity. When we learn to pay attention to the little time we really have, it helps us to be wise about the things and people we spend time with.

Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalms 90:12 GWORD)

Life is just a minute—only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon you—can't refuse it.
Didn't seek it—didn't choose it.
But it's up to you to use it.
You must suffer if you lose it.
Give an account if you abuse it.
Just a tiny, little minute,
But eternity is in it!
(By Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays)

Look at your calendar; examine what you are spending your time doing. Do the hours spent reflect your priorities?

Some things can’t change: you can’t decide to not work because it isn’t your priority over your family. What you can do, however, is to be sure that your priorities are lived out apart from work.

Too many people are not living out their priorities. You cannot say you put God and His Word first and only spend one hour a week at Church. If you say God is first, and your relationship with the Lord is first, your calendar cannot give no time at all to spending in the Word, in prayer, and in Church activities that matter for eternity.

That is why the Lord demands the first fruits of your day. Jesus Himself spent time daily in prayer, how much more we need to. Without prayer the hand of God does not move. I don’t want to leave things to chance that the Lord can intervene in if someone is praying! Especially in raising children!

If you rarely spend time in Bible study, prayer, and doing things for the Lord and His people, this imbalance will yield a harvest in the of your children, and the time for the Lord and in His Word and time for Church activities will be pushed aside to the next level that you even did it. 

If you want Jesus Christ to rule in your lives and homes, He wants first place there. How have you given Him first place in your homes?

If you want your spouse to be number 2 in your life, PRIORITIZE them on your calendar and with TIME.

If you want your family to be number 3 in your life, make FAMILY a priority with TIME investments. That means to NOT live like you are divorced with the husband taking the kids so the wife can have a “break” and vice versa; but it means spending time as a FAMILY with mother and father and children together by choice.  The more you practice this the more you will train your children to make it a joyous thing. The less you practice this the more difficult it is to have family time.

Sadly, too many people prioritize people, events, and things on their calendars that will not even matter in 10 years. Many people are given priority that won’t even be in your lives in 10 years while your children and spouse are left unattended. Too many other things are given priority so that your family time looks more like a split custody situation than a family.

This week look at your calendar and be sure you are living out your priorities!