4 Holy Spirit-Enhanced Habits

According to Paul, there are only two ways people can live: in the flesh or in the Spirit. That is—(1) operating separate from God, or (2) with a soul/body that is operating with God’s full involvement. 

The trouble is: we’re always—as long as we’re alive—still in the flesh because we need these bodies to carry around our soul and spirit. But changes begin to occur first at salvation (when the connection of our spirit to God’s Spirit is reestablished), and even more so after being baptized in the Holy Spirit (when we are not trying to work out things on our own). 

As a result, we have the same brain, but a mind that is being renewed; the same eyes, but insight that is being expanded; the same ears, but learning new ways to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. 

Remember that Jesus promised that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower us TO BE His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Not just to do things differently, but to have our spirit so enlivened by the Holy Spirit that we are living, breathing, walking, talking witnesses of a life transformed.

Have you noticed that there wasn’t a steep “learning curve” for the disciples of Jesus following Pentecost? Part of that is due to four key habits that the Holy Spirit helped form in their lives. 

  1. Correct biblical application—We immediately see people going from “They didn’t understand from the Scriptures” to quickly applying biblical texts to their current situations. This is exactly what Jesus promised would happen (John 20:6-9; Acts 2:16, 25, 34; John 14:26). 
  1. Intercessory prayer—To intercede is to take someone else’s needs to God on their behalf. The Holy Spirit can help us apply Scripture to our prayers, and can even help us without words at all (Acts 4:24-26; Romans 8:26-27). 
  1. Creative thinking—Christians should be the most creative thinkers in the world (Psalm 119:99; Jeremiah 33:3; 1 Corinthians 2:10). 
  1. Healthy conflict resolution—We’re all different, so not seeing eye-to-eye is bound to happen, but Spirit-empowered Christians will be able to resolve conflicts faster and with better results (Acts 6:1-8; Acts 15:1-31). 

“Your life as a Christian should make unbelievers question their disbelief in God.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen! Your life as a Christian that is living out daily habits that have been empowered by the Spirit should make everyone around you want to go deeper and deeper into all that the Holy Spirit has in store for them too. 

Join me next Sunday as we take another look at what it means when we say We Are: Pentecostal. 

8 More Powerful Relationship Quotes

Keep Your Love OnI have shared a couple of sets of quotes from Danny Silk’s book Keep Your Love On! (which you can read here and here). I have also posted a review on this book here.

This book is a must-read for pastors or counselors who do marriage or family counseling. This is also an excellent book to read if you have a relationship in your life that you would like to see healed or strengthened. Check out a few more quotes below.

“If you cannot communicate your needs to another person clearly, it is obviously going to be very difficult for that person to meet them. That’s why one of the primary tasks of reaching maturity is learning how to express thoughts, feelings, and needs. Those who never learn this skill, however, expect relationships to function without it. They say things like, ‘Well, if you love me, then you will just know what I need. Didn’t you notice that that bothered me? Haven’t you been paying attention? I can’t believe you don’t know that about me.’ Where does this desire or expectation that loved ones have a telepathic ability to know our feelings and needs come from? It comes from powerlessness and fear. It comes from dreaming that everything will turn out magically without actually having to communicate. Powerless people want to win the lottery, get their dream girl/guy with minimal effort, lose weight without exercise, and get their needs met without ever having to say a word.”

“The reason we can’t get our needs met without expressing them is that we were designed to have our needs met through a relational exchange. God made us this way. … Think about it. God, the one Person in the universe Who knows all things, and knows us incomparably better than we know ourselves, never says, ‘Well, obviously I know your needs, so you don’t need to tell Me about them.’ Instead, He repeatedly tells us to ask Him for what we need, and gives us some of the most profound, beautiful, and honest language for doing so—like the Lord’s Prayer, and most of the Psalms. He won’t meet our needs outside of a connection where we have to show up and crack our hearts open to Him, because that very connection is what we need to have our needs met in the first place.”

“If you want to protect your connection and build trust by always communicating respectfully, then your guiding rule must be, ‘It’s my job to tell you about me, and your job to tell me about you.’ The best tool for telling another person about you is an ‘I message.’ The basic structure of the ‘I message’ is: ‘I feel [emotion] when [described experience] and I need to feel [emotion].’” 

“As you construct an ‘I message,’ make sure that you are really expressing a feeling, not an opinion. … If you start to say, ‘I feel like…’ you should stop and check yourself—because what is most likely going to follow is not a feeling, but a judgment. And a judgment statement is actually an expression of mistrust, not trust.”

“Intimacy—‘into-me-see’—is created between two people who can say, ‘We can be ourselves together because you can see into me and I can see into you.’ The experience of intimacy—of being completely known and accepted, and completely knowing and accepting in return—is the most satisfying experience we can have as humans. Intimacy in a safe place brings euphoria. Remember the Garden of Eden? Paradise was the place where a man and a woman were unafraid to be vulnerable and intimate with each other in every way. The problem is that most of us are scared to death to be vulnerable in relationships. The reason is simple: In being vulnerable, we reach for our greatest need while risking our greatest pain.”

“Fear of rejection and shame sets us up to fall for the enemy’s counterfeits. Ever since sin entered the world and humanity became disconnected from God, we have been looking for ways to get our needs met outside of relationship or any scenario where we are required to be vulnerable and risk our hearts. We have always desperately sought the benefits of intimacy without wanting to pay the price. And the enemy continues to offer us the euphoric experiences we think we can control—things like alcohol, drugs, sex, Internet pornography, shopping, carbohydrates, adrenaline, or cash. We use these things to give ourselves a euphoric release and take care of our needs. But the counterfeits always have ugly repercussions, like drunk drivers killing innocent people, young kids destroying their brains, men ignoring the beautiful real women beside them in favor of the images, serious debt, morbid obesity and the host of diseases that accompany it, thrill seekers slowly becoming numb to reality, and selfish jerks not caring who they step on to get what they want. Counterfeits never come through.”

“Every respectful conversation needs one speaker and one listener at all times. … The listening role is the true servant role in a respectful conversation. The listener affirms, ‘Right now, this conversation is about you and your needs. I am here to help you figure them out and find a way to help you get them met.’ But in the end, the listener is really the winner. If I listen well, I will have two vital pieces of information—what you need and what I need to do. With these two pieces of information, I start to identify and take ownership of the problem and create an effective solution.”

“A skilled listener with a servant’s heart is the deadliest weapon against the fear-bombs that threaten connection.”

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

“If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” —A.W. Tozer

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.” —C.S. Lewis

I believe the biggest reason why families are being redefined today is not because of liberal vs. conservative ideology. It’s because we had to embrace a new ‘community’ when the nuclear family exploded. Traditional families have been broken, yet people still want to be in a ‘family,’ even if it’s temporary. Sadly, this family thing often fails. Whether in a home, a team, a dorm, a company, a gym or a church, we tend to walk away rather than work at difficult relationships. We’re like porcupines—we tend to hurt each other when we get close.” Read more of the outstanding post from Tim Elmore: How Eating Alone Costs More Than You Think.

A great post to cut through the mis-information: Myths About Roe v. Wade.

According to some research, over half of women who have abortions do so under pressure, while those who resist can face violence and death. …The Center for Disease Control lists homicide as a leading cause of death among pregnant women.” Here are more facts contradicting the pro-abortion crowd’s rhetoric.

Good stuff: 8 Things Every Healthy Marriage Has.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Ten Evidences For Creation.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Facts on illegal immigrants.

Embracing Conflict

Come alongsideA quick survey… Please raise your hand if any of these pertain to you:

  • Have you ever had a disagreement with someone?
  • Have you had a disagreement with someone you love?
  • Have you had a disagreement with someone you love, who also called themselves a Christian?

If you raised your hand for these questions, you join 100% of my congregation who answered “yes” to all three.

When we are in close proximity to anyone, there will be conflict. In fact, close proximity usually leads to more conflict, because closeness increases friction. For a Christian the issue is not if we will have conflict with others in the Church, but how we will navigate and resolve these conflicts.

The Apostle Paul wrote a thank you letter to the church at Philippi, in which he speaks in some of the most glowingly loving terms of any of his letters. Clearly this was a group of people close to his heart. So when he heard about the conflict between two ladies in this congregation, he took time to address it in his letter—

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2)

We don’t know why these ladies were arguing, but notice that Paul doesn’t take sides. He simply says “I please with Euodia AND I plead with Syntyche.” The word for plead means someone who comes alongside to help. In using this terminology, Paul gives us an important principle…

We can come alongside those in conflict without taking sides with either one of those in conflict.

In the next verse Paul implores the rest of the church to join him in the alongside-ness

And I exhort you too, my genuine yokefellow, help these two women to keep on cooperating…. (v. 3, Amplified Bible)

In other words, Paul wants the rest of the church to embrace these at-odds sisters too, without taking sides. He addresses the members of the church as yokefellow. It’s not a word we use too often today (although it is still in the dictionary), but it paints a crystal clear picture of our role. Here’s what we CAN’T do as yokefellow:

  • Look away
  • Mind our own business
  • Hope the situation will work itself out
  • Try to navigate around the problem

Instead we embrace the conflict by embracing those in the conflict. We help them to cooperate and to work in harmony in the Lord (v. 2, Amplified Bible). It’s our responsibility to help maintain the bonds of peace, so that the Body of Christ can grow in a way that is healthy and God-honoring.

Do you know someone in conflict right now? Are you in the conflict yourself? Ask God to show you how you can come alongside—not take sides—those in this conflict to bring about peace.

Please join me next Sunday as I continue this series of message on Life Together.

Negotiating Conflict

Last week I spent two jam-packed days at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. As always, I was on information overload with the great content that is presented every year. So I’ve been taking some time to ponder what I learned.

There are a couple of past post on my blog that consistently rank near the top of the list of “most read”:

With that in mind, William Ury’s discussion on how to successfully negotiate conflict really caught my attention.

Ury pointed out that conflict isn’t bad; it’s natural. Therefore, we don’t need to eliminate conflict, but find ways to deal with it in constructive ways.

I’ve tried to learn to look at myself in the mirror before entering into discussions where the potential for conflict is high. This thought was reinforced when Ury said: The greatest obstacle to successful negotiation is: Me. Why? Because I tend to react. “When you’re angry, you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret,” he said.

The greatest power we have in negotiation is the power NOT to react. 

Here are some strategies William Ury shared for successful negotiations:

  • Separate people from the problem. Be soft with people and hard with the problem. Soft means listening, empathy, and respect. Change the game: instead of squaring-off against each other face-to-face, be side-by-side facing the problem.
  • Focus on interests not positions. Probe behind the position to find out what the underlying interest is. He gave a great example about two girls who each wanted the one remaining orange. Our natural instinct is to divide the orange so each girl gets one half. But in watching what happens next, we see one girl throw away the peel and eat the fruit; the other throws away the fruit and uses the peel to complete her cake recipe. If we had figured out the interests of each girl, both girls could have had a whole orange! 
  • Develop multiple options. Search for creative options that meet the needs of everyone. Ury shared an example of a successful solution to a problem in the Middle East. Egypt wanted the Sinai peninsula because it was their historic possession; Israel wanted the same piece of land as a security buffer. The solution: let Egypt have sovereign control of the Sinai peninsula, but make it a demilitarized zone. Both sides got what they wanted.
  • Expand the pie before we divide it up. Uses standards that are objectively fair to each side.

The final piece of advice William Ury shared was the concept of BATNA = best alternative to a negotiated agreement. I need to think this through before any negotiations start. This is what I have determined ahead of time that I will walk away with if the negotiation doesn’t go as planned. Ury pointed out that we can negotiate with more confidence if we have a BATNA.

I thought this was pretty good advice. What do you think?

No Ear = No Heart

Israel’s early history goes something like this: King David firmly established Israel’s boundaries, King Solomon built on David’s success, then King Rehoboam split the country in half.

As Rehoboam became king the people asked him to reconsider the working conditions that existed under his father Solomon. Rehoboam consulted with his father’s counselors, who advised him to listen to the people. Then he consulted with his friends, who told him to make the working conditions even harsher. Unfortunately, Rehoboam listened to his friends’ advice.

Here’s what happened

When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So all the Israelites went home.

The people didn’t rebel because they didn’t get the answer they wanted; they rebelled because their leader didn’t listen to them. This word for listen means:

  • Pay attention
  • Carefully consider
  • Empathize

The people felt rejected because Rehoboam didn’t listen. In essence they said,

“We don’t have your ear, so you won’t get our heart!”

A leader doesn’t have to give in, nor does he have to give the people everything they ask for. But he does have to listen – truly listen. He has to put himself in their place and feel what they feel.

People will never give a leader their buy-in or support if they don’t feel they have his ear.

No ear of the leader = No heart of the people

Hey, leaders, are you listening?

Church Problems

Churches have problems. Why? Quite simply because the church is made up of imperfect people who have problems. I have issues. You have issues. And when our issues cross each other, there will be problems. Whether it’s at work, at church, at school or at home, whenever there is more than one person, there will be problems.

I’m passionately dedicated to the principle for conflict resolution Jesus taught in Matthew 18. Most notably people go wrong at the very first step. Here’s the one step that would keep so many of the problems solvable – TALK TO THE PERSON ABOUT THE PROBLEM.

That’s it. Don’t talk to a third party about a problem you have with someone else. TALK TO THE PERSON. Otherwise, this video shows the sorts of problems you’ll create –

Did you see what happened at the end? Everyone ran away. Nothing was solved. The problem got worse. Can I reiterate it one more time? Don’t talk to someone else about the problem, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem.

Will this magically solve the problem? Of course not. But it will open the door for dialogue where perhaps the issue can be resolved. However one thing is guaranteed… if you talk to someone else, you will make the problem worse – times ten!

Clear enough?

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