How Guys Unintentionally Sabotage Their Relationships

There is a relationship killer that seems to be particularly hard for men. It’s hard because men’s brains are designed in a way that sometimes prohibits them from even seeing this issue.

Bill & Pam Farrel wrote a book called Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. The Farrels identify how men tend to compartmentalize their lives. That is, guys can be so absorbed in one “box” in their life that they are completely oblivious to the other boxes. For instance, when a man is at work he seldom thinks about the other areas of his life (his wife, his kids, the bills that need to be paid, what he’s going to have for lunch).

In addition, men’s brains are also designed to stay in those boxes where things can be quickly fixed. A guy likes fixing things, so the boxes where he can do something and see an immediate result is a box he’s going to keep going back to again and again.

Here’s the trouble… Relationships don’t fit in nice, neat boxes. Neither are relationships something that can be “fixed.” And relationships are never, ever fixed or improved quickly.

So if a guy isn’t aware of these things, he can be unintentionally sabotaging the relationships around him.

King David illustrated this in his unintentional lack of involvement in three of his sons’ lives—

  • Amnon pursued an unhealthy relationship with his step-sister. David got mad but never did anything about it (2 Samuel 13:21).
  • Absalom got revenge for what Amnon did and then fled the country. When David finally allowed him to return to Israel, they never met to resolve what went wrong (2 Samuel 14:28).
  • Adonijah wanted to be king after David, but the Bible says, “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” (1 Kings 1:6).

Dave Wills wrote, “We all tend to craft a self-focused view of the world where we emerge as either a hero or a victim in every scene. We’re never the villains in the story. The truth is, though, that we’ve all been the bad guy more often than we’d like to admit. A life of love requires that we look in the mirror and give an honest and humble self-assessment.”

The way to defeat this relationship killer is to become aware of it through humble self-assessment. David learned this truth and shared his prayer with us: “Search me, O God. Show me any areas in my life where I am off-track” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In response to this prayer, the Holy Spirit must have showed David how he had unintentionally starved his relationships with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, because he became highly involved in his son Solomon’s life.

So much so that as Solomon talked to his children about how they should live, he also told them where he had learned how to do this—his father taught him (Proverbs 4:1-4).

Guys, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been unintentionally in another box. It doesn’t matter how strained the relationship may have become. If you will humbly ask God to search you, reveal to you where you’ve messed up, and ask Him to help you get better … your relationships WILL begin to improve!

Don’t wait another day to pray that “Search me” prayer!

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Five Women; One Amazing Story!

For some of you, it’s hard to put the word “happy” in front of Mother’s Day.

One definition of happy is “favored by fortune; lucky.” In other words, we’re happy IF things happen to be going our way. But we don’t know how things are going to turn out?

In the last Super Bowl, the New England Patriots were down by 25 points early in the 3rd quarter. It didn’t appear that things were going the Patriots’ way … except they won!

So don’t judge “happy” or “not happy” by how things are going in the middle of the story! 

To God, all of History is His Story. He knows every move, every hurt, every fumble, every betrayal, every noble deed, every evil deed … nothing escapes His notice. And it all fits into His Story—We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor ALL THINGS work together and are fitting into a plan for good… (Romans 8:28).

Check out the stories of these five women—

Tamar had to pretend to be a prostitute in order to get her father-in-law to followthrough on his commitment. As a result, she became pregnant by him and was almost burned at the stake.

Rahab didn’t pretend to be a prostitute; she was a prostitute. She lived in an important city that was about to be defeated by the Israelites. Instead of trying to make things easier on herself, she trusted God and put herself in a very dangerous position.

Ruth was a non-Israelite married to an Israelite man. But when her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law all died, she took a huge risk in staying with her mother-in-law. She could have moved in with her family in a country she knew, but she went where she was an alien, a widow, and dirt poor.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah, who was a member of the king’s inner circle. But the king took advantage of her when Uriah was away at war, impregnated her, killed her husband, and then married her. Their son from that union died shortly after being born, but Bathsheba trusted God to make something good of her tragedy.

Mary was engaged to be married when she was found to be pregnant. Society could have shunned her, her fiancé could have had her killed for her unfaithfulness, but she trusted God to keep His word.

These five mothers are the ONLY women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-6, 16)

God used all of these women. Despite the way they were treated or mistreated; despite their own mistakes; despite the injustices committed against them. God used all of them as irreplaceable parts of His Story.

To God, all of History is His Story! He’s doing things through your life that you can’t possibly imagine. Trust Him—if you do, your name will also be recorded in the best “His Story” ever recorded! 

Whenever you don’t know what’s going on, lean into Him, cry out to Him. But then say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” And what does God say? “I am working ALL THINGS together to tell My Story through your life!”

13 Quotes From “Prevailing Prayer”

prevailing-prayerD.L. Moody challenges all Christians to stick with prayer a little longer. Far too many of us give up too soon, and miss out on the miracle God wants to do. Check out my review of Prevailing Prayer by clicking here.

“The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. … If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

“The reason we so often fail in moving our fellowmen is that we try to win them without first getting power with God. Jesus was in communion with His Father, and so He could be assured that His prayers were heard.”

“It is not by eloquent sermons that perishing souls are going to be reached; we need the power of God in order that the blessing may come down.”

“Our Master’s prayers were short when offered in public; when He was alone with God that was a different thing, and He could spend the whole night in communion with His Father. My experience is that those who pray most in their closets generally make short prayers in public.”

“In Proverbs 28:9 we read, ‘He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.’ Think of that! It may shock some of us to think that our prayers are an abomination to God, yet if any are living in known sin, this is what God’s Word says about them.” 

“There is a great deal more said in the Bible about praise than prayer; yet how few praise-meetings there are! David, in his Psalms, always mixes praise with prayer. Solomon prevailed much with God in prayer at the dedication of the temple; but it was the voice of praise which brought down the glory that filled the house. … However great our difficulties, or deep even our sorrows, there is room for thankfulness.”

“Even if nothing else called for thankfulness, it would always be an ample cause for it that Jesus Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us.”

“When the church, the pulpit, and the pew get united, and God’s people are all of one mind, Christianity is like a red-hot ball rolling over the earth, and all the hosts of death and hell cannot stand before it.”

“We are not told that Jesus ever taught His disciples how to preach, but He taught them how to pray. He wanted them to have power with God; then He knew they would have power with man.” 

“It is not the most beautiful or the most eloquent language that brings down the answer; it is the cry that goes up from a burdened heart.”

“Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The only way to trouble God is not to come at all. He encourages us to come to Him repeatedly, and press our claims.”

“The Lord delights in hearing His children make their requests known unto Him—telling their troubles all out to Him; and then we should wait for His time.”

“Let our prayer be that God may advance His work, not for our glory—not for our sake—but for the sake of His beloved Son whom He hath sent.”

Little Is Not Insignificant

gods-promise-to-youPastor Phillips Brooks visited Israel in the mid-1800s. While there he visited a small church just outside of Bethlehem. Listening to the worshipful songs being sung in that quiet countryside, he was inspired to pen the words to O Little Town Of Bethlehem.

Because of that quiet setting, notice how Rev. Brooks notices things we often miss—

  • little town on Bethlehem
  • in thy dark streets
  • while mortals sleep
  • no ear may hear His coming

But little does not mean insignificant. And just because we can’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or it isn’t important.

Sometimes we’ve looked and listened and waited and searched for so long that we have given up and we begin to drift off to sleep. We continue to live in our own “little town” surrounded by silence. And we are in danger of missing a miracle right in our midst!

We know today that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But did you know that this little town was still so obscure in Christ’s day that many people in Israel were unaware of what went on there? (See John 7:41-43). Even after King Herod had gruesomely killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, scarcely anyone outside of that town knew about it or cared about it.

But God cared. And He knew exactly what He was doing.

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4)—the exact right moment—to be born in Bethlehem—the exact right place (Micah 5:2). Notice even Micah says of Bethlehem though you are small among the clans of Judah, giving birth to the title of Rev. Brooks’ poem.

How small was it? Look at the description of the territory for the tribe of Judah (in Joshua 15), and you can easily glossed over the names of all of the towns. But look more closely and you will see something you didn’t read in that list of towns. Take a close look at all 38 cities: it’s still missing.

There are a couple of very notable figures that dominate the Old and New Testaments, and they have something in common—King David and Jesus both come from the tribe of Judah. And both of them were born in Bethlehem. But in the list of towns in Judah’s territory, there is absolutely no mention of Bethlehem.

This town either didn’t exist, or it was so “insignificant” that Joshua didn’t even think to mention it. It would be almost another 500 years before David would be born in Bethlehem, and then another 900 years after that before Jesus would be born in this little town of Bethlehem.

God had in mind for the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history and the King of all kings to come from such humble origins… from a village that didn’t even make the list. Bethlehem was ready for these kings at just the right moment!

Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will never pass away. What promise in His Word do you need to cling to? 

Just as those awaiting the Messiah clung to Micah’s promise until it came to pass, you must find God’s promise for you in His Word, cling to it, and don’t let go until it comes to pass in your little town.

5 Key Parts To A Synergy Relationship

img_1970King David of Israel was a stud! Outstanding song writer, professional shepherd, bear killer, lion killer, giant killer, decorated army general, and ultimately king of Israel.

Near the end of his life we read an extensive list of Mighty Men that supported David. Some of these guys were also giant killers. One guy singlehandedly defeated 300 enemies, another guy defeated 800 bad guys, one guy killed a lion, and on and on the list goes.

I believe it is clear that David wouldn’t have become king without the support of his Mighty Men, and these guys probably wouldn’t have been recognized as “Mighty Men” without David’s support.

This is a classic definition of synergy. Synergy is when the outcome is so much greater than just the addition of the parts. Sort of like 1 + 1 = 5.

All of us can be a part of synergistic relationships, if we will include these five key parts.

[1] Humility

Without humility, you will never let anyone else into your life, and it’s doubtful they will let you in. Humility says, “I don’t have all the answers. I need some help in fulfilling my God-given dream. I have some areas of weakness where you are strong.”

[2] Confidence

Just like humility, without confidence it’s doubtful others would allow you access to their lives. Confidence says, “I have some something I am willing to offer you. I have a God-given strength in an area where you may be struggling.” The Apostle Paul said, all of us have strengths that God has given us that are to be used to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7).

[3] Collaboration

Quite simply, in order for synergy to work, the people in the relationship have to be willing to labor together. Paul used the example of one person planting the seed and another person watering the seed. Both laborers are necessary if there is going to be a harvest.

[4] Patience

The journey with others may be slower and messier than traveling solo, but it’s so much more rewarding (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

[5] Investment

Synergy is really about there being a return on investment. But if you’re not willing to invest your time, your learning, your love, can you really expect there to be a synergistic return?

I just wrapped up a year-long investment with a group of guys from my church. What an amazing time! I am definitely better for having been involved with this synergy group, and I believe all of the other guys would tell you the same thing. You, too, can experience this same joy by investing in a synergy group of your own!

#MOWT

justice-mercy-graceLast week I blogged about justice, mercy, and grace. Justice is getting the penalty we deserve, mercy is not getting the penalty we deserve, and grace is getting blessings we don’t deserve.

If we are truly grace-full people, then we should be thank-full people as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, people are naturally thinking about things for which they can give thanks during this past year. But Christians should be the most full-of-thanks people on the planet, because we have been showered with so much grace! 

I’d like us to think about a word that I believe will increase our level of thankfulness: Appreciation. Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them. In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!

Check out three parts to the definition of appreciation

[1] Gratitude; thankful recognition. Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? Research has shown that increasing your gratitude levels increases your:

  • Physical health. “A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time” —Jon Gordon
  • Emotional health. Dr. Robert Emmons says gratitude decreases envy, resentment, and feelings of retaliation; and increases empathy, emotional resilience, and self-esteem.
  • Spiritual health. Notice how ingratitude is included in the list of a whole lot of ugliness (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but spiritual health is restored simply by being thankful (Ephesians 5:3-4).

[2] Estimating qualities and giving them their proper value. In order to determine value, we must have a standard of comparison. What’s your standard? Is it what your neighbor has? Is it what you don’t have? Or is it thankfulness for what God has given you? 

Max Lucado said, “To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.”

[3] Assessing the true worth of our blessings. Assessing leads to appreciation, and appreciation begins to give us a return on investment. I like how Jeff Anderson says it: “If you want to grow your faith, grow your gratitude. To grow your gratitude, take time to count your blessings.”

Remember: gratitude isn’t gratitude if it isn’t expressed. David made his gratitude known, and other afflicted people around him began to join with him in thanking God for His blessings (see Psalm 34:1-3). In other words, David’s thanksgiving went viral!

mowtHere’s how we can make our gratitude go viral: #MOWT. Let’s count our blessings every day, and let’s appreciate what God has done for us. Then let’s share our gratitude not only with God, but with others as well. Post it on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #MOWT: my one word thanks. Maybe include a photo and “family” #MOWT, or “protection” #MOWT, or even “paycheck” #MOWT.

Let’s give God so much glory for His grace gifts, that we tell the world about our appreciation!

12 More Quotes From “Chase The Lion”

chase-the-lionI loved Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson! If this book doesn’t inspire you to do great things for God, I’m not sure what will. Be sure to check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy some more quotes from this amazing book.

“You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.”

“An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny! Killing Goliath was an epic act of bravery. Not killing Saul was an epic act of integrity.”

“One of the most important decisions you make every single day is what time you set your alarm to go off.”

“God doesn’t promise us happily ever after. He promises so much more than that—happily forever after.”

“In God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying. … In God’s book success is spelled stewardship. It’s making the most of the time, talent, and treasure God has given you. It’s doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.”

“Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey.”

“Fighters don’t walk away when the going gets tough; they fight to the finish for their convictions. Fighters don’t give up when everyone is against them; they fight against the status quo. And fighters don’t shrink back when the odds are against them; they fight for what they believe in.”

“It’s okay to talk to God about your problems, but at some point you have to flip the script. You need to talk to your problems about God.”

“Valor is less an action and more a reaction. If you judge a person by his or her actions, you’re judging a book by its cover. Reactions are far more revealing than actions. How you react in difficult circumstances is the litmus test of character. And you never really know how you’ll react until you’re the one who crosses paths with a lion. Valor is running toward trouble when everyone else is running away. Valor is going above and beyond the call of duty. Valor is putting yourself in the line of fire for someone else.”

“You know why some of us have never killed the giant, chased the lion, or walked on water? We’re afraid of looking foolish. But it’s the fear of looking foolish that is foolish!”

“Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us. … Instead of expending all your energy trying to get out of them, get something out of them.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry to begin the next chapter of your life that you fail to ace the lessons the current chapter is trying to teach you.”

You can check out the first set of quotes I shared from Chase The Lion by clicking here. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter, where I daily share quotes from all sorts of inspirational authors.

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