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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Thursdays With Oswald—Popular Christianity?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Popular Christianity? 

     Take the popular idea of Christianity and compare it with the patience of the saints, and you will see where we are. Popular Christianity says, “We must succeed.” … We are determined to be successful, but the Apostle Paul says we are called upon to be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). …  

     The way worldly sagacity argues is—Pay men back in their own coin, if you have been deceived, deceive in order to get your rights—“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” You cannot do that if you are a saint. We must practice the expressed love of God and behave among the unseemly as the children of God. There is no test on earth to equal it. There is unseemly laughter at the saint—“Where is your success? what have you done? what is the good of missionary enterprise?” … 

     We do not need Jesus Christ and the Bible for the ordinary common-sense standpoint, and if in a crisis we act according to common sense we do not express the love of God. … 

     The test for the saint is not common sense, but “Is this is what Jesus Christ stood for?” 

From The Saints In A Disaster Of Worldliness

Standing true to Jesus Christ and the Bible is never popular.

So the question is—Do I want praise from men, or “Well done” from my Savior?

10 More Quotes From “Shade Of His Hand”

In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers is giving us his insight on the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. I typically share longer passages from Oswald Chambers’ works in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts. Here are a few shorter quotes from this book.

“In personal life, in church life and in national life, we try Jesus Christ’s teaching, but as soon as it becomes difficult we abandon it, or else we compromise.”

“Jesus Christ says, ‘Come unto Me… and I will give you rest,’ i.e., I will put you in the place where your eyes are open. And notice what Jesus Christ says we will look at—lilies and sparrows and grass. … The salvation of Jesus Christ enables a man to see for the first time in his life, and it is a wonderful thing.”

“The essential element in moral life is obedience and submission. If you want spiritual truth, obey the highest standard you know. ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God or whether I speak from Myself’ (John 7:17). Intellectually, curiosity is the thing; morally, obedience is what is needed.”

“Whenever our spiritual life is unsatisfactory it is because we have said to God—‘I won’t.’ … If Jesus Christ has done no mighty works for me it is either because I don’t believe He can, or I don’t want Him to. … Get to the place where you make the thing inevitable, burn your bridges behind you, make retreat impossible, then go ahead. Solomon’s counsel is wise—‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ It is leaning to our own understanding that keeps the bridges behind.”

“When you are joyful, be joyful; when you are sad, be sad. If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come. … Suffering, and the inevitable result of suffering, is the only way some of us can learn, and if we are shielded God will ultimately take the one who interferes by the scruff of the neck and remove him.”

“For a man to have doubts is not a sign that he is a bad man.”

“If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.” 

“We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”

“It is only when a man is born from above of the Spirit of God that he finds the ‘want to’ is altered.”

“If you are the servant of men for their sake you will soon be heartbroken; but if you serve men for the sake of Jesus Christ, nothing can ever discourage you (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:5).”

To read more quotes from this book, click here. To check out my review of Shade Of His Hand, click here.

11 Quotes From “Shade Of His Hand”

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible can be a challenging read for many people. In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers walks us through this biblical book of wisdom chapter-by-chapter. Shade is a great companion for your personal Bible study time in Ecclesiastes. Check out my full book review by clicking here.

Below are just a few of the many (many!) passages I highlighted in Shade. Some of the longer passages I have already shared in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts. You can read those by clicking here.

“We always get out of touch with the Bible attitude to things when we come to it with our own conclusions.”

“The intellectual order of life does not take things as it finds them, it makes us shut our eyes to actual facts and try to live only in the ideal world. … Solomon is fearless in facing facts as they are. … It is not a question of living a blind life in the brain away from actuality, not of living in dawns or on mountain tops; but of bringing what you see there straight down to the valley where things are sordid, and living out the vision there.”

“Unless you bank your faith in God, you will not only be wrongly related in practical life and have your heart broken, but you will break other things you touch.”

“Almighty God does not matter to me, He is in the clouds. To be of any use to me, He must come down to the domain in which I live; and I do not live in the clouds but on the earth. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God did come down into our domain. The Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the exact expression of God, was manifest in the flesh.”

“To serve God in order to gain heaven, is not the teaching of Christianity. Satisfaction cannot be found in gain, but only in a personal relationship to God. … A man is not to serve God for the sake of gain, but to get to the place where the whole of his life is seen as a personal relationship to God.”

“Whenever we put theology or a plan of salvation or any line of explanation before a man’s personal relationship to God, we depart from the Bible line, because religion in the Bible is not faith in the rule of God, but faith in the God Who rules.”

“Sometimes it is cowardly to speak, and sometimes it is cowardly to keep silence. In the Bible the great test of a man’s character is his tongue (see James 1:26). The tongue only came to its right place with in the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, because He never spoke from His right to Himself. He Who was the Wisdom of God Incarnate, said ‘the words that I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself.’ … We are either too hasty or too slow; either we won’t speak at all, or we speak too much, or we speak in the wrong mood. The thing that makes us speak is the lust to vindicate ourselves.”

“The general history of Christianity is that it has been tried and abandoned because it is found to be difficult; but wherever it has been tried and honorably gone on with, it has never failed.”

“The Christian faith is exhibited by the man who has the spiritual courage to say that that is the God he trusts in, and it takes some moral backbone to do it.” 

“We reap terrific damage to our own characters when we vow and do not perform. … Promises are a way of shirking responsibility.”

“It is appalling to find spiritual people when they come into a crisis taking an ordinary common-sense standpoint as if Jesus Christ had never lived or died.”

More quotes from Shade Of His Hand are coming soon…

Shade Of His Hand (book review)

Most of Oswald Chambers’ books weren’t originally in book form, but were given as lectures or sermons which were recorded in shorthand by his wife. Shade Of His Hand contains the last messages given by Oswald Chambers before his death. It’s a series of lectures on each chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes.

For many people (even seasoned Christians) the message in Ecclesiastes in a challenging one. Solomon is the wisest man who ever lived, yet in this book of the Bible he records his observations of the world in what seems to be a very “non-Christian” (to use a New Testament term) sort of way. Then along comes Oswald Chambers with insight into this book unlike anything you’ve seen before!

One of Chambers’ longtime friends was David Lambert. Commenting on Shade Of His Hand, Lambert wrote, “Oswald Chambers interprets [Ecclesiastes’] message as being—Life is not worth living apart from Redemption. … Life apart from Redeeming Love is full of sin and sorrow, guile and cruelty, callous selfishness and numbing despair. This book takes full account of all that. It anticipates many of the problems facing the young life of today, and brings to their solution the one and only key, the realization of the Lord Jesus Christ in every relationship of life.”

Indeed, Chambers doesn’t flinch one bit in addressing the complex issues Solomon brings up, and he does so in a way that is easy to grasp for all of us. I read each chapter of Ecclesiastes before each chapter in this book, and then I re-read the same chapter in Ecclesiastes again afterwards. Wow, what a transformation in my understanding of the biblical text!

If you would like to gain some life-changing insight on this valuable book of biblical wisdom, I urge you to check out Shade Of His Hand.

How To Grow Your Wisdom

wisdom-brings-harmonyDr. Luke is a great “noticer.” Twice he notices and records something about the early life of Jesus that gives us great insight for growing in a wholly healthy way.

First of all, Luke tells us how Jesus grows (check out my thoughts on this by clicking here), and then he begins to zero-in on the four areas in which Jesus grew. The first thing Dr. Luke notes is Christ growing in wisdom (see Luke 2:40 & 52).

Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. In fact, lots of people have knowledge without ever having wisdom. But we have to remember that you cannot get wisdom without getting knowledge.

The Greek language as a couple of different words for knowledge:

  • ginosko = head knowledge; information; belief that something is true
  • oida = experiential knowledge; belief in the knowledge you have

Let me give you a quick example. One time my facilities team was overseeing the reinstallation of our zip line from our 30-foot-high ropes course. This zip line stretched some 500 feet from the platform on top of the ropes course all the way down a big hill. After the zip line was replaced, our facilities guys believed that they had successfully connected the zip line. But only Phil believed in their work enough to put on a harness, connect to the zip line, and jump off the platform!

In order to grow in wisdom, we have to have good information (ginosko) to work with. Then we have to test this knowledge in our personal lives (oida). Only this will help us develop wisdom that can be applied to our every-day lives.

Otherwise, Oswald Chambers notes this: “We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”

Often times the Holy Spirit will use the Bible, or a sermon, or the advice from a friend, or even a “slip of the tongue” to alert us to thoughts that aren’t healthy. Jesus tells us that the so-called “slip of the tongue” is actually a tip off to what’s really in our hearts (see Matthew 12:34). Solomon counsels us to guard our hearts and minds (Proverbs 4:23), and then Paul builds on the guarding theme to tell us to capture our thoughts and make sure they line-up with God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).

This is what develops God-pleasing wisdom. If we don’t constantly grow in this area, we will hold back growth in every other area of our life—physical health, spiritual health, and emotional health, but growing in wisdom brings harmony to all of these areas.

So ask yourself:

  • Am I getting good information?
  • Am I capturing my thoughts to make sure they are healthy?
  • Am I applying what I am learning?

God wants to grow wisdom in you! May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 13:21).

Thursdays With Oswald—Do You Think Life Is A Drudgery?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Do You Think Life Is A Drudgery? 

     God made man a mixture of dust and Deity—“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The dust of a man’s body is his glory, not his shame. … 

     Drudgery is the outcome of sin, but it has no right to be the rule of life. It becomes the rule of life because we ignore the fact that the dust of the earth belongs to God, and that man’s chief end is to glorify God. Unless we can maintain the presence of Divinity in our dust, life becomes a miserable drudgery. If a man lives in order to hoard up the means of living, he does not live at all, he has no time to, he is taken up with one form of drudgery or another to keep things going. …  

     The wisdom of today concerns itself chiefly with the origin of things and not with God, consequently neither the philosopher nor the mystic has time for actual life.

From Shade Of His Hand

God created us to enjoy life as we enjoy Him, enjoy His creation, and enjoy doing what He has created us to do.

If you find life toilsome, burdensome or a downright drudgery, can I suggest one simple question: How is your relationship with God?

If you truly ask Him, God will show you how to live a life filled with JOY!

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