Archive for May, 2008

What God Is Up To

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Jesus says that as our Good Shepherd, he is leading us.  What an encouraging thought.  Jesus is leading you, and he is leading me.  He is shepherding us.  I can feel something in my heart loosening even now as I consider this.  Okay, I don’t have to make life happen on my own.  Now, if Christ takes it upon himself to lead, then our part is to follow.  And you’ll find that it helps a great deal in your following if you know what God is up to. . . .

Whatever else is going on, we can know this:  God is always up to our transformation. . . .

God has something in mind.  He is deeply and personally committed to restoring humanity.  Restoring you.  He had a specific man or woman in mind when he made you.  By bringing you back to himself through the work of Jesus Christ, he has established relationship with you.  And now, what he is up to is restoring you. . . .

Oh, the joy, the utter relief it would be to be transformed.  That in itself would be more happiness than most of us ever experience.  And — as if that were not enough — it would free us to live the life God has for us to live.

My friends, this is what God’s up to.  This is where our Shepherd is headed.  Whatever else is going on in our lives, this is going on.  He is committed to our transformation.  So, if this is what God’s up to, wouldn’t it make sense that we be more intentional in partnering with him in our transformation?

— John Eldredge, Walking with God, p. 19-21

All About Life

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Life.  Life.  Life.  It is all about life; imperishable, unceasing zoë.

But we must seek this life out, pursue it, turn into it because there is also a principle of death within us, stemming from the fall.  Therefore, we must be constantly saying “yes” to life and “no” to death.  We must always be discerning life-giving actions and attitudes from those that are death-giving.  This is why the Bible is such a help to us; it is regularly fleshing these things out in the rough-and-tumble of real-life situations.  Scripture makes clear to us precisely how this “with God” life works in all the circumstances of human existence, both for individuals and for groups, both in specific historical periods and throughout all times.

— Richard J. Foster, Life with God, p. x

Opinion

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Not for a moment would I endeavor by argument to convince another of this, my opinion.  If it be true, it is God’s work to show it, for logic cannot. . . .

Friends, I have not said we are not to speak our opinions.  I have only said we are not to make those opinions the point of a fresh start, the foundation of a new building, the groundwork of anything.  Opinions are not to occupy us in our dealings with our brethren.

Opinion is often the very death of love.  Love aright, and you will come to think aright.  And those who think aright must think the same.

In the meantime, it matters nothing.  The thing that does matter is, that whereto we have attained, by that we should walk.  But, while we are not to insist upon our opinions, which is the only one way of insisting upon ourselves — however we may cloak the fact from ourselves in the vain imagination of thereby spreading the truth — we are bound by the loftiest duty to spread the truth.  For that is the saving of men. . . .

I do insist upon a better and the only indispensable way of spreading truth — let your light shine.

— George MacDonald, Your Life in Christ, p. 208-209

Counting to Ten

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

When your teenagers were kids, some relative or perhaps even your child’s pediatrician passed on to you the age-old wisdom of counting to ten before saying no to your children.  This practice leaves your kids feeling listened to and gives you some reflection time to consider whether no is indeed what you want to say. . . .  When your child reaches adolescence, this practice of counting to ten before saying no needs an upgrade.

Now instead of counting to ten before saying no, you need to count to ten before saying anything!  That is, when whatever they are saying activates your anxiety, that’s when you need to stay quiet and expectant for ten seconds, which gets you a passing grade on the test your teenager is putting you through.  Will you listen even when the stakes go up and make you nervous?  Your counting to ten slowly and staying silent gives her the time to realize that you are respecting her independence (you aren’t brushing her aside), that it is a tough situation (you don’t have an easy answer), that you believe in her (the expectant look on your face and in your demeanor), that you won’t try to control her (you’re not lecturing her), and that you won’t abandon her (you’re still there).  In other words, lots happens in those ten seconds of quiet.

— Michael Riera, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 108-109

A Conversational Walk with God

Monday, May 19th, 2008

An intimate, conversational walk with God is available.  Is normal, even.  Or, at least, is meant to be normal.  I’m well aware that a majority of people do not enjoy that . . . yet.  But it is certainly what God desires and what he offers.  My assumption is based on the nature of God and the nature of man made in his image.  We are communicators.  My assumption is also based on the nature of relationship — it requires communication.  It is based on the long record of God speaking to his people of various ranks in all sorts of situations.  And finally, it is based on the teachings of Jesus, who tells us that we hear his voice.

— John Eldredge, Walking with God, p. 17-18

More Is on the Way

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Surrender to the pain.  Then learn to surrender to the good.  It’s there and more is on the way.  Love God.  Love Family.  Love what you do.  Love people, and learn to let them love you.  And always keep on loving yourself.

No matter how good it gets, the best is yet to come.

— Melody Beattie, Beyond Codependency:  And Getting Better All the Time, p. 245

Our Purpose

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Intimacy with God is the purpose of our lives.  It’s why God created us.  Not simply to believe in him, though that is a good beginning.  Not only to obey him, though that is a higher life still.  God created us for intimate fellowship with himself, and in doing so he established the goal of our existence — to know him, love him, and live our lives in an intimate relationship with him.  Jesus says that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3).  Not just “know about” like you know about the ozone layer or Ulysses S. Grant.  He means know as two people know each other, know as Jesus knows the Father — intimately.

— John Eldredge, Walking with God, p. 12

Healing Tears

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

There was no point in telling somebody not to cry, she had always thought; indeed there were times when you should do exactly the opposite, when you should urge people to cry, to start the healing that sometimes only tears can bring.

— Alexander McCall Smith, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, p. 211

Truth and Connection

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

When your partner is making changes that you don’t know how to handle, don’t fall into the lie of “It’s okay.  It doesn’t bother me.”  Quick dismissals push the other person away and leave her guessing what your true feelings are.  It’s better to express the truth:  “I’m feeling threatened” or “I’m confused.”  Being truthful maintains the connection.

Recognize that listening to your partner is not the same as surrendering to his opinion.  Giving in to your partner may get you through a rocky moment, but it is not necessarily what your partner wants.  Acknowledging his heartfelt feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  The challenge is to reveal without capitulating or rebelling. . . .

The need to assert differences brings many couples to the brink, but once a couple can discuss what’s underneath those differences — what fuels different aspects of themselves — they learn profound truths about their partner.  They discover the extent of the other person’s convictions, the strengths of their commitments, and the impact their own behavior has on them.  Not only is it then possible to get through the immediate challenge, but they are able to understand each other in a deeper, more intimate way, which leaves them poised for still greater depths of understanding.

— Ellyn Bader, PhD, and Peter T. Pearson, PhD, Tell Me No Lies:  How to Stop Lying to Your Partner — and Yourself — in the 4 Stages of Marriage, p. 123-124

Influence

Friday, May 16th, 2008

You cannot change others.  More people suffer from trying to change others than from any other sickness.  And it is impossible.

What you can do is influence others.  But there is a trick.  Since you cannot get them to change, you must change yourself so that their destructive patterns no longer work on you.  Change your way of dealing with them; they may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work.

Another dynamic that happens when you let go of others is that you begin to get healthy, and they may notice and envy your health.  They may want some of what you have.

One more thing.  You need the wisdom to know what is you and what is not you.  Pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what you have the power to change and what you do not.

— Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries, p. 89