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WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Use your words to build people up.  Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When I was in college the janitorial company I worked for was hired to tear down a wall in an apartment and then clean it up.  I had never done anything like that before.  I didn’t know how to start so I asked supervisor for instructions.  He said, take this sledge hammer and hit this wall until there is nothing left to hit.  I had more fun that day that is lawful in the state of Mississippi!  It’s fun to tear things down. 

Sometimes with our words it’s like a sledgehammer, no planning, no thinking.  We swing away and all of a sudden we look around and all we’ve got is a pile of rubble, relational rubble.  When you just swing away with your words and tear people down inevitably your relationships are going to suffer.  Words are the single most important tool given to man by God.  Without a doubt! 

One of the reasons we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is, our mouth.  We say things without thinking.  People remember them.  The things people have said to you in a thoughtless way it may have been as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working.  You still remember some of those things.  That’s how powerful words are.  So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here are directions for the use of a power tool I bought several years ago. I was struck by how it related to the use of another power tool that God has given us – our mouth. 

  • Know your power tool.
  • Keep guards in place.
  • Be careful around children.
  • Store idle tools when not in use.
  • Don’t over reach
  • Never use in an explosive atmosphere.

It fits how we are to use this mouth which is an incredible tool to build people up.

How can I start using it more carefully so instead of destroying with it, I’m building and constructing relationships with it? 

1.  Stop excusing.  Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that.”  or “It’s just that blood sugar dip before lunch.  That’s all it was.”  Stop excusing and realize that what you say is impacting everybody around you.         

2.  Talk less.  If it’s a power tool – you don’t have to use it as much.  Talk less.  One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes.  We talk before we think.  We need to talk less and…

 3.  Listen more.  If I listen more I can understand people’s needs.  One of the small lessons of life that makes an incredible impact on the way you and I use our words. 

 4.  Start building.  Think first of all, “what do they need?”  How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up?  How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in their life?  How can I use my words to build the people that I love the most?

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It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you are in.  If you are a parent and you want to know how to better connect with your children.  If you are engaged or married and you want to know how to better relate to that other person, you can use these principles.  If you are a teacher or an employer or employee, no matter who you are, if you need to get close to anybody in life, you need these principles.

I want to give you three tips that you can use to build better relationships.

1.        LIVE BY THE GOLDEN RULE.

In other words, if you want to connect with people, you’ve got to start with their needs not your own.  The Bible says in Philippians 2:4 “Look out for one another’s interests not just your own.”  Your default mode is to think about your needs, your desires, your goals, your ambitions, what you want in life.  As a result we have many, many millions of people disconnected because everybody is self-centered and not being considerate other people’s needs. 

Let me share with you two very basic truths about life.  First, you are not the center of the universe.  I know that’s shocking, but the world does not revolve around you.  You’re very special in God’s eyes.  You were created for a purpose… but the world does not revolve around you.  Don’t be expecting the whole world to come saying, “How can we meet your needs?”  

The second basic truth of life is God has promised that when you focus on meeting the needs of other people, He guarantees He will meet yours.  This is one of the most basic principles in the Bible.  Why?  Because He wants me to learn to be unselfish and generous like Him.  Colossians 3:13 says this, “You must make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember God forgave you so you must forgive others.” 

A woman wrote to Dear Abby, “I’m 44 years old.  I’d like to find a man my age with no bad habits.”  Abby wrote back, “So would I.”  My wife got the only man like that (Just kidding, of course!). There are no people with no bad habits, no faults.  We have to make allowance for each other’s faults.

When you are trying to make a connection with a person, you’re trying to be considerate of their needs; I’m not saying that you don’t see their faults.  You just choose to overlook them. 

Tip #1: Treat your friends the way you would like to be treated.


Strategy

There are several strategic moves when playing relational “Hide and Seek” that will help covertly hide your negative feelings. As you read through this list, you might want to check off the ones that are characteristic of the way you do relationships.

1. Deny your feelings of anger and frustration.

With this move, you just don’t let on when you are hurt. You say something like, “It’s ok” when it isn’t … or “it doesn’t matter” when it does … or “it’s not that big of a deal” when it really is. You turn the anger and frustration inward instead of expressing it at the person who deserves it.

2. Tell yourself, “In time things will work out on their own.”

Don’t take any action to resolve the conflict on your own because, who knows, it might only make things worse.

3. Have a lot of imaginary conversations.

Instead of going to the person and having it out for real, just do it in your head. You say what you really want to say, and then you mentally have them respond how you think they should. But whenever you see them for real, just keep smiling like everything is fine.

4. Expect others to read your mind.

Drop little hints and clues that might suggest that you are not happy and hope that others will somehow figure it out. Don’t sit down with them and come right out and say what is on your mind. That could be too risky.

5. Gossip instead of confronting.

All of that pent up anger and emotion has to go somewhere and since we’re too afraid or too lazy to take it to the person directly, other people are the natural outlet. And if we’re “religious” it’s really easy to do this by saying, “I have a prayer request about a problem I’m having with so-and-so. Let me tell you the situation so you’ll be able to pray more intelligently …”

By the way, there is a time when it is appropriate to say something like that but only under certain circumstances.

Those are some of the strategic moves in relational Hide and Seek. But how do you “win”?

– you meet your need for approval through deception.

You act like everything is OK, you don’t rock the boat, and you avoid the hard issues because you want everyone to be happy with you.

Well, that’s the game and it can get ugly.  But there is hope for those of us who struggle with this relational pattern. There is hope for those of us who lie in bed at night and realize that most of our relational stress comes because we pretend in order to meet our need for approval.

There is hope for those of us who want to end the game, but first, we must admit the truth about ourselves, that we are masters of it and then turn from it. We must ask God to give us courage to say what needs to be said and we must lessen the value we place on what people think of us. Only when we do that, are there some things we can start to do differently in our interactions with those around us.

Tomorrow I will wrap this up with a few strategy moves to end this pattern that is in reality, no game at all.  We are talking about real people with real lives.  Many time these are some of the closest relationships in our lives.

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Christian Temperament Counseling utilizes Temperament Analysis (also known as Creation Therapy), which is based on the belief that each person is endowed by God with a unique temperament while still in their mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Temperament is not the same thing as character or personality. Character results from learned behavior, and personality is the “mask” we choose to wear before the world. Temperament underlies all that we are, in a spiritual sense. It is a sort of “spiritual DNA.” Our inborn temperament directs the way we perceive ourselves, people, and situations. It is who we are in our innermost created being. When the needs of our temperament are not met, we experience emotional stress and pain–within ourselves or between us and other people.

Why Explore Temperament?

Temperament Counseling is for the good times as well as the tough times of life. Exploring temperament increases your awareness of your basic and unique needs while helping you understand how to meet those needs in godly ways. It can bring insight and healing into relationships.

As you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, and passions you can see the possibilities for how God can use you to bless others.

 How Do You Get Started?

The process begins when you fill out an A.P.S. profile form. This time-tested assessment tool, for adults, teens and children, takes only a short time to complete. Your responses create a unique personal profile that helps you learn about your temperament in three foundational areas:

INCLUSION

Social orientation and thinking processes

INCLUSION answers questions like:

Who gets included in my life? To what extent? Does being with others rejuvenate or deplete me? How comfortable am I socializing? Do I belong? How much energy do I put into thinking things through? Am I creative? Impulsive? Do I analyze every detail? Am I more relationship, task, or goal oriented?

The need that a person is attempting to meet in the area of INCLUSION is the perception of feeling significant or worthwhile.

CONTROL

Capacity to make decisions and accept responsibility

CONTROL answers questions like:

Who establishes and holds the power in my relationships? How much do I naturally want to influence others? How much do I want (or will I allow) others to control me? How willing am I to make decisions and accept responsibility for myself and/or others? Am I a leader, follower, influencer, rebel, servant?

The need that a person is attempting to meet in the area of CONTROL is the perception of feeling competent and capable.

AFFECTION

Emotional interaction in relationships

AFFECTION answers questions like:

How many people do I want to feel very close to? How willing am I to be unguarded in my emotions with another person? To become close to someone, am I able to confide my innermost desires, anxieties and feelings? How easily am I able to give and receive physical expressions of love, warmth, and approval in my deep relationships?

The need that a person is attempting to meet in the area of AFFECTION is the perception of feeling that one’s self is lovable.

For instructions on ordering a personalized A.P.S. analysis for yourself, a family member, staff members, or employees click here A.P.S. and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page.

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Rethinking Your Job

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized, Work
Tags: ,

Chances are you have used or at the very least heard someone use the phrase, “Thank God it’s Friday.”  In most cases the understood meaning behind this statement is, “Thank God it’s not Monday – Thursday.” On Friday, you are just one day away from the weekend when you are free from the prison you call your job!

82% of the people in a recently survey said they hated their job.  That’s unbelievable!  Another study done by the Princeton Research and Marketing Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey said that between fifty and eighty percent of all Americans are in the wrong career because it doesn’t match their gifts and abilities.

A major problem with this is that job frustration affects every other area of life. When you don’t like your work, it takes a toll on your family life.  It makes it very tempting to come home and snap at your family.

It is my opinion that God never intended it to be this way.  Ecclesiastes 5:18 “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor.”  The Bible says it is good and proper to find satisfaction in your job. 

Let me just cut to the chase.  Is it possible to come to the end of the day and wonder where all the time went? Is it really possible to find “satisfaction” in your job?  Well, here’s a biblical plan to work on.

1. Reframe your thinking about who you really work for.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord not for men.”  Circle “working for the Lord not for men.”  He’s saying that no matter where you work or what you do you can do it for the Lord.  Don’t think that the Lord’s work is only done on church property.  You can flip burgers for the Lord.  You can wash cars for the Lord.  Whatever you do it says don’t do it as if you’re doing it for your human boss, do it as if you’re doing it for the Lord. 

2. Re-pattern your work model.

You work with the same attitude as Jesus did.  Mark 10:45 “The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve.”  Jesus had a servant’s attitude. A servant attitude is becoming excited about making your boss successful.  It is about getting excited about making the people around you successful. 

You work like Jesus and you work for the God.  If you do those two things you can expect the third thing.

3.  Expect a reward from God.

A person working for the Lord and working like the Lord, no matter what he or she does, can expect to be rewarded by the Lord.  It is very frustrating to feel like your boss never notices. That’s not the issue.  The issue is does God notice and he’s taking notes.  Colossians 3:24 “Remember that the Lord will reward you [circle that] for Christ is the real master you serve.”

So as a Christian with the right attitude, I gain not only a paycheck but I gain eternal rewards.  I get paid twice in my work.  I get rewards physically — my paycheck.  But I also get the eternal nest egg, the ultimate pension plan, and treasure in heaven.

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Jeremiah 20:7-12

This topic is a matter that none of us are immune to – depression. I’m not sure if this is 100% accurate but I have always thought of the mulligrubs as the way a person expresses depression or simply the “blues” to those he or she comes in contact with.

According to the most comprehensive U.S. mental health survey, almost half of all Americans experience mental illness at some time in their lives, and almost a third are afflicted in any one year. (Survey: who do you know in this room who might be experiencing mental illness right now?)

The study also found that the most common disorder was the major depressive episode – the exhibition of at least two weeks of symptoms such as low mood and loss of pleasure.

All of us either have struggled or will struggle with depressive episodes or The Mulligrubs. This is because of all the bad things that happen in our world; there are so many problems, so many difficulties, and our world is so complex that almost all of us are touched by sin, hurt, violence, rejection, and other things that are beyond our control. The next time you buy gas listen to your fellow customers.

Often we find ourselves in situations where we try to do the right thing, yet we always seem to end up with the short end of the stick. Jeremiah was someone like this, a man who had a very clear sense of purpose, but couldn’t seem to catch a break. It caused him to be depressed.

Today we’re going to discuss three ways to escape the mulligrubs—but first let’s look at the . . .

Three Causes Of The Mulligrubs

Frustration The first cause of Jeremiah’s depression was frustration because he felt that God had deceived him. God gave him something to say, and he assumed that if he followed God’s will, the outcome would be positive. It is very common to be right in the center of God’s will and be surrounded by trouble.  Now, a little bit of frustration is part of life, but when we continually beat our heads against the wall, it eventually starts to hurt. This is frustrating, and frustration can develop and lead to depression.

Hurt – Later, Jeremiah says, “I am ridiculed all day long, everyone mocks me.” When we are rejected by the people who are important to us, it can hurt so deeply that it can lead to depression which gets expressed as, you guessed it: MULLIGRUBS.

Fear – We see in verse 10 that Jeremiah’s heart was gripped with fear because he was surrounded by people waiting for him to make a mistake; even his friends were waiting to rejoice in his failures.

In that mode of fear, our minds can play tricks and begin to create anxieties and fears that don’t exist – this kind of fear can bring on depressive feelings. We wonder why we are so lethargic, have no energy, and have lost interest in things we previously enjoyed. That kind of depression makes it difficult to feel motivated to do anything at all.

These causes of depression finally led Jeremiah to ask God, “Why did you even let me be born?”

I want to share an important truth with you: Life is difficult. There are not always answers to our problems, and we can’t fix everything. When life is bad, we feel down, grieve our losses, and experience the gloom of depression.

You may think that Christians are not supposed to be depressed, but you are wrong – depression and grief are normal human reactions. Christians should not remain depressed, but they can certainly be depressed. Jeremiah responded to his depression with the words: “I would rather not have lived if I have to live this way.”

Still today, some people respond to depression with suicidal thoughts. Others respond with a spending spree, or an eating binge, or getting drunk or high on drugs. Of course, after the binge or the spree is over, the depression is deepened because there are now consequences which must be dealt with. Responding to depression these ways never help, but only make things worse.

There are many separate issues involved in depression, but the reality is this: If we respond to depressive feelings in a negative way, we create an environment which only causes more depression. The question, then, is how do we defeat depression? How do we escape the MULLIGRUBS?

1. Examine your  Season Of Life

The first thing Jeremiah did to help him deal with depression was determine what season he was in. God has seasons of life for us as people just like there are seasons in nature.

There is Winter, when it seems there is no growth and everything is barren; there is Spring, a season of planting; there is Summer, a season of great activity; and there is Fall when we are able to bring in a harvest.

I wish we could all live in harvest season all the time, but we can’t always live in a time of harvest, because in order to harvest we must first plant. And we must remember that without Winter, there won’t be a good harvest the following year. It is natural to have depressive feelings when we experience loss. If we lose a loved one, a job, anything precious to us, we should feel grief.  Where would B.B. King be without the blues!

God told Jeremiah that, “Before you were ever born, I picked you to be a spokesman for me.” That’s a pretty impressive way to begin your life! Jeremiah prophesied for God, but his words didn’t come true and everyone ridiculed and laughed at him.

He prophesied this way for years, until finally his Fall came and things began to happen. Everything he had prophesied came true, so he was able to realize that things had been working out the way they were supposed to all along, but he had to pass through the seasons first.

We need to develop discernment so we can see where we are in our lives. We can’t always be in harvest time, but the good news is that Winter does not last forever – Spring follows with new life, new opportunities, and new hopes. Then Summer….Then Fall.

2. Understand God Is Always At Work

In order to make it through the mulligrubs, we also must understand that God is at work even when He seems silent. Even when God does not seem to be doing anything, He is examining, probing, or looking around our world; He cares even when we accuse Him of neglect.

We can even express our feelings to God – it won’t bother Him or hurt His feelings if we tell Him how lousy our lives are and why we think it is all His fault. In fact, the best thing we can do is pour our hearts out to God, just as the best thing to do for a depressed person is allow them to unpack their feelings.

We also see in the Scripture that Jeremiah challenged God’s character, saying, “O Lord you deceived me.” But he also realized that in the end God will bring justice, even if it is not on our timeline.

We need everything NOW, but God does not work that way. We may think God is silent, but then all of a sudden we realize that He has been working in us, changing us, all along.

Our perspective on a situation has changed, or we have grown a little more, proving that God has been at work.

3. Learn to Praise God Anyway

The third way to escape the mulligrubs is to praise God in spite of our situation and circumstances. What can we praise Him for in the midst of our rejections and frustrations?

We can always praise Him because we have hope in God’s faithfulness. As this is His very nature, it is impossible for Him to be unfaithful. I wrote a song a couple of years ago on this topic:

He will be there for you in the storms of life,
He will hold your hand, He will dry your eyes;
When this world holds out no hope for you,
He will be there, He will carry you through.
And whatever the pain you feel inside,
He’s been there, done that, made it out alive,
Jesus will be there, He will be there.
(© 2008 AsALarke Music Publishing, BMI)

Many years ago there was a lawyer in the Midwest who fell into such a terrible depression that his friends came into his home and removed all the knives and razors because they feared he might try to kill himself. In the midst of this depression he wrote, “I am the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell.” God helped him through his difficult time and this man went on to become one of the greatest presidents our country has ever known: Abraham Lincoln.

The next time you are tempted to get the mulligrubs do yourself (and us) a favor.  Read Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Practice this three-point plan.

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Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a youth pastor.  I have very fond memories of those day for the most part.  Some of those memories make me want to scratch my head and wonder how I survived to write about it!

One memory that came back to me this week while I was thinking about the topic of forgiveness was a retreat to a state park in north Mississippi.  It was a great week of community building with our small but growing youth group.  We had incredible worship music (led by your humble blogger) and great Bible teaching (led by my friend, Ronnie Estes).

Everything was going great until the afternoon swim time at the lake about the second day in.  We were playing a very competitive game of water volleyball when after a very athletic jump up and spike I came down and immediately thought a shark had bitten my leg off.  In reality I had landed on a rusty nail that went through my big toe and was protruding just south of my toenail.

Without thinking (which is how I often operate in crisis mode) I grabbed the head of that evil intruder and pulled it from my toe.  And you may be thinking, what the heck does that have to do with forgiveness?  Thank you for your concern and I am getting to that right now.

When we refuse to forgive, we are allowing a painful foreign object to continue to cause us pain.  Now, pulling that nail out of my toe was not a walk in the park but my first thought was not to hold a grudge against the state of Mississippi for allowing that nail to take up residence at the bottom of the lake.  My first thought was not to get even but to get relief.  Often we are hurting and we feel like if we forgive we are letting the offender off easy.  No, we are letting ourselves off.  Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves!

If I had left that nail in my toe just so I could prove to people that I had a reason to be hurting, before long I would have been dealing with infection.  Holding on to hurt by refusing to forgive will lead to the infection of bitterness.  And bitterness creeps into our character very quickly.

Let me encourage you to pull out that nail of hurt.  You say, “You don’t know what they did to me” and you are right but I do know what our sins did to Jesus on the cross… could it be worse than that?  If you need help, find someone to guide you through the process.  I would be happy to help.  You can contact me through my web site www.ready4lifecounseling.com.  Go to my contact page for phone or email contact information.

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