The Art of Confrontation

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend ~ Proverbs 27:6

Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!

Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and frail humans who say and do stupid, hurtful things. But we work hard at our marriage and let me tell you one thing – a good marriage requires hard work. We are committed to each other and to making the rest of our marriage the best part of our marriage. It didn’t start off that way.

Before Dan and I were married, I noticed several rough edges that needed to be sanded away and felt like I was just the one who could do it. After all, that’s what wives are for, right?

I decided to lay low for a few months, lulling Dan into a false sense of security and giving him a chance to make the changes on his own before I stepped in with my well-thought-out plan for his life. The only problem was that my plan did not line up with his plan. Furthermore, he seemed oblivious to the character flaws that were blatantly obvious to me.

After a few months of marital bliss during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow in my heart and in our marriage.

The strength I had once so admired in Dan now looked a whole lot like stubbornness.
Dan’s ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing.

What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to be in control of me.

I could go on – but you get the picture.

It was obviously time for the execution of my sure-to-succeed plan of transforming my husband into the man that God and I thought he should be. Looking back, my arrogance and ignorance are laughable, but at the time, they were just plain wrong and yielded painful and disastrous results.

I will never forget the afternoon Dan gently confronted me in love and with amazing patience. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember the words that broke my heart and saved our marriage, “Honey, I’m not sure what is going on between us. But I do know that I want to love you like you need to be loved.”

Boom!

And there you have the recipe for a successful marriage – confrontation wrapped in love for the purpose of restoration. It is also the formula for cultivating peace and unity in every relationship.

Healthy confrontation is especially important when dealing with those difficult people who rub you the wrong way – the Sandpaper People in in your life.

Sandpaper people love a good fight and often mistake combat for confrontation. The two are not the same thing. Combat slowly corrodes and splinters while confrontation is an art that, when done correctly, improves and strengthens relationships.

To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Our heart motive must be love and restoration – not getting even or winning. Confrontation is an emotional tackle for the purpose of resolving conflict while promoting peace.

Most people I know hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it. That is not all bad. In fact, if you love confrontation and drama, you are probably confronting for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if you refuse to confront, you are giving the impression that you are content with the status quo.

Silence is agreement.

Confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain unfettered, free to grow and spread its deadly relationship poison. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship as well as the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle.

As fully devoted followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to bring confrontation into the picture when dealing with sandpaper people. There is a right way and a wrong way to confront. Confrontation is not combat. The success of any confrontation depends upon understanding the difference between the two.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Why His Strength is Our Victory

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message…

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. ~~ Psalm 127:1 NIV

There are two ways champion athletes act. Consider the game of football. The guy who runs the winning touchdown either kneels on the ground, pounds his fists against his chest, and yells, “I’m Da’ Man!” or he runs to the 10-yard line, points up to God, and says, “All due credit goes to You, Jesus.”

May we do all things to the glory of God.

A girl can hope, right? Sometimes I misplace due-glory. It’s not that I don’t want to thank, praise or give credit to God. I do. It is just that I get busy, distracted, and focused on all that I need to do. All the people who need me. All the happenings around me.

Are you at all like me?

Consider, when you (work, help others, do a job, want something, are after a dream), do you:

1. Work really hard, yet feel disappointed that you don’t get what you want? (Yes/No)
2. Put your best effort in, yet feel reliant on the outcome? (Yes/No)
3. Get upset when people don’t acknowledge what you’ve done? (Yes/No)
4. Become worried that other people will look better than you? (Yes/No)
5. Wonder if you’ll be put to shame if you don’t perform well? (Yes/No)
6. Hope that people see you and notice all that you are doing? (Yes/No)
7. Work yourself to the point of being extremely tired? (Yes/No)
8. Say yes to everyone even though you know you should say no? (Yes/No)
9. Expect people to give you the things “due to you”? (Yes/No)
10. Become resentful towards the “many” people who demand things of you? (Yes/No)

If you answered yes to a few of the above questions, this is a good sign you’re working by your own strength. Strength that leads to discouragement, disappointment and a depleted spirit.

Our strength = Our defeat.

His strength = Our victory.

Where do you need to move out of the way, so that you can find a new, restful and restorative way — Jesus’ way?

Relying on God’s victory doesn’t mean we do nothing. Here are some things we can do, while trusting God as we wait on Him. We can:

1. Pray
2. Lean on His promises
3. Wait to understand what He wants us to do.
4. Move out and love others
5. Rest
6. Pray and give thanks.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Princess Problems


Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. ` Philippians 2:14

My friend Ellen is a preschool teacher who regularly contends with entitled toddlers and privileged preschoolers who know how to major on some minors and throw down some serious tantrums.

I want the red crayon, but Tommy has it!

I’m not eating this because it has white cheese. I only like yellow cheese.

I want to go first!

I’m allowed. You’re not my boss.
Miss Ellen calls these little escapades “princess problems,” and she does her best to lovingly redirect the heart of each young complainer toward the reality of his or her blessings and toward the virtue of patience, selflessness, kindness, sharing, etc..

Hardly a day goes by that the kingdom of her kiddie classroom isn’t inundated with princess problems. The outbursts are common. Most are simple issues to address, but occasionally they can become a minefield of messy mayhem that disrupts a special moment.

As I reflect on this, it occurs to me that even though I’m adult I’ve got my own fair share of princess problems. At times I throw myself in a tizzy and worry about things that don’t need to be given a second thought. I make a big deal out of situations that do not have eternal consequences just because I might be temporarily inconvenienced or offended.

I can’t believe I have to go to the grocery store again. This is the third time this week!

It took them over an hour to change the oil in my car today. Over an hour!

The pastor’s sermon was way too long and the music was loud.

In the Old Testament, Daniel could’ve complained about his problems. But he didn’t. Not even as he faced impending death when he was thrown in a den of lions. Instead, he remained devoted to God and honored the Lord while humbly serving the king who brutally destroyed his hometown and took he, and his friends, captive to Babylon.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul endured extreme hardships during his missionary journeys. He was attacked by murderous mobs, beaten, betrayed, flogged, arrested, starved, shipwrecked three times, and bitten by a viper… all while serving God! Nice, right? Though he had every earthly reason to whine about the stuff he went through, Paul didn’t. To the contrary, he wrote a letter about joy and perseverance to encourage the believers in the church of Philippi from prison. He encouraged others instead of griping about the mess he’d been through, and in spite of the limitations he was constrained by.

Ah! Perspective.

Yes. I am a daughter of the Most High, King of kings. A noble princess in God’s kingdom with an endless and enchanting inheritance. I am not, however, entitled to grumble and complain about pithy little annoyances. Not even about big things!

Period.

Princess problems don’t fly with God. There’s no loophole.

Paul wrote about this very thing in that letter he sent to the Philippians.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.(Philippians 2:14-16a)

Imagine what our loved ones and co-workers would think if you and I actually live these verses out. If we stop complaining. If we choose to be blameless and pure worshipers who trust God’s sovereignty in the inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even the worst of times.

What would it look like for you and I to hold firmly to the word of life … to sparkle instead of spew?

Let’s make a deal. You and me. The next time we get shipwrecked in our own imaginations and begin to drown in the petty dramas of our own making, let’s straighten our crooked tiaras and ask God to adjust our crooked attitudes. In doing so we’ll move forward in the strength, dignity, and joy of Jesus.

In His grace, Jesus quiets our princess problems and purifies us to shine like stars in the sky for the glory of God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Love Lives Here

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid  – John 14:26-28, NIV

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…When my husband is nicer…When we have more money…things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness? Are we lifting up the people we live with? How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

wERA4ybWWc6eW6phrckP8CBe3W5wG8seBzQdA87T6tacfepC_4_600.jpgCreate a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

  • Create meal plans for healthy eating.
  • Put things away when we are done using them.
  • Balance our bank account.
  • Pay our bills.
  • Invite others over to share a meal.
  • Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.
  • Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.

As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Does Your Light Shine?

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

Happiness is derived from helping others, making a difference, and serving the world in your own unique way.  For me, I try to do it by helping those who are struggling.

No matter what your purpose is, let your underlying mission be to “live your life in a way people say  “There’s something different about them and I want to feel the same peace, joy, and love in my own life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Here are five ways you can share this idea:

1. Look for ways to be a blessing.

Letting your light shine means letting all the good within you come out. In a world full of negativity, you will be amazed at the light which enters your world when you do something good.  It is like a burst of fresh air. Be sensitive to the needs of others. Find ways to be a blessing to others with simple random acts of kindness.  It can be as easy as a “thank you” or holding the door for someone, or paying for someone’s coffee.  It can be for someone you know or someone you don’t know – either way, your light with shine.

2. Refuse to be judgmental.

One of the fastest ways to turn people away from God is to judge them. And sometimes we do it without even realizing it.  Have you heard the saying “hate the act not the person”?  Basically, we can acknowledge a person has done wrong without condemning them for it.  We are all sinners and fall short every day.   We have all done things we need to be forgiven for, and by grace the grace of God,  we have received forgiveness.  Choose to pray for those you feel tempted to judge – not always an easy thing to do. Embrace and support others when they are trying to do better. .

3. Speak up for what is just.

Speak up for what is just—not right. Do you confuse being right with doing right? I know I have.  We should really be focusing more on doing right. No matter what, especially during conflict, it’s essential you treat people justly. Ensure those who cross your path are better off because they encountered you.  When in a situation where others are being cheated, disrespected, or done a disservice, let your light shine and speak up. Don’t ATTACK but do it in a direct, calm, straightforward, and nonjudgmental manner.  It may not always be easy but it is important to do.

4. Let go of the desire to fit in.

This is probably the toughest thing for this “people pleaser”.  Letting our light shine when we feel the need to fit in everywhere you go, is probably the hardest thing for me.  I am learning a simple smile, talking kindly to people can make all of the difference in the world.  When we are more concerned about being an instrument of truth and love rather than fitting in, our light will shine.

5. Don’t hide your spiritual life.

Do you have a relationship with God but pretend publicly he is not central in your life?  If God is an important part of who you are, why would you keep it to yourself?  Does it have something to do with fitting in?  I don’t mean you need to have a Bible on your desk or quote scripture all of the time. When an opportunity comes up  to share where your strength comes from or how blessed you are, be honest.  Your faith is a part of who you are. When you free yourself to be who you are, you also free others to be who they truly are.  You will also stop trying to please the world.

8330AB52.jpgHas your light dimmed in today’s crazy world?  I challenge you this week to find one way to share your light with the world.  Share how you did it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!