Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Dysfunctional Backgrounds

July 23, 2018


If I have come to Jesus, is there a way out of a dysfunctional background?  Or do I have to live with all the havoc my family created in my life?

I want to be sure I understand what you are asking. Are you asking whether dysfunction in your family’s past or in your ancestry has to affect you and your family today? In that case, the answer is that Jesus has defeated sin and its hold over everyone who comes to him. That is a simple answer, but in practical life, your responses and your habits had their beginnings in the things you grew up with. Those things have to change if they are still present. That is where the church can help. Believers help each other learn and grow. Small groups or mentors can help believers see where their interactions or behaviors can be hurting them. Change happens intentionally, when, through prayer and thought, one deliberately changes behavior. Often more than behaviors have to change. Other changes include establishing strong boundaries over what you will and won’t allow from others, how you will spend your time, where you will live and visit, conversations you will and won’t have, and so on. It may be helpful to have a Christian counselor (there are some fees, usually affordable), or a mentor (friendship based, no fee). Larger churches are often able to provide these services. You might also read “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend, which is available in Christian bookstores or online.

Don’t give up hope. Geneology doesn’t have to determine our present or our future. Many of the greatest servants of God in the bible had dubious pasts themselves, or came from dysfunctional families. In fact, you don’t have to look very far to find dysfunction in any family.   But Jesus and His Holy Spirit are stronger than any hurt, habit or history.



March 9, 2016

Don’t quarrel with anyone.  Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.  Romans 12

How is it possible to get along in this world without a quarrel?  What causes quarrels anyway?  Either someone insists on things being done their way, which is a quarrel about doing, or the quarrel is about being right, which is a quarrel about believing.  Both come about because both parties are putting themselves before another.

Whenever possible, a loving, humble person lets the other fully state their position, giving them the respect of being heard.  It is helpful to reflect what you believe the other person is saying.  It is also helpful to reflect the feelings being expressed.  When you have done this, you have opened a door of respect to let yourself be heard.  When the disagreement is about doing, often a compromise can be worked out–often coming to a better solution together than if one person simply gave in.  When the disagreement is about belief, hearing another person first should open the door to letting the second person state their beliefs in turn.  If that isn’t about to happen, nothing is to be gained by quarreling.  The second person can simply say  “Lets agree to disagree”, or something like that.  People who cannot listen to another’s beliefs, cannot listen to reason.  If someone didn’t reason their way into their own position, they will never be reasoned out of it, or even be able to acknowledge your right to another point of view.

Guarding my Heart and Mind

February 1, 2016

A man’s heart determines his speech.  A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him.  An evil-hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.   Matt 12:34-35

We all know what it feels like when we can’t wait to tell someone what is on our mind.  Our thoughts, good or bad, when connected with emotion, good or bad, are just bound to come out in our speech.  When we’re angry at someone, we can’t wait to get it off our chest.  When we want to complain, we have those who will listen.  When we are very excited by good news, we want to share that, and when we have what we think is a great idea, we can’t wait to show it off.  The best speech of all, is the one that comforts and encourages someone else, but even that has to come from somewhere.  We have to think about what to say, or at least draw on springs of compassion from somewhere deep within us.

So, if we want to be one of those people who always seems to have a good word for everyone, and great ideas to share, we have to do some serious work on the contents of our minds.  Many people have no idea they can control their thoughts.  They just let any and all thoughts wander through the living room of their minds like a herd of sheep, complete with dirty feet and scattered remains.  Counselors have long called depression the result of “stinkin’ thinkin'”  and if that is true, its time to clean the house of our minds.  We can train ourselves to periodically examine our thoughts.  We can ask ourselves, “whats been uppermost in my mind today?  Or what were the top 5 things I gave a lot of thought to today?”   Then we can examine whether these thoughts were productive thoughts, enjoyable thoughts, anxiety producing thoughts, or angry, resentful thoughts.  We can then consciously dismiss the negative, useless thoughts.  With practice, we can learn to recognize a negative thought right away and chase it out like we chase wildlife away from the house.

Since most minds ( multitasking is really whirling tasks around, not concentrating on multiple things as once) can only dwell on one thought at a time, there is limited space on the mental agenda.  If the agenda is full of positive thought, its harder for the negative to get in.

How can we get more productive, happy, useful thoughts into our minds?  Fill them with nourishment.  First of all, pray.  Thank God for all that is good and beautiful in your life.  Ask His help to be a positive person.  Ask Him what good and lovely things He wants you to work on today or this week.  Read good, inspiring thoughts every day.  Scripture verses, chapters of scripture, and devotionals are a start.  Biographies of people who led uplifting lives are good, as are “heartwarming” fictional stories and shows.  Try to spend more time around the people who bring you “up”, and less time around those who drag you “down”.  As you get stronger, you can try to tackle lifting those negative people, but you have to breathe the oxygen yourself first.


January 5, 2016

“”Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for he alone has all wisdom and all power.  World events are under his control.  He removoes kings and sets others on their thrones.  He gives wise men their wisdom, and scholars their intelligence.  He gives wise men their wisdom, and scholars their intelligence.  He reveals profound mysteries behond man’s understanding.  He knows all hidden things, for he is light, and darkness is no obstacle to him.”  Daniel 2 20-22.

These days are terrifying.  When we don’t know what kind of threat we face, whether a bomb will be detonated in our crowded shopping area, whether we will be shot at an event, whether we will be gassed by poison gas or infected with some weaponized microbes, we are always worrying and wondering.  We wonder if our children will grow old and whether our grandchildren will grow up.  If we are a young person, we wonder whether we will ever see children or grandchildren ourselves.  We have a vague anxiety, because we don’t really know how powerful our enemies might be, who they are and what are their capabilities.  Its a tough world to be living in right now.

Daniel has the answer for those who believe God.  He was, after all, a prisoner of a power who destroyed his nation and took him captive.  But God protected him.  Though he lost his possessions and likely was separated from his loved ones, his life was spared, and he was selected for special training in the kings palace.  Daniel knew God existed, and he prayed regularly to God.  He knew God’s power and God’s knowledge was without limits.  We can know that, too, if we know Jesus.  Jesus claimed to be God in human form, and he proved it by his mighty miracles and his ultimate resurrection from the dead.  He taught the same things Daniel said–that God is all powerful, all knowing, and all good to those who love him.  Ultimately, our faith helps us get through these days of horror.  God is bigger than any terrorist group, powerful enough to take them out when He’s ready, and to use them for His own purposes until that time.  He knows the thoughts of every person, and He knows what they are all planning.  God knows all about us and is able to protect us.  He promises to help those who love Him.  We need not fear.  God has our back.   He is for us.  He loves us.  He holds us in His hands.  We are in good hands with God.  We are in the very best place to be.

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

Virtual Marriage

June 21, 2011

It seems everything is virtual nowadays.  Relationships become more shallow by the year.  Texting replaces a call.  A facebook message replaces a letter.  E-cards replace cards.  We hardly talk face to face with anyone.  And along comes virtual marriage.

We used to call it “shacking up”.  Now they call it “trying out marriage”.  Being a roommate before being a mate.  And about one in four couples are doing this.  Why, I wonder?  Where is the love?

Men have always dragged their feet at commitment.  They like the idea of a back door to escape out of whenever things get tough in a relationship.  There’s also the “grass is greener” mentality, where commitment shuts the door on the possibility of a better partner.  In this mentality is a kind of childishness–thinking solely of self and not the “other”.  Certainly its not love.  However, even such men do not like the idea of the woman having an affair on the side.  Whats ok for the gander isn’t ok for the goose.  Not all men are this way, however.  A man can mature and truly love, becoming a very caring, protective committed husband.   He learns to love, and recognize the benefits of marriage.

Women need something else.  Women long to be loved and cherished.  They need exclusivity to feel secure.  They don’t really open up and blossom without knowing its permanent.  They want to love, to build a nest and a future and a family eventually.  What is different now?  Men haven’t changed, but women have.  They are settling for less.  With their own careers they might feel less financial incentive to marry (although married couples do better financially than singles).  With more reliable birth control, they may feel they no longer have a reason to hold out for marriage.  But whats in this virtual marriage for women?   Their very basic needs for love and security aren’t being met in this arrangement.  They give their best years to a man who doesn’t love them enough to commit to them.  They don’t have a real marriage, because they can’t risk being who they really are: they aren’t secure enough.  They postpone childbearing many times because of that insecurity, sometimes too long for their biological peak.  And in the end, when he does bolt for that back door or greener grass, they are just as devastated as they would have been with a divorce.  Living with a man who is uncommitted is unrequited love, and thats just letting oneself be used, doing nothing of value for the loved one, and devastating for the self.

God knew what he was doing.  He made men and women for each other.  He knew men do best with a family to care for; that it brings out the finest qualities in them.  He knew women do best when their love is returned, and their relationship is secure.  And so he made one man and woman to live for one another, exclusively, for a lifetime.  And they are fruitful, raising chidren, and mentoring grandchildren.  And all cultures that endure have accepted this.

Fathers Day

June 21, 2011

I absolutely loved the “Peanuts” Father’s Day cartoon.  Charlie Brown admits his dad can’t golf or bowl as well as Lucy’s dad, but when he goes into his dad’s barber shop, no matter how busy it is, his dad gives him a big smile because “he likes me.”

Dad’s do two things no one else can do in a child’s life.  Dads, whether worthy or not, portray the heavenly father for their children.  A cruel or abusive dad portrays God as an angry, punitive father.  A dad who teaches the child character and morals, while patiently helping them learn to make decisions, set goals, do their best, challenge themselves, and love with real world love, gives them a picture of a God they can love and desire to know.

The other thing Dad’s do is like their kids.  Kids know their mothers love them unconditionally.  Dad’s approval has to be earned.  When Dad teaches his child what to do to be a worthy human being, forgives them when they fail, but insists they have another “go” at it to do it right, they earn his approval.  While he critiques them, he doesn’t reject them.  Such a dad gives his kids real confidence, honest and realistic confidence, and they live for his approval.  Such kids are achievers, and they are secure knowing “my dad likes me.”  They also see the model of a God who has standards, yet has compassion, and who likes them.

Prayer when the world seems a mess

March 25, 2011

Lord, thank you for reminding me that You care about the good of our world and about everyone in it.  You care when evil people misrepresent You.  You care when evil people deface the beautiful things You have created.  You care about war, violence, greed and abuse of people and the sacred.  You care about the lost, lonely, sick, misguided and silly people.  You care about everyone I love.  You care about the things that make me sad because they are wrong.  They make You sadder than I’ll ever know.  If I cry over sin in me and others, You wept first, and with more feeling.

Thank you for caring about it all and about me.  And thank you that You are still in control and working out all things for good for all who love You.

Dealing with Hostile People

March 17, 2011

Its so hard to have compassion when someone is hostile.  No matter how ill they are or how disordered are their circumstances, if they are hateful in their comments or body language, its difficult to maintain a kindly or even just objective manner.

One thing that helps is to remember the hostility is sort of a presenting symptom of what is going on underneath.  Its like a fever–meaningless alone, but it indicates something else is happening.  Under anger is usually pain, sadness,  fear or helplessness.  Remembering that, its easier to be helpful.  Lord, help me see the hurt under the difficult behavior, and help me soothe that hurt.

A Prayer for Help to Forgive

March 12, 2011

Lord, I know unforgiveness blocks Your living water in my own soul.  It cuts off the flow in my spiritual arteries.  What am I to do?  I see things and hear things that stab my heart.  Immediately I must bring them to You.  You saw what I saw.  You know I feel what I feel.  I am to leave this in Your capable hands.  You know what I cannot know.  You see into the heart of the other person, and You will deal with them in love, as is necessary.  I am to let go and just love.  I can “just love” by praying for their good, and by saying and doing good to them if and where I am able.  I am to think their good by remembering that You love them and You are bringing about good in their life.  Help me have Your thoughts and an attitude that pleases You.