Archives For April 2010

Batteries and Jesus

Jeff Olson —  April 23, 2010 — 3 Comments

A few days ago I helped my daughter purchase her first car…an older used Toyota Camry. Everything was going well until I got the call that her car wouldn’t start. The battery was dead and it needed a jump.

After driving to where she worked and jump starting the car, I took the battery in to get checked. The battery was fine so I tried to reinstall it. That was a big mistake. Little did I know that hooking the battery back up would set off the most loud and obnoxious sounding car alarm (which I didn’t even know was installed on the car). I frantically pushed buttons and turned the key to make it stop, but I couldn’t.

Not a good way to score brownie points with your neighbors at 10pm.

After a couple of minutes of ear piercing sirens and horns, I disconnected the battery. Silence. Peace. Thank you Lord!

Calmly (I wish), I contacted the man who I bought the car from and asked him if he knew how to shut off the alarm. He didn’t. But he did think to check the internet to see if anyone else had a similar problem. Lo and behold, they did. He kindly sent me the link and I found a solution to hook up the battery and start the car without waking up the neighborhood.

At one point during all the commotion, I remember thinking how utterly lost I felt. I didn’t have a clue what to do. It never occurred to me to go search the Internet for a solution.

The experience reminds of how at a loss I sometimes feel as a counselor. There are many moments I am deeply aware that I do not have all the answers for the pain and commotion that is tearing a person’s life apart. But I know that I can eventually point them to Jesus because He does. Only He can bring them true peace and life in whatever situation they find themselves in.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects more than the individual veteran. Join our roundtable discussion on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and discover how spouses of veterans also suffer from the adverse affects of PTSD when vets come home.

The Masters

Jeff Olson —  April 9, 2010 — 8 Comments

One of my many favorite sporting events to watch in the spring is The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Of course, there is some added drama surrounding this years tournament with the return of Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer in the sport today.

In case you’ve been living a cave over the last few months, Woods stepped away from the game after the news about his numerous extra-marital affairs began to surface. Since then, he is reported to have come clean and has taken responsibility for his indiscretions.

There has been an ongoing debate over whether or not people are being too hard on a celebrity like Tiger. Some say he deserves to be run through the ringer. Others point out that other famous people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or John F. Kennedy were also serial womanizers. They question why we tend to look the other way when it comes to their sexual indiscretions and yet continue to be so harsh with Mr. Woods.

The current debate takes me back to the New Testament when a group of Jewish religious leaders tried to draw Jesus into a moral debate (John 8:1-11). While Jesus was teaching a crowd of people in the temple courts, they brought in a woman who had committed adultery, and publicly exposed her before the people.

Why they didn’t bring in the man she committed adultery with is any body’s guess.

After reminding Jesus that the Law of Moses called for her to be stoned, they asked Him what He thought. I love how Jesus handled the situation. First, he avoided the debate altogether by pointing the woman’s condemners back to their own sinfulness—“let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:8). After every one of her accusers turned and walked away,  he told her he didn’t condemn her either and asked her to leave her life of sin.  

As the moral failures of others continue to make headline news, may we follow Jesus lead and not condemn. And may it serve as a reminder to us that we all have our own weaknesses where sin can more easily infiltrate and ruin our lives.

There’s a lot written about controlling people. They are people who must be in control of every detail of their lives. They can be CEO’s who manage multimillion dollar international corporations or moms who are running the home front with 2 preschoolers, a first grader, and a new puppy. Both can be extremely demanding occupations, and each with their own rewards. Granted, the former is often compensated with lucrative bonuses and stock options while the later is compensated with sticky hugs, slobbery kisses, and memories that last a lifetime–and stains that you’ll never get out not matter how much Spray & Wash you use.

But is there a difference between being in control and being controlling? Absolutely. One is essential. The other is destructive.

If a car is hurling down the highway at 70mph, I certainly do hope there’s someone in control of the vehicle. Anyone who has ever driven on icy roads in the winter and experienced “black ice” conditions  is familiar with the terror of not being in control. Control of a vehicle is good. Otherwise, it’s irresponsible at least and lethal at worst.

To take control in situations where there is chaos–like a hospital ER,  the scene of an auto accident, or an air traffic control tower–is a responsible thing to do. That’s not being controlling. It’s harnessing your power, skills, authority, and resources to restore order to an otherwise chaotic and potentially dangerous situation. Taking control in situations that require intervention is a productive example of responsible strength in action to bring about a good purpose. The focus is on how it benefits others. And we all can learn and be trained how to do that more effectively.

However, we all know controlling people. You know, the ones who think the world revolves around them.  They feel the need to control others not because it’s best for others, but because it’s best for themselves. They don’t trust anyone else to get things right. They only trust themselves. They are fundamentally insecure, driven, and self-absorbed. And just plain no fun to be around.

People who are controlling are driven to be the god of their universe. Just like the Evil One who nursed a craving to take the place of God in the world, so also people who are controlling are determined to bend the will of others to their own. Listen to Isaiah’s words:

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights or the sacred mountain.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Bottom line, it’s the “I will’s” of the heart that reduced Lucifer from being the beautiful one into the ugly enemy of all that is good. When controlling people honestly begin to listen to what they are saying in their hearts, they will begin to hear a familiar refrain of desperation. And desperation based on disbelief eventually leads to the defiant “I will” kind of attitude and actions that are classified as controlling.

Okay. Here’s the rub. We all have control issues. I mean it. We all have serious control issues. It looks different on each of us–just like the same clothes look different on each of us given our unique body shape, eye and hair color, and height–but we all struggle with control. We’re vulnerable and we know it. And we all need to learn how to not be defiantly controlling but responsibly in control.

Controlling people are desperately trying to control their world because they don’t really believe that God has their best interests in mind.  Have you ever been there? I sure have. While I’m delighted to say that it’s gotten better over the years, I’m saddened to say that my disbelief hasn’t been fully eradicated.

“But,” you may say, “I trust God.” Yep. Me too. And yet, at some core heart level, I must admit that I still battle with pockets of defiant resistance. Abandoning oneself into God’s hands can often feel more reckless than responsible. Our refusal to trust Him is exposed. Believing that He really is good is the essence of true biblical faith “because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

So, now it’s your turn to sound off. How do you respond to the controlling people in your world? Or maybe a better question is, how do you respond when someone catches you being controlling? Have you ever caught yourself being controlling? Or, have you been negligent in taking responsible control in situations where others need your help? I’d love to hear what God is stirring in you.