Archives For February 2012

Just Tell the Truth. Please.

Tim Jackson —  February 27, 2012 — 7 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I’m so fed up with the shenanigans and the mudslinging attacks of the political climate in this major election year that I just turn it all off. I’m sorry, but I’m tired of the lies. Whether it’s shading the truth, telling half-truths, not telling the whole truth, or just outright bold-faced lies, I’m sickened by it all.

Would somebody please just tell the truth!?!

In his opening lines in a letter of encouragement to a young church leader he was mentoring, the apostle Paul penned these words: “for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:1-2).

In our desperate hour, the only hope we have of authentic truth is the non-lying God. All others—even those we love who are well-intentioned—will eventually fail us. God alone can be trusted to tell us the truth—always. While at times we may struggle to embrace the truth He speaks, God was, is, and will always be truthful, faithful, and loving. That’s simply who He is. He can do nothing less.

Call me a skeptic or maybe even a cynic at times, but I’m just not hopeful of hearing much truth spoken during political campaigns. Not from either camp. But I’m confident that I can count on the non-lying Jesus who came to speak “grace and truth” (John 1:14) to restore our hope when all feels lost.

So, no matter what happens in the predictably uncertain world of politics and world affairs, don’t lose heart (John 16:33). If you have lost heart, I encourage you to refocus on the One who is the Truth, the non-lying God.


Emotions–Good or Bad?

Jeff Olson —  February 23, 2012 — 6 Comments

In his book Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge points out that it was “God who gave us a sense of humor.” He goes on to ask, “Do you really think Jesus came to take it away?”

Of course, the answer is no way! Jesus was hardly dry and humorless. But Eldredge’s question got me to thinking about emotions in general – are they good or are they bad.

Emotions often get a bad rap, but the fact that Jesus was deeply moved by a close friend’s death show that He didn’t come to take them away (John 11:33-36). Emotions are a legitimate part of being made in the image of a God who feels emotions –“The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” –Genesis 6:6.

As God’s image bearers, it is good and right for us to feel the full range of emotions. In fact, it is a mistake to bottle up one’s emotions. This is a form of denial that can keep us from learning important things about ourselves from what we feel.

Strong emotions can be a signal that something inside of us needs serious attention—maybe a need for love and comfort or something unholy in us that must be owned and confessed.

So pay attention to your feelings.

God might be using them to show you something important!

The Human Connection

Allison Stevens —  February 15, 2012 — 9 Comments

 I took my little dog for a walk this morning. It’s unseasonably warm where we live, so I thought I really should get out with Lely and enjoy nature a bit.

 I love the outdoors—the trees, birds, squirrels, sunrises, sunsets, storms, sunshine, mountains, oceans. I love it all. And sometimes its beauty can bring me to tears. Do you know what I mean?

 And I love my dog.  She’s sweet, cute, and a little cuddler. She’s my buddy, always following me around the house and settling in near me. She knows I’m the one who caves when she begs for food, so during meals she is always by my side with her paw on my leg. It’s kind of annoying, but it’s my fault so I can’t complain.

Even though I love my dog and I love and appreciate nature, I felt the pangs of loneliness on my walk. Neither the chirping of the birds nor the presence of Lely was able to assuage it. I don’t really know what caused my feelings, but they were real. I guess it was just a little too isolated for me.

Then a sweet lady came around the corner with her little dog and we chatted for about 15 seconds. Then, as we talked, a bicyclist came by and complimented my dog on her new hairdo. (She has cute red bows in her hair, and it is adorable!) The lady and I smiled and wished each other a good day and went our separate ways.

I noticed as I walked away that there was a new pep in my step. I felt exhilarated. I was energized because of my communication with people. It was the connection with a woman I didn’t know and a man on a bike who simply commented on my dog’s haircut that helped alleviate some of that moaning in my soul.

So simple, yet the impact for me was profound. We are made for each other.

Will I feel lonely again? Of course, we all do from time to time. But this morning was a poignant reminder of how important people are to our mental and emotional well-being. Sure, some of us need “alone-time” more than others, but we are designed for human connection.

Genesis 2:20-24 talks about how God’s other parts of creation didn’t quite fit Adam. He needed another person (Eve) to touch his heart in a way that a lion or a fruit tree couldn’t. To me, this passage is not only a tribute to marriage, but also a reminder that we best represent the fullness of God’s character in relationship with one another. We need close and intimate connections; we need true friendship.

Love is blind . . .

Tim Jackson —  February 7, 2012 — 11 Comments

My bride of 35 years recently brought home a sign that she wants to hang in our soon-to-be-remodeled bathroom. [The soon-to-be-remodeled part being . . . as soon as I can get to it. And we all know how that goes. :-)] Here’s the sign:

It makes me laugh. We do a lot of that around our house. But it’s more than funny. What hits me is the proverbial sounding wisdom that it whimsically communicates. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Solomon wrote it in the Proverbs. He didn’t. (I looked.) But he could have.

Why do we laugh? Because it’s only those of us who are married who have the insider information about how true those words are.

Think about it, those of you who are married. You know who you are. You laughed the loudest. Come on, be honest. Didn’t you? Why? It’s because when you were in that ooey-gooey, falling-in-love stage, there’s a lot you closed your eyes to with thoughts like: “Oh, we’ll work that out later.” We all did.

However, it’s after the post-honeymoon glow wears off and doing life together sets in that we begin to see each other more clearly—no tux, no wedding dress—just who we are in street clothes. Honestly, it feels vulnerable, over-our-heads naked with nowhere to hide. Excitement and terror all rolled into one.

That’s when, with eyes wide open, we catch our first glimpses of the exquisite design that God had in mind when He made one man for one woman (Gen. 2:18, 21-25). Though we live east of Eden, we are given the daily opportunity to make good on our wedding-day promises to “nourish and cherish” our spouse with all of our hearts until our last dying breath (Eph. 5:25-33).

Now for those of you who are in the falling in love stage of your relationship and you’re thinking, “I don’t get it.” Don’t worry. Give it time. You will.

Ooey-gooey love is great, for starters; but it won’t sustain you for the long haul kind of love that is required to go the distance. It’s the God-help-me-love-you-when-I-don’t-feel-like-it kind of love that is needed.

Love is blind–but, if we’re willing, God can and will use marriage to open our hearts to love our mates more deeply than we ever thought possible. Really. Get the picture?

The Marriage Killer

Jeff Olson —  February 3, 2012 — 6 Comments

Nagging is a marriage killer. So says a study reported in the recent Wall Street Journal article—“Meet the Marriage Killer.”

The article defines the nagging problem as the “interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed.”

The article goes on to point out that every couple experiences nagging to some degree, but it can grow to “be as potentially dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances.” A couple will start bickering about the nagging and never address what is underneath the nagging. In time, this type of “toxic communication” can “sink the relationship.”

Is nagging ruining your marriage? Admit the conflict! The good news is that couples can grow and learn how to curb the nagging and replace it with mutual love and respect. But they first need to recognize and acknowledge they are stuck in a bad pattern.

Together, and often with the help of a trusted guide, spouses can start to work towards listening and understanding where each other is coming from. They can learn to talk through feelings and needs in ways that can help them consider how to love one another more. Accusations and demands for change can start to be replaced with non-demanding expressions and requests of what each spouse legitimately needs from the other.

Watch a short video below by Dr. Larry Crabb on handling conflict in your marriage.