Month: June 2012

Taking the Bite out of Betrayal

Betrayal bites. Of all the plots Satan can work into a relationship, betrayal is the worst. At the heart of betrayal is broken trust. Whether it be in the form of an affair, lies, gossip, backstabbing, or walking away from a relationship, betrayal in essence involves the breaking of trust.  You trusted the person to be, do, or carry out something and they did not. Most of the time, betrayal has a deliberate essence to it. Sometimes it is even premeditated.

Unfortunately, trust is not as highly valued as it should be. People make all kinds of promises that they can’t or refuse to keep. They do what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they want to do it with very little if any concern for its relational effect. Then, they expect this flippant attitude and behavior to be rewarded with trust.  We are truly a disposable, consumer minded society that has placed a high value on convenience to the point where even relationships, commitment, and trust are scene as expendable. Like a membership at a YMCA, we seem to value relationships as far as they serve our needs and a better opportunity doesn’t present itself. Once a relationship stops serving our needs, all bets are off. Not a pleasant reality, but sadly a true one.

Yet, trust takes much time and relational travel to establish, but people expect it to happen over night. Trust should be treasured and built patiently over time.  It’s not instant, nor is it disposable.  Furthermore, it is the product of a relationship going through ups and down together and passing the tests of trust.

With a growing disregard for authority, friendships, integrity, and trust, betrayal has become common place and basically expected. What God hates, Satan has made predictable… betrayal.

So, what is a person to do with this issue of betrayal? Unfortunately it can’t be completely prevented, but here is some wisdom that can guide you in taking the bite out of betrayal.

o.o1 Acknowledge the Hurt – Trying to play the tough guy (or girl) through betrayal is not healthy. Betrayal is gut-wrenching. Make sure you don’t try to bury the anger you have.  Take time to express your hurt to God and perhaps a close friend with whom you can trust. The more you stow it, the more is festers and grows.

o.o2 Retrace the Steps – Typically, betrayal doesn’t happen overnight. Furthermore, what may feel like betrayal could have a very legitimate explanation. To be sure, it will be difficult at best to put together the puzzle of events that led to the betrayal, but doing your best to understand what led to it will help you process it and move forward with appropriate emotions and actions.

o.o3 Learn to Exit Well – Betrayal sometimes occurs when people don’t know how to leave or deal with a situation or relationship. Instead of handling it with clear, direct communication, they hide in the shadows only to make their choices known through others or with no explanation at all. In some circumstances, people will find excuses to exit stage left and use blame to legitimize the guilt they feel in leaving your side. In other circumstances, they will make decisions that force your hand in confronting them and setting boundaries so that they don’t have to take responsibility for the decline or dissolving of the relationship. In essence, they make you say “no” so they don’t have to. This is of course very hurtful, but also serves as a good lesson on how not to do the same to another.

I imagine that Judas discovered early on that there became a point where he no longer supported the cause and/or claims of Christ. But rather then handle that with direct and clear communication, he betrayed Jesus. Add into the mix some greed, bitterness, and temptation and you can begin to retrace the steps of Judas’ exit stage left from the side of Jesus.

o.o4 Reenter with Caution – Betrayal doesn’t always mean the end.  For example, I have seen many couples overcome the worst of affairs and rebuild their marriage stronger than ever.  However, anytime there has been a betrayal, giving back trust and moving towards reconciliation should be done with care and caution. Forgiveness only takes one person, trust and restoration always takes two. Developing discernment and having a healthy relational radar system can go a long way at preventing betrayal.

o.o5 Let God get Justice- When we are betrayed it’s easy to desire revenge. Even when we are at no fault and justified in our anger, revenge is not a good thing.  When it comes to betrayal, trying to even the score will always end up in losing the game.  Does this mean you should not confront the person or seek measures of appropriate discipline or boundaries? No. But it does mean that any actions taken should not be authored from a spirit of revenge.  Aside from any appropriate confrontation or discipline, let God take care of the issues of justice and revenge. He can handle it, we can’t.

0.o6 Don’t Give Up on Trust- There are a lot of good, trustable people out there with whom you can have a betrayal free relationship. Take time to develop trust. Trust can’t be rushed. People who won’t take the time and do the work to build trust probably won’t value it nor protect it once you give it.  There is a difference between being careful and being distrusting. Be careful, but don’t assume that people aren’t trustable.

The Art of Being Content

We all want to be happy and satisfied in our lives.  We want to have the sense that our lives are complete, whole, and everything they are purposed to be.  The thought that possibly we are missing out on something can be haunting.  When our secret thoughts continually center around a theme of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment no matter how life has blessed us, unrest and emptiness abound.

Jesus taught a lot about how to have the best life possible. He desires for us to learn the art of being content. Here are some key points in His teaching…

o.o1 Be satisfied in God first and foremost

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

God not only has everything we need to be content, God is everything we need to be content.  When, through faith and a personal relationship with Jesus, we respect and have a deep sense of awe of God, we grow to learn that we can be content in Him alone.  As we look towards material possessions and accomplishments to make us content, God often asks us the question, “Am I enough for you?”

When we grow to become satisfied in God alone and not things and accomplishments, we find a place a peace, wholeness, and fulfillment nothing can steal.  So much of the things life gives us can be taken away, that’s why when we tie our contentment to them we will never be satisfied, but rather often disappointed.  Jesus taught that earthly pleasures will never be enough for us.  The moment we have one thing, reach one level, accomplish one thing, we will be dissatisfied and want something else. However, when we grow to a place where God Himself is enough for us, our well of satisfaction will never run dry.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

o.o2  Become a generous giver

The world says that if you want to be content then you need to, “Take take take, and keep, keep, keep.”  Jesus teaches that if you want to be content, “Give, give, give, and serve, serve, serve.”  Jesus turns the whole idea of being happy and satisfied in life upside down.  In fact, in the Kingdom of God, you only get to keep what you are willing to give away.

When our possessions possess us, you can be sure contentment soon leaves the building.  It seems like money and material possessions should be able to fill the satisfaction cup in our lives. And, for a short period of time, they can. But soon enough, we want and need more.  Enough is never enough. As the saying goes, “happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you already have.”

However when we become givers, we soon realize that contentment comes not in what we have, but in what we give. As Jesus taught, it is in giving that we actually receive in a way that satisfies the soul.  Find me a person who has a serious void of contentment in their life and you will have found a person who is probably doing a lot more “taking and keeping” and a lot less, “giving and serving.”

Furthermore, when we become givers we also become thankers. A thankful heart is the pathway to contentment. When we are thankful people, no matter our circumstances, we can find the cup of our lives to be half full rather than have empty.  Looking at our lives through the lens of thankfulness is the quickest cure to the cancer of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment.

o.o3 Keep the past in the past

Shame, guilt, and regret are Satan’s darts used to pop the balloon of our life from being filled with contentment. Life isn’t always about doing the right thing, sometimes it’s about taking what as been done and making it right.  Letting the past dictate the future will eclipse the presence of contentment in our lives. The more we are unsatisfied with the past, the more we will be unsatisfied with the present and future. Somewhere along the way, we have to cut the cord emotionally, and let the past be the past.

When you do this, you are able to enjoy the present for what it is. You are not sizing it up to anything in the past.  You are free to move on and enjoy taking hold of a brighter future.  Discontent with the past only leads to discontent with the present and the future. You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about today.

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” 

Notice that God doesn’t say, “Yesterday is the day…”

o.o4  Discover and live God’s Purpose for you life

Spending time and energy on things that don’t matter rob of us of true satisfaction and fulfillment. The worst thing in life isn’t failing, it’s becoming successful at things that don’t really matter.

There is a huge difference between significance and success. You can become successful without ever being significant.  Significance is focused on impacting the things that God cares about.  It’s about pouring our lives into causes that are close to the heart of God.  Living your life to be wealthy, comfortable, and secure is not a cause that is close to the heart of God.  God is not interested in you promoting yourself, but in you promoting Him.  People who spend their lives on self-serving pursuits are never truly content. It’s only when we align our lives with God’s purpose for it that we become fulfilled and content.

There are many ways to discover God’s unique purpose for your life. However, in short, I believe God’s purpose for your life can be found where your greatest gifts from God meet God’s greatest needs in the world.  Right within the pain of your life you can find God’s purpose for your life.  God wants to take our misery and turn it into a ministry.  When we combine our circumstances, gifts, personalities, resources, and struggles and connect them with God’s greatest needs in the world, we will be well on our way to discovering God’s unique purpose for our lives.

Don’t waste your life becoming successful, spend your life becoming significant.

As you do that, make sure you become yourself and not somebody else.  When we try to become other people and live other people’s lives we will never find true contentment. If you can’t become content in who God created you to be, how can you become content with anything else? God didn’t create you to spend your life trying to be somebody else. Think of it this way, if God created you to be you, and you are not willing to be you, then why did God create you in the first place?

Playing the comparison game as you evaluate your life based on what everybody else has, does, and is, will keep you from ever being satisfied and fulfilled in life.

0.05 Focus on holiness not happiness

So many people live their lives pursuing anything and everything that makes them “happy.”  God doesn’t mind you being happy, but He does mind when what makes us happy gets in the way of what makes us Holy. Happiness doesn’t always lead to holiness.

Furthermore, happiness is highly overrated. Happiness can be taken away from you and is often based on what is or isn’t happening in our lives. If people like us, we are happy. If they don’t, we aren’t happy. If our job is going well and the finances are solid, then we are happy. If we hit a bad season at work and the money is tight, we aren’t happy. So much of happiness is codependent on life.

Holiness, on the other hand, leads to something better than happiness… joy.  Happiness can be taken away from you, true joy cannot.  Holiness brings us a satisfaction and contentment that the world cannot touch. It enables us to have a sense of joy no matter our circumstances.

Holiness isn’t about living a perfect life, it’s about progressing spiritually and striving to do the right thing even when it feels wrong.  Holiness is about asking the Holy Spirit,”What needs working on in my life?” and then allowing the Holy Spirit do what only He can do, and that is to change you. Holiness is about seeing ourselves as God sees us.  God loves all people and sees people who believe in Him as “the righteousness of Christ.”  For the believer there is no condemnation… none!

When I look in the mirror I can be content with what I see, not because I am perfect (far from it), but because of how God sees me and who I am becoming in the process.

It’s not about being happy, it’s about being Holy.

When People Disappoint You

I know for sure there are many people who I have disappointed. And, there are of course people who have disappointed me. When people fail to meet our expectations it can be disheartening to say the least.  Especially when our expectations have been warranted and worthy.

Because we live in a world where there are no perfect people, people will inevitably disappoint us.  They will say and do the wrong things or not say and do the right things. How we handle these disappointments can define many aspects of our lives.

Here are some things that serve me well in handling those tough moments when people disappoint…

1) Remember, you have been the person of whom another person has secretly said, “Wow, that was disappointing.” Chances are, you didn’t mean to disappoint and may not even be aware that you have. We are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world.  Not everyone who disappoints you means to do so or is even aware of it. So, be careful not to overreact or assume the worst. Depending on the circumstance, it may be very helpful to communicate your disappointment directly to the person.  It’s hard to expect people to meet expectations you haven’t communicated.

2) Don’t look to people to fulfill the deep needs in your life.  Jesus is to be our all and all, not people.  People can’t make you happy, fulfilled, secure, or valuable. These, and many other deep emotional needs can only truly be filled by God. When we look to people to meet needs in us that only God can, we will always be disappointed. Furthermore, we will wear people and relationships out as we try to get them to fill in us what only can be filled by God. People cannot complete us, facebook cannot complete us, and neither can your spouse. Only God can complete you. If you turn to people, relationships, or facebook for your security, worth, identity, affirmation, and value, you will be frequently disappointed and the people around you will be exhausted from the drama.

3) You will probably only have a handful of people in your life that are truly “with” you. There a basically three types of people in your relationship life…   Opportunist, Causist, and Loyalist

Opportunist– These are people who are not “with” you, but rather they are “with” the opportunity you bring to them or represent.  Maybe you have given them an opportunity to be a part of your vision, a staff position, or any number of things. They are with you mainly because of the opportunity you represent or offer. Once the opportunity is gone and you no longer serve as some kind of benefit to them, they will likely not remain “with” you for long. In fact, they were never with you, they were with the opportunity that came with you.  Once you no longer serve as a benefit to them or carry on the opportunity that came with you, they will likely no longer have an interest and move on to other things. Sometimes, they will join up with another person(s) or group who represent a better opportunity. Either way, they are with the opportunity, not you.

This can be very disappointing because we often hope opportunist are really loyalist or at least become them later on. Unfortunately, they often aren’t and never do become them.  That’s why they are opportunist.

All opportunist aren’t necessarily bad people. Not all opportunist are using you. Many of them care about you, but at the same time care more about the opportunity you represent and bring. The disappointment comes when we expect opportunists to behave like loyalist.  The more we see opportunist as opportunist and not loyalist, the less will be surprised and disappointed.

Causist- These are people who are not “with” you but rather they are “with” the cause you share together.  Typically they are against what you are against. Sometimes, they are for what you are for.  Either way, they are “with” the cause, but not “with” you.

The moment you no longer stand for what they stand for or stand against what they stand against, or the cause becomes completed, they will likely no longer have an interest in you and move onto to other things.

The truth is, many people and relationships fit into either the causist or opportunist category. That’s neither bad or good necessarily, it’s just reality. Furthermore, most people will leave our side, distance themselves, or move onto other things in one way or another. Typically, it’s because they were either relationships primarily of opportunity or cause at the heart. When we understand this, it helps us to see and celebrate our relationships for what they are instead of be thoroughly disappointed for what they aren’t.  Yes, we would all probably love the causist and opportunist to be or become loyalist and they could certainly benefit in learning to do so, but that typically is not the case.  This understanding can go a long way to handling the disappointments people cause us.

Loyalist-  These are the people who are “with” you. No matter what you stand for or stand against, whether you are right or wrong, whether you present an opportunity or not. They are with you, above and beyond any vision, cause, opportunity, or alike.

I can count on both hands the people who are loyalists in my life.  Jesus himself during his earthly ministry only had essentially a few loyalists. If you have any loyalists in your life, thank God for them, they are tremendous gift.

Loyalists stand by your side no matter where you are. They believe in you, what God is doing in you, and they want to be a part of your life no matter what. They stay by you when you fail or succeed, rise or fall, hurt or help.

No, these people are not enablers or “yes” people. You can disagree with someone and even disapprove of their behavior and yet still be “with” them. Jesus was often criticized for being “with” sinners… emotionally and physically.  Some of the loyalists in my life have often confronted me, disciplined me, and spoke the truth in love.  In those confrontational moments, I could have walked away, but they didn’t and wouldn’t.

Loyalist are life-timers. Whatever life brings, they are “with” you.

Understand the opportunist is like scaffolding in a building project, they are next to you for a while because of the opportunity you bring or represent that benefits them, but when the opportunity you bring or represent is gone or a better one comes along, they will likely leave your side for something or someone else.

Understand the causist is like a fellow soldier in a mission, they are with you for a shared cause. You either have a shared enemy to battle or goal you desire to accomplish. Once the battle changes, ends, or you change, they will likely either find another cause or continue their cause with someone or something else.

Understand the loyalist is with you no matter what.

To help with disappointment, don’t confuse the Opportunist nor the Causist with a Loyalist. Acknowledge what each of these relationships are so you don’t experience the disappointment that comes with making them into something they aren’t.

It’s Always Personal

So, have you heard the phrase, “It’s nothing personal?”  Of course you have, and probably in the same conversation you also heard something like “Don’t take this personally…”

As a leader, I have heard those words countless times.  And quite honestly, I don’t buy it.

The truth about leadership and ministry is, it’s always personal.  If it has to do with people in any way shape or form, it’s personal.

I’m not saying that some people don’t have some worthy intentions when they drop the “it’s nothing personal” phrase, but let’s be honest. To me, the use of that phrase is often a huge copout and really a way of saying, “What I am communicating is actually personal, I just want you to be o.k. with it so I can be o.k. with it. I want to say it without you taking it to heart so I don’t have to take responsibility for the damage.”

It’s almost as if as long as you preface your statement with “Don’t take this personally…” you can get away with saying just about anything and the person is left to conclude that any offense or check in their spirit they feel in response is out of bounds and a sure sign their emotional pits are sweating with too much sensitivity.  I am sorry, did my jaws dropping or the veins popping out on my neck give it away? You just told me my face looks like my neck just threw up, and it’s nothing personal?

With God, there isn’t one thing He does, says, or initiates that doesn’t relate in some way to people. For God, it’s always personal. Love is personal, sin is personal, faith is personal, and the list goes on and on.

The problem with people and their relationship with Jesus isn’t that their relationship with Him is too personal, it’s that it’s not personal enough.

The problem with Church isn’t that it’s too personal, it’s that some times it’s not personal enough.

The problem within ministry and leadership cultures isn’t that things become too personal, it’s that they don’t become personal enough.

When we face tough conversations that require a bit of truth telling or hard discussions, maybe we should avoid the cop out road of “It’s nothing personal” and go with some better options.

Options like… “This hurts me as much to say, as it may be for you to hear it” or “I need to get something on the table here, but our relationship is so important to me that above all else, I really hope we can work this through” or “I am not sure I/we can say ‘yes’ to this right now, but I hope you don’t lose heart and feel like I/we have left your side or don’t believe in you” or “We need to move in a different direction, and I/we understand how your heart is connected to all of this on so many levels, so I/we hope if possible God can either show us how to move in this direction together or He will shows us the purposes and opportunity He has behind us going our separate ways, yet still connected in Christ.”

Finding the right words during and before hard conversations is tough stuff, but no matter what we do, maybe we need to take “It’s nothing personal” off the list of options. The moment we say, “It’s not personal” or “Don’t take this personally” is the moment we show just how personal it really is.

Why? Cause it’s always personal.

Is it Gossip or Not?

A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s fire.  -Anonymous

In the Book of Proverbs it reads… “Words have the power of life and death”   -Proverbs 18:21

For many of us, we underestimate this truth, we underestimate the power of words, and when it comes to our own words we underestimate the damage we can cause in people’s lives simply by the things we say. Often times, we miss realizing how something so effortless and easy as words could be so powerful, but it’s true, words have the power of life and death.

Think about the power of words. When God created the whole word, the Bible tells us that God actually spoke it into being, “…and God said, let there be light” With all creation, the moment God spoke it, it happened.

We underestimate the power of our words. So what happens?  At times we are careless with them, even reckless. We spend our words often as if they don’t count and don’t really matter.  However, Jesus taught the opposite.

Jesus spoke of the importance if words, as a matter of fact, they are so important that…

Matthew 12:36-37 says…
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Guys like king David in the Bible learned the power of words…

Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3, MSG

David realized these things called words are super powerful, and he’d better be careful. Words are powerful in ways that we could never imagine…

In fact…

o.o1 Words show exactly what’s in the heart.

Luke 6:45  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

You know there are really only two things we need to observe in a person’s life to get a good sense of the condition of their heart, one is there checkbook, (Jesus said where you treasure is, there will be your heart also) the other is the words they say, how they talk, what they say, and what they talk about. Words reveal the secret condition of the heart, people who trash talk, people who say mean things, people who gossip, people who use profanity first have a problem in their heart.

You can’t separate what people say and the condition of their heart, words mirror the heart. That’s how it works.

I remember the first church I pastored, there was this guy who looked all spiritual, everybody had the impression that he was some really great, faithful christian. He carried a bible around at all times, he has to be a super Christian right?  Well, one day he was helping to put some siding on one our buildings and he hit his thumb with the hammer. Out of his mouth came about every cuss word you could think of. Everybody was in shock.  What was deep within his heart was revealed in his words.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

If you go to church, think about church life. If you work, think about your office life. When you see people getting around their agendas and talking it up, people murmuring about what they don’t like going on and what they are going to do about, and people having little secret conversations about this person or that person, you know, there’s a pretty good chance, some sin is going on as some not good things from the heart are coming out in words.

In college, I use to curse like a sailor, but when God changed my heart, my words changed almost overnight.  Why?  Because words reveal the heart, you can’t get around it, it’s like the guy at the church who hit his thumb, eventually you are found out, your words give you away. As Jesus taught, how we talk, what we say when we talk, the kind of words we choose, and how we use words in life say more about the condition of our heart than perhaps anything else.

o.o2 Words powerfully influence our future

James 3:3-6  When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Here, James is teaching us that how we speak, what we say to our self, and the words we put out actually steer our lives, like a rudder steers a boat.

Jesus taught His disciples about the power of words one day while walking along the road when he cursed a fig tree. When they went back that same way the next morning, the tree had withered from the roots.

And then he told them, Mark 11:22-24 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

See, there is a very real and biblical sense that your future is tied into how you speak to yourself and to others. Imagine if we were to start speaking towards the kind of future we want to have. The Bible says we reap what we sow.  So, we can’t expect to be speaking words of death to ourselves and to others and then it result in a future full of life.  If all you are speaking is death into your marriage, or your children, or your church, or your work, or your health, or your self-worth, you can’t expect it to translate into a future full of life.

So, instead of letting the confessions of your heart and the words you speak be tainted with death, defeat, and doubt, they need to be anointed with the oil of faith, trust, hopefulness, and love. Words can have a powerful determination of your future. How do you expect your marriage to turn around when all you say to yourself and maybe even to your spouse is, “this is never going to get any better, I just don’t see this thing ever working out?” How do you expect your self-esteem and confidence to get any better when all you say to yourself and even to other people is “I’m too fat”  or  “I am not as good as they are” or  “I have made too many mistakes?”

We need to be speaking the Word of God and speaking from the Word of God into our life. Change your self talk, change the way you talk to others, and you can change your future and maybe theirs too.

o.o3 Words can make or break other people

When it comes to the words we speak, not only is our future at stake, but other people’s futures are at stake.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

What’s this saying? Our words are on of the most powerful weapons we  have for good or for bad, and the choice is ours.

If you are the kind of person that isn’t careful with your words, do you realize what your gossip and trash talking is doing? Do you have any sense of what your mean, hurtful words are causing?  There is almost nothing more powerful to hurt people, to hurt an organization, and to get in the way of God than gossip, trash talking, and talking negatively about people or things going on.

You say, “Well, how do I know if I am gossiping, or trash talking, how do I know if it is gossip or not?

Here is a way that has been helpful for me… T.H.I.N.K about what you are saying before you say it. If you answer “no” to any of the following, there is a pretty good chance that what you are about to say is gossip.

T-   Is it True?  Do you know for sure that what you are about to say is a fact?  Did you learn it first hand, and therefore it’s not just your own opinion or somebody else’s?  Have you spoken with that person directly and confirmed your assumptions? If not, you may need to just zip it.

H-  Is it Helpful? Is your talking about whatever it is going to help or hurt, make more problems or less problems, create conflict or solve it, or help the situation or make it worse?  Is what you are going to say speaking more about your agenda or God’s? Is it something that God wants you to say, or something you alone want to say?  If what you want to say isn’t going to help God, that person, or the situation, if it isn’t going to partner with the Holy Spirit, you may need to just zip it.

I-   Is it Inspiring?  Does it put that person in the best light and give the benefit of the doubt? Does it believe in the best, does it hope for the best? Does it promote wholesome talk or pollute it? Does it cause others to believe in the best, or does it cause others to conclude the worst.  If it assumes the worst, you may just need to zip it.

N-   Is it Necessary?  Does what you want to say really need to be said? Is it really anybody’s else’s business? Is it necessary for you to talk about?.  Should you be talking about it with other people when you haven’t even gone face to face with that person? If it isn’t completely necessary, you may just need to zip it.

K-   Is it Kind? Does it build, does it speak the truth in love? Are your words the same kind of words Jesus would say about that person?  Are your words motivated out of real love and wanting to see the best happen in that person’s life or the situation at hand?  If not, you may need to zip it.

Sure, there are moments when tough things absolutely need to be said, emotions need to be vented, and difficult situations dealt with. Jesus himself had some very tough conversations and some verbally poignant things to say to and about people. Some, that could even be considered hurtful and mean-spirited. At times, there is nothing politically correct, watered down, nor polished about Jesus and His use of words.  Yet, the over all principal remains…

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.



It really is true, words have great power.

Just ask the parents of Megan Mier, a 13 year old who was bullied on myspace with words. Message after message was sent to her by one particular boy, messages like, “The world would be a better place without you.”  The words got so bad and destructive that in her room one afternoon, she hung herself with tears in her eyes.

We can use words to harm people or to heal people. Never underestimate the power of words. The choice is ours. Jesus used words to do the miraculous, and He commands us to do the same.

“I can live two months on a good compliment.” –Mark Twain

What I Love and Hate about Facebook

I don’t even know where to begin with this post other than to say, there are some super great things about Facebook, and then some super not so good things about it.  It’s really not Facebook itself that I am speaking of, though the opportunity the platform and technology creates is a significant part of the mix, but rather what people do with Facebook that’s at the heart of my observations.

What I love…

1) Facebook gives an opportunity to connect with people you might not otherwise be able to locate and connect with. 

The way God can be honored by bringing relationships together is amazing. I have made contact with people that, apart from Facebook, would have been extremely difficult to do at best.  What a powerful tool God can use to connect, reconnect, and build some great relationships. I believe God supports how Facebook can be a powerful tool for interacting and connecting with people.

2) Facebook can bring out the best in people and provide a powerful way to encourage and love.  

I have witnessed many people use Facebook as a way to encourage and help people through the power of words and information.  It even seems that Facebook allows the nicer side of people to come out more than they might be willing to show it in person. For those who are more introverted, Facebook provides a way for them to come out of their shell and communicate in ways and levels they may not otherwise. In a positive way, Facebook provides a kind of safety zone from which people can seem to feel more at ease with sharing themselves with people in a caring, expressive way. Furthermore, Facebook provides yet another powerful way to love, encourage, and care for a person anytime, anywhere.

3) Facebook provides an opportunity to put ones faith in Christ on display.

Many people are resistant and shy when it comes to sharing their faith.  However, once again, Facebook provides a kind of context where people can do so in ways that are less intimidating and fearful.  The positive, faith-filled person you aren’t as likely to be in direct contact with people is the kind of person you can feel better at displaying in a context like Facebook. Facebook is a great tool to share your faith and help others see how God is working in your life in an inspirational way.  I am deeply thankful for the many opportunities I have had through Facebook to share and encourage others in discovering and having faith in Christ.

What I hate…

1) Facebook is a place you can easily fake it

Facebook provides an easy context to be someone you are not and to have relationships that really aren’t real.  When you can custom edit and tailor every interaction, you can give the impression you are something that in truth, you really aren’t.  Furthermore, relationships can be more crafted and contrived than real and personal. When your primary connection with that person is on facebook and thus there is a lot of  real life interaction that is left to the imagination, you can make a person (and a relationship) to be something in your mind that they aren’t in real life. Facebook for some people can easily become Fakebook. They say, 60% of communication is nonverbal.  I would guess that means there is a lot of communication that’s missing a lot of communication going on, on Facebook.

2) Facebook brings out the coward in people

Facebook provides a context where you can say just about anything and not be held accountable for your words. It truly can become a campground for cowards.  Just by commenting on another person’s post, you can make insinuations, conjectures, and comments that may not even be seen by the person they are directed to, nor may that person ever be afforded the opportunity to respond. And even if they were, would it even be in their best interest to do so anyways? Furthermore, what is said doesn’t have to be true or based on anything credible.

People who are cowards and can’t say something to someone’s face often say it on Facebook.  Yes, this kind of gossip, slanderous, and preschool way of relating happens in other realms of life, but Facebook has a way of pouring gasoline on it. Where positive things can go viral on Facebook, so can evil things. Satan loves this aspect of Facebook.

For this reason, Facebook is not a healthy place to air personal grievances towards people, promote your disgruntlement, publish your problems with a person, try to handle conflict, or make insinuations, conjectures, or assumptions about others.  I can pretty much guarantee, very little if any relational problems were ever resolved through Facebook. In fact, they were likely made worse. Why? Because nothing face to face ever happens on facebook. Oh sweet irony.

Facebook unfortunately doesn’t often magnify the reality that we are great at relationships, it often magnifies the fact that we stink at them. It’s so easy to hide behind facebook and never truly show our true face. It’s easy to inject a toxic comment, feel the satisfaction of blowing our wad, and then let the status-update circus begin all while we close our laptop, pull the blinds, and open a bag of Cheese Puffs with our legs propped up on the couch.

3) Facebook attracts drama

People who love drama become addicted to Facebook. Facebook is to drama what Jerry Springer is to stupid people. It gives the perfect platform for them to be more stupid and more dramatic than they have ever been before while everybody gets to watch. For some people, they can’t use the toilet without it becoming their status update. Now there is an Instagram for ya!  If they lack attention, they post a “feel-sorry-for-me-my-life-is-so-bad” kind of status.  If they are bored, they find a way to stir up the pot. Every emotion, every attitude, every thought, every problem, every issue is put on public display.

What some people enjoy about Facebook is the fact that for them it’s become an interactive soap opera,where at the least, they can have a front stage seat, and if they want, they can be the daytime star.  No, they would  probably never admit it, but when you see someone who is emotionally glued to whatever is or isn’t happening on Facebook, you know there’s likely some serious drama lust going on.                               

On Facebook, you can live the dream… you can write, produce, direct, and star in your own interactive soap opera. And it’s all free!

O.k., now it’s time for me to end this and… get back on Facebook.

 

 

                                      

 

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