★ Re|Engage – Communication ★

ReEngage - Lesson 09The reading for the next two sections focused on this Principle:  Give Yourself Away.  Not something that many of us willingly want to do.  This is the midpoint of the class where things change.  The first 8 lessons were all about explaining the gospel and how it relates to marriages, the next 8 lessons are all about the practical response to the Gospel.

Lesson 9 was about Communication with this main:

“The goal of communication is mutual understanding. You have negative communication patterns that you need to identify and change.”

The goal is “Mutual Understanding.”  To understand someone else you need to actually listen to them right?  If your spouse was asked, if you were a good listener, what do you think they would they say?  Do you think you are a Good Listener?

Stephen Covey made a profound statement about this, he said:

“Most People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 

If we want to improve our marriage, good communication is key!  To achieve that, we need to be a good listener to understanding where the other person is coming from.  From the reading, they said,

“The goal of communication is not to get your point across, show that you are right or to win an argument. The goal of communication is mutual understanding.”

It is the difference between arguing versus understanding.  When we are communicating with our spouse, there are many things that can cause conflict and misunderstandings.

One of the most commonly cited studies on communication is from the 1970s.  Professor Albert Mehrabian studied the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages in personal communication.  The study concluded that the:

ReEngage - Lesson 09 - Elements of Personal Communication

The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they do not align.  He concluded that, if words and body language disagree, the body language will be believed over whatever is spoken.

Another area that can cause misunderstandings are the “non-present” forms of communication.

  • In this world of emails and texting, not being in-person to read the body language, we can easily “misread” the intentions of the other person.
  • This used to be true with just phone calls upon this new mode of communication takes it to a whole other level, where things can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
  • You can read into things that really aren’t there.

James 1:19b is a famous quote about communication:

This by far is the best advice anyone could heed.  Verse 20 gives us the justification on the why.

“for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

If we want to be more like Jesus, then we need to follow the advice, and understand that when our communication pattern is not in alignment, we are dishonoring God as verse 20 shows us.

The lesson focused on four common ways that couples communicate poorly.

Negative Communication Patterns. 

1.  WITHDRAW AND AVOID.

“Withdrawal is an unwillingness to get into or stick with important discussions.”

It could just be that you leave the room in the middle of a conversation or shutting down emotionally.

“Avoidance is choosing to not address tough issues or have conversations that could be difficult.”

Or just sweeping it under the rug.

A better way:  Need to stick with conversations when they happen. If your spouse is the one that withdraws, the lesson had a very practical question to ask…

“What is it about me that makes it hard for you to communicate with me?

2.  ESCALATE.

“Escalation occurs when you respond negatively toward your spouse in the conversation continues to get more and more hostile.”

One thing that was interesting to me was that, escalation isn’t just yelling at each other but it’s also the subtle things like sarcasm, name-calling, threats and other forms of attack as well.

A better way:  “The best thing that you can do is take a timeout before things get out of hand and then decide what time you’re reconvene.”

“The goal of the timeout is to keep yourself from damaging the relationship and take time to gather yourself so you can come back in a better frame of mind, ready to talk about the issue.”

3.  NEGATIVELY INTERPRET.

“Negative interpretation happens when you assign a motive to your spouse that is more negative than is really the case.”

“Often times this is caused when there is some insecurity or if veiled comments were common in the family growing up.”

A better way: “You combat negative interpretation by believing the best about your spouse.”

I heard somewhere that “90% of all friction is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”

4.  Invalidate.

“Invalidation occurs when you directly or indirectly dismiss, minimize or put down the thoughts, feelings or character of your spouse.”

A better way:  “Remember that the goal of communication is to understand rather than being right.”

Proverbs 14:29 (NLT) says,

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this Life Lesson on this verse,

“It may feel good for a short while to vent out fury at someone but “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)  Responding to bitterness with more bitterness leads only to a combative and even more explosive situation.”

What do you think about that quote?  Do you believe that responding to bitterness with more bitterness will lead to a more explosive situation?  What has been your experience?

The book made this great point….

“The way you communicate with your spouse will have a big impact on the quality of your marriage.”

Romans 12:18 (ESV)

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Boy that is so hard to do sometimes but heeding this will pay dividends!!  The takeaway from Romans 12:18 is that

“Communication is an opportunity to honor God and do everything you can to “live peaceably” with your spouse.”

Again, “The goal ultimately is mutual understanding.”

Guard your tongue and your tone.

“Faith is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.  The same is true for developing Positive Communication Patterns; the more you practice it, the stronger your marriage will be.”

If you would like to read more on guarding your tongue, check out this previous post called ★ Thought for the Day –  Our Tongues Should Point People to Jesus ★.


If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here . . .
★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ 

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Five Truths That Will Change Your Life! ★

69 - Daily Dependence - 5 TruthsI know this is a bold claim but I believe it is true if you will have an open mind to what you are about to read. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines truths as:

1. Sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2. The state of being the case :  fact
3. A transcendent fundamental : spiritual reality

Truths are indisputable facts that transcend what the latest thought that is trending on Twitter. They are black and white, that are constant and do not change as a passing fad. In this fast pace, pleasure driven, my way or the highway world we live in, beliefs in absolute truths have become the exception, rather than the norm, but if you accept these 5 Spiritual Truths, I promise your life will be forever changed!
I have shared in previous posts how remote God was in my life, not because of Him but as a result of being hurt by people in the church.  As I think of my self absorbed teenage years and early twenties, God was way, way down on the list…if He even was on there.  Except for the obligatory Easter and Christmas Mass, I never was present in church.  But Jesus gives us our first truth in Matthew 6:33 (NLT) of what will happen if we do place a priority on God…

God and what He cares about should be ahead of everything else, if we do, everything else will be added to us.  Too often we have it backwards, we chase after everything and God comes last, if at all.  Part of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount, Matthew 6:33 is a great scripture to stand on.  I have always loved this verse, but the Message translation of this passage has opened my eyes to see this bit different…

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” 
 

When God is first, He promises to meet our needs!  Where else do you get that kind of guarantee??
69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #2 - Realize that You are NOT a Good Person????
Ouch, that ones hurts doesn’t it??  But it’s true, (that includes me also.)  John 3:16-17 (NLT) says,

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
 

Until you realize that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and accept Jesus, as payment for your sins, your life will remain in brokenness and you will be separated from God.

If you want to learn more about this and how to have a relationship with Jesus, check out the post called,  ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

Francis Chan breaks down our second truth why “being good” just doesn’t cut it…Watch it!

 

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #3 - Life is Not Always Going to Be Easy
Amen??  I don’t have to say much to convince you of that right?  Even if you have accepted truth #1 and #2, that does not make you immune from trouble or pain. Are you suffering today?  Aching from being hurt by someone’s betrayal or persecuted for something you did not do?  You are not alone, the Bible recounts in Genesis how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to then be wrongly accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison…BUT God used these horrible betrayals that people inflicted, and elevated Joseph to second-in-command of all of Egypt.  Our #3 Truth comes from Genesis 50:20 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 50-20 - God Intended it for GoodI love that, what was “intended to harm me,” was used by God to “save the lives of many people.”  We cannot see the whole picture, God is always working and you never know how God will turn a bad situation around.  What is interesting is that early on in Joseph’s teenage years, he was given incredible dreams of what God’s plan for his future was going to be, but he had to go through a season of struggle first before he was able to step into his destiny that God had planned for him.  Psalms 105:19 (NLT) gives us insight into Joseph’s life.

“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the lord tested Joseph’s character.”

Genesis 50:20 is one of my favorite verses that illustrates that even in the worst circumstances God can use the pain to produce something great!  It is the Old Testament parallel verse to the often quoted passage from Romans 8:28 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Romans 8-28“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

God can bring something good out of any situation.  He causes everything to work together for the good.  Trust Him to use your current situation to mold you into something beautiful!  God can and will turn any trial into a triumph!!!

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #4 - Put on Your Armor
Wars are won or lost based on your defensive capabilities, so we need to make sure we are equipped for the battle.  Spiritual warfare is very real! You don’t have to live too long on this earth before you’ll find out that there will be trouble from those around you.  People will hurt you, betray you, cheat on you…you name it.  There is evil in this world and we need to be aware of it.  (You can read more about this in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – All the Time in the World ★.)  There is a war is occurring in the “unseen” realms as our #4 Truth warns us that we need to put on “The Whole Armor of God.”  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) says, 

There is a battle raging on the enemy of our souls, the Devil will use every weapon in his arsenal to take us out.  The challenging part is to realize the attack as it is happening.  The Devil is a deceiver and master of lies, so often the attack will come in the form of voices in our own mind, that will lead us to believe the wrong thing.  Bob Hamp said made this powerful statement,

“Spiritual Warfare is the battle in which you choose which voice to listen to in the midst of your experiences.”

So what voice will you believe?  The lies screamed by Satan or the still small voice of God?  I encourage you to continue to read Ephesians 6:13-17 that goes into all the Armor of God (which one day I will write a Thought for the Day on.)

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #5 - There is hope!
The things we go through in this life are temporary, but Jesus promises us that we can have peace because of what He did for us on the cross.  John 16:33 (NLT) says,
69 - Daily Dependence - John 16-33 - Oval Alt

We all go through different storms in this life, whether relational, financial or physical health, but no matter the storm, the answer, and the solution are the SAME… Lean into God and rely on His strength.  Arm yourself with Bible verses that you can speak out loud and pray, when doubts and worries creep in.  If you want to read more about God’s presence in the midst of the storm, check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.  I promise you will never be disappointed that you did! 

Continue reading

★ Act Like Men – “Paul’s Clarity” ★

Day 20 - Paul's Clarity

Daily Dependence - Section 3 - Stand Firm in the FaithI love the start of this study!

“Keeping the faith is not a two-minute drill; it’s a long obedience and faithfulness over years.” 

In our got to have it now, microwave culture, the idea of anything lasting more than 30 seconds seems to be an antiquated ideal.  But keeping the faith is…

“Consistent trust in Christ.… Protecting it from distortion…[and] Passing it on to others.  Faith doesn’t grow or deepen when we cower in secrecy. Faith strengthens as we go public.”

That is a great summary of “how” to keep the faith. I love the final part especially, that our “Faith strengthens as we go public.”  Going Public about Faith in Jesus, is an area that many people, men and women alike have great difficulty doing. Whether it’s an inferiority complex, doubt about what to say, or just plain laziness, many people will not speak up about their beliefs. The Apostle Paul  however, is a great example that if we want to “Act Like Men,” and become more like Jesus, then we need to step out of our comfort zone!

“For Paul, standing firm in the faith meant keeping it personal, keeping it pure, and keeping it going. Through his suffering, God gave him an immense clarity about what keeping the faith is all about.”

How about you?

Here is the next installment. . .★ Act Like Men – “Clarity In Conflict” ★

or

If you want to read previous Act Like Men posts click here.

 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Keeping up with the Joneses? ★ 

I am about to date myself…Do you remember the TV series “Home Improvement?”  It aired from 1991–1999 and was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards.  Each week, I looked forward to seeing what mess Tim Taylor would get himself in to.  As the clumsy, uncoordinated TV show host of “Tool Time”, Tim Taylor (who was played by Tim Allen,) would get himself into hot water all the time, either with his wife, his kids or the flannel sporting co-host, Al Borland.  After each fight, Tim would find himself in the backyard looking over the fence for his neighbor Wilson to get some sage advice and wisdom.  And all the time, Tim would walk away with a new perspective on the circumstance.  Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to tidy up our mess in the span of 30 minutes?

As we delve into this Thought for the Day, I think many of the messes we find ourselves in, are actually a result of looking over the fence.  Unlike Tim Taylor, when we are looking over the fence at what other people possess, we can set ourselves up for trouble.  When I was in college, any class that I took that dealt with Marketing was always a favorite!  It continually amazes me how a slogan, TV commercial or catchy jingle can move people from not even being aware of a product, to absolutely having to have it…But consumers need to be aware and understand the power that marketing has on our buying decisions.  We need to be wise and avoid “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

68 - Daily Dependence -Keeping up with the Joneses

Let me ask you…Are you content with your life??  Or what I really want to know, are you content with what God is doing in your life?  Let that permeate your spirit for a moment and be honest with yourself.  If you answered no, then you are not alone, I have struggled with this myself so many times; not being content with the speed of paying off debt or building up of my savings or that the process is so hard.  This has led me to get so focused and consumed that at times I lose sight of my peace and joy.  I heard a great message from Dr. Tony Evans a while ago called “Reversing the Financial Curse”, he said:

"The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don't treat the resource like it's the source."
“The greatest truth I can give you is that God is your source.  No man is my Source, on his best day, he is a resource.  Don’t treat the resource like it’s the source.”

We all want to be financially stable and have some margin between us and life.  To be able to have more money at the end of the month than bills and to even be able to enjoy life a little but we need to learn contentment when things do not happen as quickly as we would wish.  Speaking from experience, I want to encourage you that as you are working on achieving Financial Peace, by building some cushion in your finances, a.k.a. an emergency fund, DO NOT let that become your “source” of security.  Remember that God is the source, and the emergency fund is just a resource.  It is important that we build an emergency fund, as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches, but do not treat God as a resource to get a larger emergency fund…understand that HE is the source.  Trust in Him to be your provider and not on yourself, your bank account or your 401K.  To read more on this, check out a previous post called…★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★

Charles Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” has some about great insight about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions.  He talked about Paul’s imprisonment and quoted Philippians 4:10-13:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Charles Stanley put it this way, that “Paul learned the secret of being content in and through circumstances. It wasn’t the secret of changing – or getting God to change – his circumstances.  Paul meant I can endure any circumstance without losing my peace and my joy because of the strength I gain through my relationship with Christ.”

According to Dr. Stanley there are 3 truths to have contentment:

  1. Contentment hinges on what’s happening inside us not around us. When we become discontented, the first two things we lose are our peace and joy.  But the bible teaches that peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit.  As long as our contentment can be destroyed by a change in our environment, we can never be content in any circumstance.
  1. Contentment is need, not want oriented.  God will meet our needs; He is going to take care of us.  Much of our discontentment stems from not getting what we want.  God has not promised to meet our wants but our needs.  He goes on to say, ask yourself this question: Is God meeting my needs?  If the answer is yes, stop and thank Him.  Don’t allow your emotions to attach themselves to your wants.
  1. Contentment is trusting God even when things seem out of control.  Discontentment on the other hand, is really a lack of faith in God’s love and concern for us.  Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  When things around Paul fell apart, he kept trusting God.  And consequently Paul was content.

He went on to say, if you look at the flip side of contentment that is Dis-contentment. Discontentment clouds our decision-making process, making it almost impossible to wait.”  The emotions that accompany discontentment are so strong that they often override reason.  People in marketing understand this all too well. Just think about it, part of any effective advertising campaign is to make potential customers discontented with their existing product.  These feelings that accompany discontentment are enough to make people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.  Dave Ramsey made this hysterical statement,

“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” 

Keeping up with the Joneses is futile and can steal our peace and joy.  Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University class that we need to develop the “power over purchase.”

“You can buy FUN but you cannot buy HAPPINESS.  Happiness is contentment where you are right now.”

If we could grasp this, we would be happier, and would have more peace and security.  Sometimes though, it’s not just about wanting as nice of a car as your neighbor, but rather, the fear or anxiety of keeping a roof above your head and food on the table.  Whenever I have seen Hebrews 13:5 quoted, it is always the second half of the verse (see the underlined portion below), but it is interesting to see the first part in context.

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said,
I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.’”  Hebrews 13:5

Context is everything!  Could God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit be trying to convey a spiritual truth that we can trust Him in our finances?  Most definitely yes!  When we love money and are NOT content with God’s provision, only trouble will result, replacing peace and joy with anxiety and fear.  Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Steven Furtick made this profound statement about this verse…

“One of the reasons we’re so anxious about what’s coming, is because we’re not thankful enough for what we have.  And so Paul says if all you ever pray about is what you need but never stop and thank God for what you have, you’ll always be anxious.” 

Verse 7 of Philippians goes on to say,

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We all want the “peace of God” in verse 7 but to get that, we need to first go through verse 6, and be thankful for what God has provided for us.  It is all about having the right perspective with our priorities aligned with God’s.  Proverbs 30:7-9 (NLT) is one of my absolute favorite verses on this subject.

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.  First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! 

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

How different would our lives be if we embraced this wisdom?  Do you know who is the wisest human being that ever lived?  No, it is not our president or any other modern-day leader.  It is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or any other celebrity.  The wisest man who ever lived was King Solomon.  His Wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:29-30 (NIV1984)

“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”

So if the source of his Wisdom is from God, then he must have some good advice when it comes to contentment right?  Look at what the wisest man has to say Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 (NLT)

“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards…I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women…I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces…I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure…But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

Wow!  That is an eye opener…Look at that underlined part…Solomon “had everything a man could desire!”  And in the end he concluded that accumulating possessions was “meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

And the reason being is what Howard Dayton said,

No amount of stuff is going to give you contentment or fulfillment.  Do you want to know what is the antidote is to discontentment?  Helping others!  Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)  says,

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

So the next time you are looking over the fence, look at how you can help your neighbor, instead of coveting their possessions, because God desires our priorities to be in alignment with His…It’s the people in the big houses that are important not what’s in it.  1 Timothy 6:6 gives us this promise,

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

As you move further along on the journey, keep these thoughts on the sticky side of your brain so that when the enemy rushes in with his lies, you can combat him with the truth which Proverbs 3:5-10 so perfectly reminds us…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Keep pressing on and looking up, to “THE ONE” who will help you reach Financial Peace!  God Bless!

If you are interested in learning more about managing your finances God’s way, check out this post called…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★.

Continue reading