Conquering the Inner Enemies of Our Soul

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When we think of enemies, we tend to gravitate towards the physical enemies that stand out in society; murderers, rapists, terrorists, evil leaders; but enemies go deeper into the realm of our hearts where fear, control and doubts can rule our lives.

So an overall definition of enemies is anything ruling your life aside from the Lord Almighty and His Holy Spirit within us. Listen to David’s words that are true for us and our inner enemies as well as for the physical outward enemies and the spiritual unseen enemy forces all around us:

Psalm 18: 1-3

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I have been saved from my enemies.

This is David’s song to God after he was saved from his enemies. King Saul had become David’s enemy not because David had wronged Saul in any way but because of Saul’s jealousy toward David. David was choosing to do all the “right” things all the while as Saul was trying to kill him. He treated Saul as the anointed king that God had appointed him to. Instead of killing him when he had the chance in the cave, he did the right thing. And he submitted to Saul’s authority when his soldiers had the chance to kill Saul and he commanded them not to. In this way, by submitting and obeying God and his anointed authority over him, God found favor in David.

David says, “he rescued me because he was pleased with me and delighted in me. David’s choice to honor and love God by his submission to King Saul was in essence putting himself under God’s authority; his protection, his provision, his favor.

Verses 39-41 in Psalm 18 tell us of God’s provision and protection: “You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. What kind of “strength” does God arm us with to fight those inner enemies? He gives us courage to take action and conquer fear. God humbles us and helps us to stay humble and submit to his authority and his appointed authorities in the world. He give us wisdom to know when and what we are in control of and what is not in our control. The Lord grows our faith as we submit to and obey him, therefore eradicating the doubts in our heart and minds.

David makes it clear in his statement in verse 36, “You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. God’s pathway is the only way to living as He intended and being able to conquer the enemies within our souls.  I am reminded of a smooth cobble stone pathway. Path to God conquers enemy God’s pathway of smoothed out rocks leading us in His direction. Each of those rocks in the pathway are those things God provides when we stay on His path. There are rocks of trust,love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There are rocks of purity, righteousness, humility, courage, perseverance and on and on. We stay on this path and God provides all this and more. He gives us what we need to conquer the inner enemies.

I am reminded of the latest song by Jeremy Camp called My Defender. When we trust in God and put ourselves under his authority and his appointed authorities in the world, he defends us. We are able to conquer the enemies of our soul.

If you aren’t on that pathway of God’s or you keep veering off of it, please seek help with God, your pastor, trusted friend or a Christian Temperament Counselor that can help you see what your enemies are within you and give you the guidance you need to be living as a victorious child of God.

My Top Five Overlooked Things To Be Thankful For

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It’s easier for those things like family and friends that come to mind that we are thankful for but what about the ones that we have to dig for. Here are my top five overlooked things to be thankful for to get you thinking about your own things that may need to be dug out.

I am thankful for…

  1. the trees that have been carved into tables and chairs that we will sit around this Thanksgiving Day.
  2. the farmers, field workers, truckers, grocery store workers and all who give their time and talent towards giving us the convenience of shopping for our food for our dinner on this Thanksgiving Day.
  3. the homeless shelters and those serving and giving to provide the food for all the homeless on this Thanksgiving Day.
  4. the Pilgrims and Indians for setting aside differences and coming together in gratitude, giving us an example to follow on that first Thanksgiving Day.
  5. the five senses that God has given us to take in the smell of pumpkin spice, the sight of smiling faces, the sound of joyful laughter, the touch of gentle hugs and the taste of our Thanksgiving dinner on this Thanksgiving Day.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. Psalm 136:1thankful for all

Lord, indeed, you are good and have given us untold blessings throughout the ages. You’ve provide the trees for the tables and chairs, the fortitude, imagination and heart of men and women that have served others throughout the world. You’ve inspired the hearts of men to give and serve those who have less and given us the example with the Pilgrims and Indians but most especially with the example, your son, Jesus has done for us. And to sum it all up, you have given us so much goodness for our five senses to take in. Lord, my prayer is we all can respond back to you by pouring out of us all the praise and thanksgiving to You today, this Thanksgiving Day and all the days to come.

thankful for all

The Challenges of Sharing Needs with Others

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The challenges of sharing needs with others is complicated. Sharing your needs with others is not easy for some. Imagine if you had a computer screen on your chest that had it clearly typed out what your current highest need is. What would it say? Unfortunately, the truth is we don’t have the monitor that can clearly express a need we are having. We have to express it by our words. Sharing Needs is Challenging

How difficult is it to share our needs with others? For the Melancholy in Control, you may be less inclined to share because your need to appear competent and in control will take precedence. Or perhaps you are a Supine in Affection who has a fear of rejection which may be controlling you from expressing your need for love. Maybe your a Choleric in Inclusion and will only express your need when it will accomplish a goal you have. Are some needs more difficult to share than others? A Melancholy in Affection will most likely only share with the deepest relationships which are very few.

On the flip side, how hard is it for us to see another’s need and respond to it? It takes an other-centeredness that takes time and the Lord’s work in you to obtain. Going from “me, myself and I” to you can be a long bumpy journey. But learning to set aside our own needs and pour out love on others is exactly what Jesus tells us to do.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

For some the challenge of sharing their needs with others is simply being able to communicate it. Perhaps, you don’t have a handle on what your needs are exactly and therefore, you don’t have the words to use. Understanding your temperament is a good first start in being able to articulate your needs to others in your life so they aren’t left guessing.

The Trouble with Unexpressed Needs

When needs are not expressed, others are often left with the clues you may or may not give in your body language, moods and behaviors. But letting others try to figure out what we need can lead to problems. There are three primary ways a person may use to respond to another person when they aren’t sure of what their need is. We guess, ignore or avoid.

Guessing is making assumptions and jumping to conclusions based on what you see without having all the facts. Let’s say you see a friend at a social function who is sitting off by herself. You automatically assume that maybe she’s upset about something which may be why she’s off by herself and not engaging in conversation with others. How do we know this is true? We don’t. This guessing game is a conscience response without all the knowledge you need to make the wisest and loving choice. A lack of understanding a person’s true need can lead to misunderstanding, confusion and missed opportunities. Sharing needs is challenging

Ignoring a person in need is another response that is an automatic response from your subconscious. Often it is from some tendency we have within our own temperaments, that will bend toward the weakness side. We allow it to reign over us controlling what we do and say. Perhaps we see that same friend and instead of assumptions coming to mind, we ignore the data our eyes are showing us and are choosing to not engage. Instead, we are going to a large group of women already in conversation and becoming the center of attention to get our need met. A Saguine in Inclusion would fall into this sinful trap.

The third response you may see is the avoidance response. We see the friend but we are feeling our energy depleted and don’t want to engage because that would further deplete our already low fuel tank. The Phlegmatic temperament in all areas can make expressing our needs or reaching out to others for their needs very challenging.

Needs Can Be Met and Expressed with an intimate Connection with God

The good news is we have a God of the impossible who is able to help us meet others needs and at the same time satisfy all of our own needs. It’s all done through his son, Jesus who came to show us the way to reconcile ourselves back to God and be in the restored right relationship with Him that he always intended.

The more we are connected to the Holy Spirit within us, the better we will be able to be able to reach out and meet others needs. It helps to have knowledge of how God has created us all so fearfully and wonderfully. Knowing all the temperament needs and ultimately knowing the specific temperament needs of those you interact with the most will be a positive life changer. If your ready to learn more about your own temperament or are struggling with a relationship within your family, I would be honored to teach you about how God wired you and your loved ones. I offer individual, marriage and family counseling and have classes on temperament. Prayerfully consider and contact me to get something in the works.

Are We Spreading the Hope or Is Our Light Dimmed?

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Are we spreading the hope or is our light dimmed? I contemplated this as I read from a devotional this morning that is based on hymns. The particular hymn had the three most important words of all time, “He is risen.” The writer elaborated on the fact that the disciples and all the followers of Jesus were in the darkest hours of their lives. They had Jesus among them, teaching, healing, loving and forgiving. They had hope.  And then he was gone.

How their hope must have been crushed. The darkness of the world suddenly was all around them again and they were being consumed by it. Like a candle in a room suddenly blown out by the wind. They had lost their only hope. How often do we as believers lose that hope? There is no saying “I have never lost hope” for the battle within us between sin and death and life and Jesus is very real within us. We can lose hope when we allow the enemy in. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 “The enemy comes to kill and steal and destroy. My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.”

This is why those three most important words of all time are so vital for us to hear over and over again. We need to remind ourselves and be reminded by others that Jesus has won. The victory is his. He conquered death and sin and has given us new life with him.

The problem is the sin within us is still fighting back. The enemy doesn’t want you to be one of the many bright lights in this world. He wants to douse the flame of the Holy Spirit and make us lose hope.

It is hard to imagine life without Jesus. The early followers of Jesus who knew him as a man were in the darkest place. The hope they had in Jesus was gone but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet to help them see the truth that Jesus had lived and spoken to them.

Lost and Found

I was reminded of the stories Jesus told us of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. In each of these stories, something was lost and when it was found, there was great celebration. The followers of Jesus had lost the greatest hope of all in Jesus. So, when the angel told the women at the tomb, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen just as he said.” The women’s response is telling of the battle within us. Matthew 28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Their joy overcame their fear. It spurred them to run. Their hope was alive. They chose at that moment not to doubt the angel and the evidence of the empty tomb. They chose to believe that Jesus was alive. They didn’t see him but they believed. Hope is found

We don’t typically see angels, nor hear their words in this day and age. But the truth is that God has a whole army of believers in Jesus who believe. We, as believers, are God’s hands and feet. He speaks to us through each other. Has there been a friend who has reminded you of Jesus and that he is alive? Have words from a family member or co-worker pointed you back to Jesus?

Words of Hope

He is risen! Let these words ring through your ears and onto your voice as you shout, sing and proclaim the hope of the world has conquered sin and death and has given you new life. Jesus may have seemed lost by those early disciples but then he rose from the dead. What was lost to them had returned and it was reason to celebrate. The light is back.

It’s not Easter time but these words need to be heard all year long. He is risen! Let these words remind you of the hope you have in him.

If you are finding yourself back in that dark place and need some guidance, please talk to a pastor, friend or counselor like myself.

 

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Word Pictures at Work in Real Life

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In the last couple of posts, I have talked about Word Pictures and how effective they can be. Now, let’s look at some word pictures at work in real life. I will start with my own word picture I put together and used on my preschool class that I teach.

I have a couple of students that tend to be pushing physical boundaries mostly without intention to hurt but nevertheless, pushing into someone’s boundary. Talking about boundaries to preschoolers was definitely not going to work. So, after learning about the steps in putting together your own word picture, I decided that this situation called for one. One little boy was pushing, pulling and grabbing one particular friend in the class that was starting to get mad when he pushed into his boundary. Here’s the story I told them:

A Story about a Bubble

There was a little bubble named Blue. He started at a new school and was loving playing with his new friends. But one day as he was playing, a friend came up from behind him and grabbed him. When this friend invaded his space without any thought to how Blue felt, he popped. The little bubble burst. He was mad and hurt because his space around him was invaded and his bubble was broke.

Blue pushed him back and ran. The next day Blue was playing on the playground when this same friend grabbed his arm pulling on him. His bubble burst again because his space around him had been invaded. Everyday Blue’s space kept being invaded and he would burst. He tried pushing the friend away. He tried yelling “stop it”. He even tried biting him and hitting him back but the friend kept invading Blue’s space, breaking his bubble and making him mad.

Blue began to avoid playing with this friend. He would run away from him if he got too close. The friend wasn’t the kind of friend Blue wanted. He didn’t want a friend who would keep invading his space, popping his bubble and making him mad. He would rather play with the other bubbles who were gentle, not wild; who were thoughtful and kind and could control themselves and stay out of his space. He wanted friends who wouldn’t break his bubble.

We are like Blue. We are like a bubble. We each have this invisible space around us and when others push or grab us or even try to give us a hug when we weren’t asked it can make our bubbles pop and make us mad.

God is kind and he wants us to grow and become kind like him. Does God want us breaking others bubbles? No. Does God want us to use our anger and invade the other bubble’s space? No. God wants each of us to learn to not burst bubbles and how to handle our anger if someone bursts our bubble. God also knows we can’t do it on our own and so he gave us the Holy Spirit.

When you choose to believe that Jesus died for your sins and saved you from being separated from God forever; when you choose him; he sends the Holy Spirit to live in you. He lives in us to help us be kind, to help us have self-control, to help us be gentle and a whole lot more.

Are you a bubble who needs God’s help to go from wild to gentle; to from out-of-control to thoughtful and in control? Or are you a bubble who gets angry and pushes back? Are you the bubble that needs God’s help to control your anger, to use gentle words and to seek extra help from an adult if you need it?

Think about what kind of bubble do you want to be and seek God to help you be that kind of bubble; that kind of friend. Word Pictures at work

An Experiment with Bubbles

All of the kids were engaged with the story including the two particular kids this was targeting. Now, it was time to do an experiment to see if they got it. I told them I was going to blow some bubbles but they would need to have self-control, patience and gentleness.  They would need to sit on the carpet in their spots and not reach to try to grab the bubbles, nor stand up. This would take self-control and patience to wait for the bubbles to come near. Lastly, I had them practice gentleness and had them simply hold out there hands palms up, waiting for the bubbles to come to them. Doing all of these things would keep everyone’s bubble from getting popped. We pray first and proceeded with the experiment. They did amazing! They got it and understood so much more about boundaries.

The next day at parent/teacher conferences, this story and activity came up with the parents of the child with the boundary issues. They said, his brother came up behind him and gave him a big bear hug and he proclaimed to him, “You popped my bubble!”. In the days since, this child has been respecting boundaries so much more and has only needed a “remember the bubble story” reminder.

A Couple Other Word Pictures Examples

From Walking in Freedom by Neil T. Anderson & Rich Miller is a word picture that speaks of gaining our freedom in Christ and keeping it. “One victim of incredible atrocities shared this illustration: “It’s like being forced to play a game with an ugly stranger in my own home. I kept losing and wanted to quit, but the ugly stranger wouldn’t let me. Finally I called the police (a higher authority), and they came and escorted the stranger out. He knocked on the door trying to regain entry, but this time I recognized his voice and didn’t let him in.”

In the book titled Under Cover by John Bevere, he is explaining how if believers live by the cultural mind-set towards authority, they will “be at best ineffective and at worst positioned for danger. He goes on to say, “Our provision as well as protection could be blocked or even cut off as we disconnect ourselves from the Source of true life. It could be likened to playing baseball in life while God is directing a football championship. We could compare it to attempting the use of an electric appliance without plugging it into the power source.

We can find word pictures over and over again in books of all kinds. They truly can be very effective at getting your point across and letting it really sink in. In writing a book, you have the advantage of planning and re-working the wording to be just right. It’s all intention and effort.

If we want to communicate something to someone effectively, it will take that same intention and effort a writer uses along with inspiration and guidance from the one who can help us with all things, our Lord God.

Having trouble in your communication with your spouse, boss, employee, friend, son or daughter or maybe the neighbor next door?  Communication isn’t going to magically come upon you, it has to be cultivated and guided by the Holy Spirit. He will help you build up that communication tool belt with the knowledge and skills needed, along with the wisdom and character to use them. Seek what you need now. 

 

What Does It Take to Use Word Pictures Effectively?

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In last weeks post, we began the topic of word pictures and how they can be a catalyst for change. We will continue looking at word pictures and the steps needed to use them effectively. There are 6 word picture steps in all that if you follow will hopefully be the right communication tool to effectively get to the heart of what you are wanting to say along with getting to the heart of the person you are saying it to.

The First Three Steps to Effective Word Pictures

We talked about the first step in last week’s post being the need to choose from the 4 objectives. Once you have an objective in mind, it is time to do some studying. For this next step, you need to become a detective. You will study and work at uncovering that person’s interests. This calls for researching the past and present for those things in that person’s life that mean something to him or her. I would encourage you not to be discouraged if you aren’t discovering something right away. Seek the Lord’s guidance and he will help lead you to the right thing. When we have that right thing it can have a huge impact.

Now, that you have your objective and an interest of that person that will capture their attention, you will have to draw from one of four inexhaustible wells. These wells are the place where the inspiration comes from. These wells never run dry and can be used again and again. We can draw from:

  • nature
  • everyday objects
  • imaginative stories
  • past experiences/memories effective word pictures

The Final Steps Towards the Effective Word Picture

Word pictures are story telling and this tool takes practice. So, once you have your word picture, don’t make the mistake of taking it and running with it. Rehearse it. Have another person listen to it to give you their own feedback. Like an athlete preparing for the Olympic Games, practice does make you better. The word picture will be more effective if you have practiced it.

The timing of when to present our word picture to that person is the next vital step. Distractions and the circumstances of the day all play into when is the best time and place to present your word picture. Carefully consider this and allow yourself to be flexible. If the time you had in mind comes and you are getting the feeling its not the right time, save it for another time when distractions and circumstances won’t interfere with the effectiveness.

Not all word pictures will hit the target as we hope for. So, this next step is encouragement to keep at it. Try another word picture that speaks about the objective you are trying to get across. Let’s take this back to step two and maybe use another interest or take it to the wells and try using another of the four wells to draw from. Persistence is a character of God that we are capable of doing as well especially if we are drawing from his power in the temple and connecting with him Spirit to spirit.

For further study on the idea of word pictures read The Language of Love by Gary Smalley and John Trent, Ph.D.

Communication is a skill that can be acquired but it does take intention, time and practice but the benefits are immeasurable. I hope this communication tool of word pictures will become apart of your communication tool belt.

Next week, I will share with you a word picture I used with my preschool class.

 

Word Pictures Can Be the Catalyst for Change

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Wise word pictures can be the catalyst for change. Jesus was the ultimate pro at communication and using wise words. He practiced what we call in broad terms a word picture. These are the analogies, metaphors and other so-called literary devices that are meant to capture attention.

Word pictures have a way of connecting to our emotions. This emotional connection produces the impact that can help a person see something they weren’t seeing before. A Word picture used wisely can be the catalyst for change.

Using word pictures takes some instruction and some practice but when used they can be a very effective communication tool. We will take a look at the first thing to consider which is your objective in what you are wanting to communicate. Our objectives need to align with how God wants us to use our words. Here are the four objectives:

  1. Communicating clarity of thoughts and feelings.
  2. Communicating to deepen the intimacy of a relationship.
  3. Communicating to praise and encourage.
  4. Communicating to correct and/or convict.

Communicating clarity of thoughts and feelings

You are in a hot shower and the steam is encompassing the whole bathroom. The mirrors are no longer showing your reflection but are covered with moisture creating a big blob of nothingness. In order to get your make-up on, you swipe your robbed arm across the mirror to give you a glimpse of yourself. However, that swipe is only partially effective. You need to get the bathroom fan going to suck out the humid air and allow the room to return to a normal dry state along with your mirrors. This is what a word picture does when we want to communicate clarity of what our thoughts and feelings are.

We may have tried communicating before with the swipe of the robbed arm on the mirror but we come to the point where we need to use the fan; the word picture to better clarify to the person we are trying to communicate to what we are thinking and feeling.

Communicating to deepen the intimacy of a relationship word picture to deepen intimacy

Swimming was always one of my favorite things as a child. I enjoyed playing Marco Polo with cousins and friends and got a real sense of pride in being able to dive down to the bottom of the pool in the deep end and retrieve some small object.  And when you come up for air with the object retrieved you feel like something great has happened. Communicating with the objective of deepening the intimacy of a relationship is like taking that dive down into the bottom of the pool. You have to take a big breath and propel yourself downward towards your target. But when that intimacy is deepened it is the reward you were seeking.

 

Communicating to praise and encourage

Sitting in my spa at night with the tree behind me slapping its leaving in the wind is like God is saying well done my faithful one. Our word pictures don’t have to be always a full blown story but a description that speaks into our heart. This is my own word picture to God praising him for the ways he lets me know I am on the right path.

word picture for praise

Communicating to correct and/or convict

You are heading to a friends home and encounter a dog in the front yard. What you see is a dog snarling and barking at you like it wants to attack. You are afraid he will come at you and bite your face off.  As you scoot carefully around the side of the yard, you realize that all you saw of the dog was his face but as you move to the left side of the yard, you see the entire dog. The dog intensifies his barking but as you look at the dog you see not only the teeth and his angry looking face but see that he is chained to a post. The chain is wrapped around his leg and he is bleeding. Your first view was only part of the story. This small part left you with fear but the new view of the whole dog tells you the whole story. It calms your fear and instead makes you feel compassion for the dog who is hurting.

This is what a word picture can do. It can change your view and in doing so it can convict a person that their view is the self-centered view. We need to be able to step around if necessary to see the whole truth that God wants to show us so we can respond based on the whole story.

Learning and choosing your objective for your wise word picture is only the first step. We will look at more in the next post. If communication in your relationships is plummeting over a cliff to certain doom, consider talking over your situation with a trusted pastor, friend or contact me to stop the jump over the cliff and start looking to the path that led you there and find how God wants you to communicate.

 

 

 

 

Perspective Filters and How They Create Problems

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Temperaments that don’t like being controlled have this perspective filter that naturally comes into play because its a need in their temperament. A Choleric will not want anyone controlling them and they want to be in control of everything. A Sanguine will have these same needs but will swing form being the leader in charge to self-indulgence mode if they don’t get the recognition they need. Melancholy’s have only one side of the “need” coin. They don’t like to be controlled but they don’t want to be in control.

One-Sided Perspective

This control need becomes a perspective filter that all interactions with others, including God are viewed through.

When a Choleric in control wife is in the middle of something that is important to her and her Melancholy in control husband reminds her its prayer time with the kids, he’s not trying to control her. But her perspective filter is put on in her head. She feels he’s always trying to control things. This feeling is natural. It is the normal reaction with a temperament that doesn’t want to be controlled. However, our reactions are what get us into trouble and create the problems in our relationships.

This filter based on a need within a temperament isn’t going to go away. It is the way that God wired this person. But God also designed us to be in communion and dependence upon him. Our dependence upon God will help the person who needs to be in control step back and access the whole truth. You may react harshly but with God’s help you can learn to recognize when this is happening. Then you can take that step back and see the truth of it through God’s eyes.

Many of the conflicts we have with others are going to be caused by these self-perspective filters. Knowledge of your temperament and the temperament of those close to you is helpful. When you allow the Holy Spirit to help you then you can gain the perspective of God and see the truth.

Truth Perspective

Jesus said the truth will set you free. John 8:32 Knowing the whole truth does indeed set free those temperaments with this need to be in control. Analyzing and seeing the whole truth will disarm the natural anger response.

It’s much like the story of the barking dog. You are coming to a house and see a barking dog. You only see the dog’s head because he is behind a big bush. His barking at you is making you feel scared he wants to rip into you. You start to head over to the side of the yard. Your perspective of the dog suddenly changes. The bush is no longer blocking your complete view of the dog. What you see is the whole truth. The dog is chained but the chain has wrapped itself around his leg which is bleeding. You see the dog is hurt and really isn’t wanting to rip into you. What he really wants is your help. perspective change needed

Shifting our perspective to what God sees will help us see the whole truth and that perspective change is most likely going to snuff out the anger. Changing our perspective takes the help of a mighty loving God who wants us to lean on him. We just have to ask and lean in.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Perspective change sometimes takes an outside view to guide you into God’s perspective. If anger is ruling your life, seek help from a pastor, trusted friend or Christian counselor. A Christian temperament counselor will be able to help you get to the root causes of your anger that stem from your temperament. We all need help but asking can be the most difficult. You are not alone.

Are We Really Listening or Just Taking In the Sound Waves?

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Listening is part of communication and is often thought of as an art. When we say it is an art, we are effectively saying this person was born with this ability. It is natural for them. But what about the rest of us that don’t have the natural ability to communicate? Are we doomed to live our lives without being able to communicate well?

The Lord is clear in His Word that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) God made humans to have the capacity to learn and from learning to grow. That growth will be shown in our day to day behaviors. Though some of us have within our temperaments the natural gift of communication in the form of expression, some of us don’t. We are the ones who struggle with expressing ourselves. We will look more at this in a future article. Listening Well

But communication is so much more than just talking; it is about listening.  How we define listening is a first step in boosting up your capacity to listen well. That capacity to listen well can grow as we practice what we learn and as we rely on God’s strength and guidance to put what we learn to practice.

Listening vs. Hearing

Hearing and listening are not the same. We can hear a baby crying and not get up and respond to it. We can hear the T.V. program but our mind is on the issue we are having at work. Sound waves come into our ears constantly. We live in a world full of sounds everywhere. But it takes more than just the sound waves coming in for us to be truly listening. It takes the act of doing.

We can learn what God wants to tell us from his Word about listening. In the Hebrew language, the word “shema” is translated as “listen” but there is more to it. Watch the video below from The Bible Project about this word and learn what God wants us to understand about what listening really means.

 

So you have just heard the video but have you really listened well? Take what you have just heard and do something with it. Tell a friend, write about it in your journal, make a comment hear about it and most definitely talk to God about it and ask him to help you in the days ahead to put true listening into practice.

Communication is a skill that can be learned. We will continue to look at this in the weeks ahead. Thanks for listening!

Keeping the Seasons of the Unseen Realm from Heading into Winter

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Seasons are manifested in the physical realm like when the air gets cooler and the leaves start to change color in the fall. They are also manifested in the unseen spiritual realm within our soul and spirit. We will all walk through these seasons of the unseen in our lives. Those seasons of depression or grief. Those seasons of overwhelming stress or physical sickness. Even seasons of anger, guilt and torment. season of winter

These would all be categorized under the Winter season when things are cold and things seem dead. But God in his infinite mercy and love is always with us, calling to move out of winter and into spring and the new life we have with Him.

Today is the first day of fall. It is the time of the seasons changing that I am most reminded of the verse from Jeremiah 17:7-8 when the Lord says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Season beside the Living Water

This analogy of being like a tree is mentioned throughout the Bible. Here is a list of some of those verses: (Look them up here)

  • Psalm 1:3
  • Job 14:7
  • 1 Chronicles 16:33
  • Matthew 7:17
  • Colossians 2:7
  • Psalm 52:8
  • Proverbs 3:18
  • Isaiah 61:3
  • Ezekiel 17:24
  • Luke 6:43-45
  • Hosea 14:8
  • Proverbs 11:30
  • Psalm 92:12
  • Ezekiel 47:12
  • Matthew 3:10
  • Isaiah 55:12-13
  • Song of Solomon 2:3

We Are Like Walking Trees

I heard recently from a friend of the existence of what is called “The Walking Tree”. It is a tree that can be found in the jungle regions and it literally walks. It is a slow walk over time but scientists have studied this tree and it does indeed move itself from one place to another. We are walking trees and what Jesus did to the blind man at Bethsaida shows this.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. when he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-26

Jesus purposefully chose to heal this blind man in steps and in those steps he wants us to see that indeed we are like trees. We can walk to the Living Water of Jesus and have our spirit and soul nourished and satisfied. Fruitful Season in the Unseen Realm

Becoming the Tree By the Water

So if we are called to be like trees planted by the water and have our leaves stay green, how are we to do this? The number one thing to remember is it isn’t how are “we” or how am “I” to do it? It is always God the Creator, Sustainer and Provider of all things who will gives us what we need in that unseen realm of our soul and spirit. We can remain by the Living Water and not turn and walk away when the heat of day comes or the long days of drought are upon us. It is through His strength and His guidance and our submission to and worship of Him.

The apostle Paul came to this point in his life. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Despite the physical ailment he was suffering from physically which the Bible doesn’t specify, he knew that God was working through him even in his weakness. He could have gone into the self-pity, angry or depressed winter season but instead, he chose to keep his focus on the One who loved him and His truth.

If your in a season of winter and feel like you’ve been there a long time or can’t move out of it, there is hope. The things that are cold can be warmed by the fire of the Holy Spirit and the things that seem dead can be nourished again by the Living Water of Jesus and bud and blossom with new life. Many times we need help to get moving out of a winter season and learning the practice of staying in the spring, summer and fall seasons when we are growing, flourishing and producing a harvest of righteousness. Seek a godly friend, pastor or Christian counselor and allow God to work through them to help you out of “your” winter.

Contact me today if you need help to get out of “your” winter.