Healing broken relationships and building better lives – ClydeStyle.

For His namesake


America needs prayer. In times of trouble and civil unrest the best thing for everyone concerned is to pray. Most people will not argue that prayer changes things. Well why is it that we don’t think to pray first?

Jesus, when teaching his disciples to pray, wanted them to learn a little something about the God they were praying to. So in Luke 11, Jesus tells a story about a friend who would come to another friend in the midnight hour needing help. The friend in the story would not help because it was too late, everything was shutdown and the family was in bed. Jesus then gives another scenario to this story. He says that the friend in the homeß will not assist his friend in need because he’s a friend. His says he will help because of who he is.

This is extremely significant. My friends, our father in heaven does not respond to us based on how good we think we are. He doesn’t respond because he feels sorry for us. And he definitely doesn’t respond because of the religion we claim. God responds to us because he is God. Remember the 23rd Psalm? He leads me in the paths of righteousness for HIS NAMESAKE!

Since God responds the way he chooses, doesn’t this give us a greater reason to pray. The bible is filled with stories about God responding favorably to his people. Why would we then hesistate to approach his thrown of grace and mercy?

It would benefit this world greatly if just a handful of true believers began to pray for our government, our greed, our peace and our undone condition. If we would stand united in prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven and if we sincerely prayed for God to heal our land, I believe he would cause a condition to happen. This condition would give the world an opportunity to repent of its sins and then healing would begin.

I believe this. Do you?

Problems with the church?

So, having problems at church, huh?

I mean, we know that Christ gave us all a mission which is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. But I’m talking about a church where everyone not only knows the direction they are going, but took a role in planning it and have been praying for it since the conception of the plan.

I bring this up because I have talked with many who feel that their congregation is going nowhere. They feel that “status quo” has been the plan for years and as a result the church is dying. This is a touchy subject because for some reason we believe that we’re not supposed to question the authority of the church for to do so is to question the almighty God. Yeah right!

The church is only going to be as good as its commitment to follow Christ. No one would argue that Christ is the head, but we can’t just measure success by the mere fact that people still show up on Sundays. And I’m not saying that we are all supposed to have a Megachurch. What I am saying is that Christ did not leave his church without direction. There are some clear things that we should be doing so that the world will see Christ in us.

It can’t just be that we say we are Christians, we have to prove it. The only way the bible talks about proving our discipleship is with love toward one another (John 13:34,35). In an age where church splits are more common than mergers; where letters of dis-fellowship circulate more than letters of encouragement; and where preachers are being fired at an alarming rate, it’s no wonder that the church is dying.

It’s like in hospice, we serve families who tell us not to mention hospice around dad cause he doesn’t know he’s dying. And then dad tells us not to mention dying in front of his family because they don’t know he’s dying. Everyone knows, but no one wants to address the issues.

In addition, fear makes it hard for us to respond the way we should. We have been conditioned not to go against the system or leadership even when we KNOW that the leadership or direction is wrong.

Now before you run off and kick in the church doors, understand that you need to be a source of help. It is possible that the folks in charge don’t know what to do. It’s probably the case that they need encouragement and to know that they will not be harshly judged if they make a mistake. It is equally true that they may be arrogant and need to step down from their roles. Whatever the case, the church needs to be moving in the direction to bring about GOD’s result and not man’s.

I suggest the following as a means to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:

1) Get involved! Don’t be the type of person who comes every now and again criticizing. You want things to change? Let that change start with you.

2) Go to your leadership and tell them how you feel about the things that are going on and let them know that they can count on you to help make things better. Let them know of the high level of commitment you are ready to give.

3) Always speak in fact, not fiction. When things are not going well, Satan has a way of spreading gossip and getting false information out to the general public. Make sure what you are saying is a provable truth. DO NOT bring gossip and hearsay to the leadership.

4) It is never a good idea to have a meeting before the meeting. There should never be any secret meetings unless you are planning a surprise birthday party. People tend to get upset and defensive when they know that secret meetings are going on. Bring everything out at once. All things should be done open and honest before everyone.

5) Make sure that you have scriptural backing for everything you say and do. You need to know and explain truth that is aligned with God’s word. DO NOT go to the leadership with “I feel”, “I think” and “I believe” statements. You must stand on God’s word. Personality problems are not God problems. If there is something truly wrong, then it’s wrong because you have scripture that says it is. Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good!

The gray area in the middle is grace! (Part 2 of 2)

In my previous blog I talked about grace being, ” … the sweet spot where what’s supposed to happen doesn’t and learning occurs.” If we really understand what this means we can effectively examine our roles in these situations to see if we are glorifying God. Imagine in the heat of your anger with your flesh seeking revenge, how you conduct yourself to bring about God’s conclusion is what really matters to the father.

We could always choose to allow our flesh to rule us and begin to pronounce sentencing on our oppressor. Saying things like:

“I want you to pay me back with interest!”

“You brought this on yourself!”

“This hurts me more than it does you.”

We feel in the flesh some type of justification when we have been wronged. That makes it “ok” to be the judge and jury in these cases. God, on the other hand, does not treat us that way. Remember the woman caught in the very act of adultery? (John 8:4). That mob of people felt justified because  of the law. The powerful part of that story for me is that the law made those folks bring this woman to Christ! Was that not the intent of the law? So when she is brought before our king, he challenges us to remember being in her place. An adulterer? Nope. A sinner! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). If that’s true, then we need to leave the judging to the one who is righteous and assist in making sure God’s agenda is promoted and not ours.

The bible says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He allows for free will and did not create us in his image (giving us intellect) only to take our choices away by making us do his will.

Dear reader, are you holding a grudge against someone? Do you feel worthy to sit in any judgement seat? Can you even punish anyone better than God? Instead of dwelling on what happened, where is the honoring of God for what didn’t happen?

The gray area in the middle is grace! (Part 1 of 2)

Have you ever tasted revenge? To set out to repay someone for some wrong doing is a difficult task. It puts you on the dark side — literally. To allow revenge to kindle inside of you is to allow hate to be your master.

We use these so-called laws of ours and sit in the seat of  judgement to pronounce a verdict for a situation that we don’t fully understand, nor have the authority to pronounce.

God allowed laws for one purpose. And can you guess that purpose? Order? Nope. For people to know right from wrong? Wrong again. To communicate with his people? That’s a negatory.

Read this carefully because I don’t want you to miss it. What I’m about to tell you should make you not ever want to sit in a judgement seat.

Ready? Here it is: God gave His laws, rules, commandments and the like for the sole purpose of bringing us to Christ. Did you miss it? Remember in the bible (Gal. 3:24) which says the law is our schoolmaster to bring us where?

Why would God use the law this way? The better question is why aren’t we using laws this way today?

You see, if we allow the love God gave us to grow, we would want everyone we touch to come into the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue.

To get them there, they have to understand that they need Him. Well how will anyone recognize that they need Him? This is only because they recognize themselves as a sinner. And that won’t happen without laws to break. Becoming clearer?

We tend to get caught up in the right and wrong of it and we miss the weightier matter which lies in the middle — the gray area!

This is the area that says maybe. This is the sweet spot where what’s supposed to happen doesn’t and learning occurs. This gray area in the middle is grace.

Are you wasting the sun?

On or around June 21, what we call the summer solstice takes place. This is when the rays of the sun will be perpendicular to the Tropic of Cancer at 23°30′ North latitude ( don’t worry, I had to look that up too). This is when we typically get the longest day of the year.

While enjoying the sun on this day, I often think about the time I have left on this earth. Now, of course, I have no idea when my time is up, but in my mid-40s I think that I might have passed the half-way point. What I’m getting at is this is a good time to take a look at your life and decide if you like what you see. Everyone makes mistakes and some we are able to live with and some we are not. Some of our decisions have caused us to have other ongoing problems and sometimes we escape with just a warning of some kind. Nevertheless, we take inventory to see what people, places and things need not be in our lives anymore.

The items I’m talking about are those things that would have us waste our time, energy and resources — we’re wasting the sun. Some of us are struggling in bad relationships, going to bad places and continue to give in to our vices. Sadly, there are even some of us who have been wasting the sun for so long that it appears normal.

With 50 percent of 2012 gone it would be well worth it to salvage the rest of this year by dumping these things that drain us. We have to evaluate whether or not it is worth the time. The best way to do this is to imagine your life without the vice. Even go as far as creating a list of things or events that would take place if these vices were gone. I guess it is possible that you could create a list that ends up looking about the same with or without the vices. If this is the case, then you are the problem — and that’s the good news! Change from within is actually easier than dealing with change that involves outside vices simply because there is too many variables on the outside.

Whatever your list reveals to you, be glad because it really is the start of something beautiful — you! Your life IS worth it so don’t waste the sun!

Good grief?

Now that the funeral is over it seems like the world has moved on. The problem with that is you are still stuck. Stuck in a pit of sorrow as your loved one is gone and there is nothing you can do to change that.

You have become angry and depressed about what is happening to you. In the same breath you have the feeling of abandonment from your friends and maybe even family. No one makes a fuss after the funeral. It’s just you and your grief. And you’ve been running away from it ever since your loved one took their last breath.

Grieving is such a normal process. It is really as normal as a laugh, an itch or a sneeze. What all these things have in common with grieving is that our bodies react to them all — yes even your grief.

So that means that sometimes you will have mood swings. A commercial or song will stop you in your tracks because it will remind you of a moment from the past. There will be days of sorrow that will keep you inside on a very sunny day. There will be times when you don’t feel like doing anything. You won’t even answer your phone. The loneliest times will be when you begin to covet someone else’s happiness as if you’ll never have your own — and this is normal.

What you have to do is push yourself to move forward. Let those around know that crying is healthy and you may start crying, but you are okay. You just need a timeout and then you can resume. Make every effort to strengthen the relationships with your loved ones who are among the living. This becomes your new focus. With every death, a family should love more. Each death should make us all strive to live each day to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised. We should live as to leave no doubt of the love we have for our family and friends.

You see, grief is not the absence of happiness, but the presence of healing and you need to allow the grief process to do the work it was designed to do. I tell you this: If grieving is your storm, then God is in the eye of it waiting for you. Allow our creator to recreate somethings in you that you though were lost. Allow the greatest engineer ever to design a stronger heart for you. This new heart loves more, laughs more and cries more. It’s more compassionate than the last and is unconditional. This heart will be born from your grief.

Allow the Potter to have his way with the clay. A better you awaits and its all because of grief! I guess Charlie Brown had it right when he said, “Good grief!”

Maturity in Christ

I often hear Christians and non-Christians painting a picture of Christianity in a very primitive state based on their understanding. What I mean is that they are still looking at scriptures and saying what they see instead of what they understand. The problem: When you take what you see in scripture and never look beyond it, all you get is a form of godliness. When you study and gain an understanding you get the form and function.

So for instance John 13:23-24, “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  This is a very “easy” verse to understand, but what you walk away with will depend on your level of maturity. Some people see the fact that there is a “commandment” in the first verse. This same person that sees the commandment will tell you that Christ commands us to do things. They will then begin to process their relationship with God based on a slave/master relationship.

Maturity doesn’t even see the word commandment. Maturity emphasizes the function of this verse and only sees the love. The mature person does not feel “forced” to love. They don’t think that there is a negative consequence waiting on them if they don’t love. The mature person, based on their understanding, has a heart so soft toward God that the willingness to “do” comes from an inner desire to please God and not a fearful expectation of being punished by God.

Spiritual maturity compels us to forgive, not because someone asked us to, but because God has forgiven us. We love, not because the object of our love makes it easy, it’s because God first loved us. We help one another, comfort one another and pray for one another, not because of a command, but because of what we understand.

Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

There is a serious need for Christians to move on to maturity and stop debating the gospel and start sharing it; to stop scaring people to be obedient and start encouraging people to be.

Watch “Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD on how to reverse …” on YouTube

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD on how to reverse …:

Watch “Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD on how to reverse …” on YouTube

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD on how to reverse …:

His Grace reaches me, but who does my grace reach?

I feel so good when I think about all that God has done for me. I think about it often.  Having received something so precious as grace (and understanding it), I can’t help but be moved with compassion to help others.

If we looked at Christianity from a vocational perspective, it would fall under the category of “helping professions”. We have been called to be servants fit for the Master’s use. I don’t think we all see that as our mission. Furthermore, I don’t think we generally look at ourselves as missionaries. There are too many differing views about our purpose.

It is clear to me that God’s grace was given to me that I may make a difference in this world. How big of a difference? That depends on my gifts and how I use them. My motivation? It’s not because the recipients deserve my grace, but because of how freely I accepted God’s grace. In my most difficult times, He reached out and touched me and I can’t help but want to reach out and touch someone else. As a therapist I have heard many, many sad stories and in my lifetime I need not complain. I now know first hand that there is always somebody going through something worse.

Here’s my point: The ability to give is a gift. We were not born giving, in fact it was more the opposite. Giving is a learned behavior and there are some people who are really good at it. There are others who need to learn more about it and then there are those who could care less. God gave us a choice to decide who we would be. I know to some it doesn’t seem like a huge deal to have driven an elderly person to the doctor or paid a bill for someone or even spent personal time in a nursing home. What if just those people with twitter accounts reached out to someone — not for selfish reasons (telling someone off, borrowing money, etc.), but to extend grace? Can you just imagine unconditionally helping someone as a way to tell God thanks? He can.

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