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Fair fights

In the battle of love it seems as though each partner hangs on to some of the hurt from the last encounter and brings the hurt to the next one. For example if I offend my wife in an interaction and she never let’s on that she was offended, on the next encounter she will bring that hurt to the negotiation table of her mind, to decide how she is going to deal with me.

At that meeting of the minds the good in her wants to help me or treat me kind, the bad in her wants to leave me helpless or needing. The God in her wants to actually do something to change things in a positive way for me and then the devil in her says it’s time for payback. These 4 are regular members at the table and the ones she feeds more has the stronger voice. Today though, the devil got a playmate because the previous interaction I had with her, left her feeling a certain kind of way. Uncomfortable, hurt even and it made her feel like maybe I don’t care — if you want to base a 25 year relationship on one incident.

That extra playmate doesn’t play well and the results of the table meeting don’t go in my favor. I’m not treated well and it’s mostly because of her paying me back for our past. I do the same to her. This is how relationships dwell in western culture. Tit for tat, butter for fat, if you kick my dog, I’ll kick your cat.

It is essential for us to be whole and by any means necessary we will move toward wholeness at our partners expense.

Think of your last encounter and how it made you feel. If the feeling is good then what an encouragement it will be for those feelings to enter the meeting of the minds. But if it was bad, you have a decision to make — whether to let it fester and continue to onslaught against the one you pledged to love or communicate your feelings in a constructive way so that you each reach wholeness together.

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The resurrection and the life

The bible is full of descriptive words for Jesus and this is the time of year where the description of resurrection and life is most applicable.

In John’s gospel we read about Jesus trying to explain this idea to Martha. She believed him, but thought the description was more accurate for a future time and not the present. You see, Mary and Martha were going through a difficult time — their brother Lazarus died.

The lesson is that Jesus was not trying to get her to believe that day in a future event that didn’t affect the present. He wanted her to believe in the present on a description that is applicable for all time. Jesus is not just the resurrection after death; he is the resurrection for the past, present and future. And if that isn’t enough, his resurrection is relevant for all times.

How? Great question!

What if someone was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer today? Jesus is still their resurrection. My grandmother died in the late 70s and Jesus is the resurrection for her back then. There are people who are not yet born who Jesus will serve as their resurrection as well.

We are celebrating the resurrection for Easter and the fact that he rose will be emphasized. But the relevance of his resurrection will not be touched.

I’m telling you dear friends that Jesus being the resurrection is a promise for all times and for all who believe. This single fact cancels death, brings hope and restores lives. It gives the believers an increased faith in standing on his promises despite what we see.

We need to live in a way that tells the world that he is our resurrection and life and we are confident in what we have committed unto him.

With this understanding there is no need for fear.

Happy Easter!

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God went first

So much of what we encounter daily is conditional. We deal with things in business, school and relationships that are conditional — you get something when I get something.

The reason for things being conditional is because whenever we give or share ourselves, we then are missing what we shared. A part of us gets depleted when we give. Energy was accessed and used when we give of ourselves. This effects our ability to serve, love, forgive, restore and give. We struggle moving on in our comings and goings because we will not allow ourselves to be “spent” for another person’s advancement.

So then how could we ever Agape or love like Jesus taught it?

God went first.

What that means is that before you serve another and think that your energy will be depleted and before you forgive or love and believe that you are losing something, remember that God went first.

He was the first to give, he was the first to serve, he was the first to forgive and he was definitely the first and the source of our love.

So if he went first then we are really working or serving from our overflow. God already forgave first so then you will forgive because of the surplus God has already given.

For those in Christ, we are working and operating from a state of overflow. You have more than enough to be unconditional because God went first.

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Ambushed: Heal from those who plotted against you

It starts with that moment. The moment you realize that something isn’t right. Scenarios have changed. People have changed. There is something foul in the air. The room smells like lies. The air is thick with betrayal and humans have taken on an animal form — of the rodent persuasion.

The normal script is that someone convinced someone else of something and they used other “somebodies” to validate their something which ends in you being the odd person out!

It’s like a horrible round of musical chairs — one minute you’re on top of the world and the next minute you are surrounded by zombies.

As it unfolds you start reminiscing of better days. You remember when the now tainted relationships began. You remember all the potential in the beginning and now this.

There are some who can live with themselves after harming others. They some how feel justified in the betrayal because they feel they have been harmed. It’s only after the fact that they realized they stooped lower.

So how do you recover from the ambush? How do you move forward after an unexpected explosion that leaves a deficit in your life?

Here are three tips: First, let it happen. You will need to save your energy for recovery. Don’t get caught up in the distraction of the fight when you should be decreasing and strategizing on where you are going to land.

Second, anger works like a heavy weight in this case. Once you start hating it consumes you and you have tripled your load. Instead of hating, learn the lesson. Someone you thought you could trust showed you that you could not trust them. Being your loyal friend was too much for them so don’t blame them for their weakness, understand it instead. Try to see the scenario from their point of view and I guarantee instead of hating them, you will pity them.

Finally, when the ambush occurs you will be consumed with who is revealed as your enemy. Don’t focus on that. Look to see who is still with you. These people are being purified and branded by fire and burned on their heart is a love for you. They will create your city of refuge and allow you to heal. You see, there is no need for you to get ugly! You will find this dynamic in all attacks — there will be some for you and against you.

Now, you will feel the need to explain yourself, but why? A wise pastor told me once that those who are with you won’t require a story. Those that are against you won’t believe your story anyway.

So remember, let, learn and look for your real friends — you will land on your feet everytime!

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Do you really know your value?

Have you ever seen an overweight person dance like they are super light on their feet? Have you ever seen an average looking person with a gorgeous significant other? Or how about a poor person carry themselves like they have all the money in the world?

These may seem like insignificant things but they tell quite the story of how much value we place on ourselves. You see for some of us, we don’t need enemies to hate on us, we will do it all by ourselves. We doubt, we’re fearful, we lack compassion for ourselves and we can’t seem to see the good in us.

This self-defeating perception stops our forward progress. We are not in our proper place in life because of this.

Before someone can see value in you, you must see value in yourself first. Before someone else can see beauty in you, you must first see beauty in yourself.

Fit what you want into this scenario but it rings true for everything: You must know and live out your own value. Now for most religious folks, Christ should have already given you your value when he died on the cross and you accepted him as your savior. You got all washed in the blood of the Lamb and was born again. You now walk with purpose knowing who you belong to….

No? Ok, how about you grew up with a strong father figure and he provided you with the security and understanding to know that you were loved, respected and that you mattered. He provided for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs and you left your parent’s home with a secure sense of who you are.

No? Ok then, maybe you met your spouse and they had everything together and they were able to balance you out and … ok, maybe not.

So we have created the need and we now need a solution for where you are. The solution is simple: You need therapy. The reason is because you have to process how you got to where you are and that can’t be done alone. You then need a plan that allows you to see your growth and grants you access to the next level for you.

We are at the end of the month of March and spring is right here. Thinking back on New Year’s Day are you where you thought you would be by now? If you are not at least in the place you thought you would be in then you need a life coach/therapist to help you plot a course and start you on your way.

Make the investment in yourself. You are worth it!

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How sunny is your sun?

So I am once again facilitating grief groups in churches and other community organizations and every now and then I stumble across a saying in the group that really touches me.

One of the wonderful ladies in this latest group I am doing credited her father as saying that with every death (loss) the sun becomes less bright.

Less bright?!?

I thought to myself how I can imagine that happening. It seems that when we suffer loss — particularly of a loved one — something changes. Things do not look the same. It is like the vision captured by your eyes is not as sharp as it was.

I first experienced this when my grandfather died. Now maybe it started happening at my grandmother’s death but I was younger and didn’t notice as much. But for sure I noticed it when my grandfather died. He was very special to me. He was funny, he was the first Male figure that actually paid attention to me as a young boy. I felt when talking to my grandfather that I mattered.

When he died, I was 29, married with a kid on the way and in a career, loving life. That was all new to me but my environment paused to give honor to an important figure in my life and the experience left my vision slightly impaired– things never looked the same.

I would later experience this when my mother-in-law died. She was a beautiful woman with an inclusive heart. When she loved you, you knew you were loved. She was kind and had a “tell it like it is” spirit. I can recall the first Christmas without her. She was gone, but her spirit was the elephant in the room. For a woman who taught us all the true meaning of Christmas and family, to be gone is more than we could imagine. We couldn’t say her name without fighting back tears. I finally spoke and we begin to share her spirit with each other. Still for us the sun has just never been as bright as it was before she passed.

Perhaps the dulling of the sun is a signal that with each death we die a little too. And with each death we draw closer to our own end — maybe that’s really what scares us about death.

Nevertheless, don’t stop loving. Don’t stop caring and definitely don’t stop grieving. Live without regret and don’t worry about that sun you see because you know the Son that sees!

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Are you experiencing this?

I wonder will this sound like a rant? I don’t want it to, but here it goes:

It seems that I am bothered by the liberties people take with my life. Things like assuming you can count on me for a certain thing. I would like to volunteer myself please!

I must have a way of making people feel comfortable not asking and just assuming my help. People can count on me to pick them up, I wanna say “loan” but the right word is “give” them money and pick up the check when we dine. Now of course there are only three people who I would expect to take such liberties and that’s my three children, especially my girls. But even this has to stop because I can’t even claim them on income taxes anymore.

I am trying to examine what about me makes people feel this comfortable? What am I doing or saying to make this ok for some?

I may not figure this one out but I had to say something as this has been on my mind for some time. I guess I just simply need to add one word to my vocabulary: No!