Sucking The Joy From Your Life! 10 things I want you to know about comparison.

Anne and I have different running styles.  The fact is this: We love to run, but there really is nothing similar about the WAY we run.

Anne runs much greater distances but at a slower pace.  I run at a much faster pace but at shorter distances.  When we run together, the distance she wants to run makes me groan.  The pace that I’m used to running frustrates her.  When we approach hills, I want to power up them.  She likes to walk up them.  She can run in the silence of nature and pray and/or reflect upon the day.  I love to pray on a run, but I must have something playing in my ears. 

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Simply said, we approach running quite differently.  And neither one is the perfect way to run.  We have learned to enjoy our past-time without ruining it with comparing our styles to the other.  We’ve even ceased comparing our running to other people.  Anne and I will try to learn more about running, but we’ve resolved that “comparison” just sucks the joy out of our experience.

Know this: comparison can be a very good thing.  From comparing Qdoba to Moe’s all the way to comparing running shoes to get the best purchase that gives the best performance.  Comparison is a great power that needs to be handled with great responsibility.  But unfortunately, it has become a tool for the enemy to use to reduce our joy to dust.  I think there might be no other issue that Anne and I counsel more with people than with the issues of comparison.  It comes up constantly with us because, as just stated, we hear about it from others and we, Anne and I, can tend to suffer from it.  It’s brutal and violent. Comparison wants to shred your joy apart to be the shattered remains of what it should be.  

As I said last Sunday at Kfirst

Happiness is a byproduct of circumstantial vision; Joy is a byproduct of Godly perspective.

What element would love to keep you focused on your circumstances? Comparison.  Like so many things, comparison has been so misused and mishandled that it can be such a detriment to your life.  Here are 10 things I want you to beware of when it comes to an unhealthy use of comparison: 

  1. Comparison is selfish in nature.  “Why don’t I get as much as someone else?”
  2. Comparison is a thief. It robs the enjoyment from you and others that God designed you to have.
  3. Comparison is used to elevate ourselves instead of God.  “We can do it in order to look better than others.”
  4. Comparison can be a cop-out.  We’ll find someone who we think is “far worse off”, compare ourselves, and give ourselves permission to not change because, “hey, at least I’m not the other person!”
  5. Comparison can be laced with fear.  You match yourself against an ideal and think “I’ll never be able to do/accomplish what he/she has done.  So why try?”
  6. Comparison is manipulating. We’ll try to use in on our spouse, children, friends, etc.  “If I can compare them to who I want, I can steer them in the direction I want them to go.”
  7. Comparison is stifling. We use it to dampen the joy of the people in our life who are celebrating something we can’t celebrate with them.   
  8. Comparison will make you spiritually impotent.  When you have a reputation of using comparison to stifle joy and manipulate, it can keep you from imparting the love of Christ into others. 
  9. Comparison blinds. It leaves a fog around your life that keeps you unable to see His truth in your life.
  10. Comparison can be judgement.  We can develop an “ideal” and think everyone has to live up to that. People won’t know what they want to tell you because they won’t know what you’re comparing them to.

Be cautious with your living.  Watch your life and prevent comparison from sucking the joy out of your walk with Christ. If you’re really itching to compare something, then reflect on Psalm 86:8-10 (MSG),

There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord, and nothing to compare with your works. All the nations you made are on their way, ready to give honor to you, O Lord, Ready to put your beauty on display, parading your greatness, And the great things you do— God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

Thanks for letting me ramble…

My Marriage is Terribly Inconvenient!

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I’ve been married 16 years. I love being married and I can’t imagine life without Anne.  We have had some great times and moments. We laugh a lot together. We have two fantastic children and we are blessed to serve in an amazing church is their pastor.
But I’ll say this is of my marriage:  It can be terribly inconvenient.
If I were really honest I have to tell you that when I got married, I thought marriage would be way more convenient than what it’s been. I thought my needs and wants would be fulfilled on my terms (in the way and timing I want).
I think I came in a marriage with a pretty good understanding of the commitment I was making. I had a great example in my parents. I knew, somewhat, what to expect. I knew what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife.  But after all these years I can say that I know beyond a shadow of a fact:
Marriage can be terribly inconvenient.
When I look at how much I’m supposed to love my wife…(Ephesians 5:25)
When I realize how I am supposed to forgive…(Ephesians 4:32)
When I’m tired and don’t feel like doing what my spouse wants me to do…(Galatians 5:13)
When I want to hold onto bitterness because I’m entitled to it…(Ephesians 4:31-32)
When my spouse wants give time I feel I don’t have…(1 Peter 4:10)
When my spouse’s preferences I’m the complete opposite of my preferences…(Philippians 2:4)
When I can’t have something just because I want it in that moment…(1 Corinthians 10:24)
When my responsibilities are infringing upon my fun/relaxation…(Ezra 10:4)
… I realize once more that marriage can be terribly inconvenient…in light of my selfishness.
This is where so many people trip up. People feel that convenience is required and absolutely necessary for there to be tranquility in the home. But when I look over vows for marriage…
I take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
If you understand them well, they warn us that there are seasons ahead that are not always going to be conducive to the life that we want or, sometimes, even dreamed. I like what Ecclesiastes 3 says…

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

We have to realize that within the covenant of our marriage, the seasons of life doesn’t lean toward convenience AND, therefore,   convenience is not always necessary nor is it required. Whether it’s what we watch in TV, see in a movie, or read about in a book,  we can be seduced by sugar-coated marital stories that our convenience must always come in the play when it comes to our marriage. We think that everything has to be about “ME.”  \
But sometimes when it comes to marriage covenant, convenience is not necessary.
I think it’s time for husbands and wives to step up and suck it up. It’s time for us to get past the mindset that the world revolves around what’s convenient for me and get into the mindset about what is necessary for the marriage.  As I say often in marriage counseling, “you don’t go for the win for the ME… You go for the win for the WE.”
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I recognize how hard you work. I recognize that some of you are tired. Selfishness is like Nutella…it’s way too easy to indulge in. Your wife/husband was not called to be convenient to your wants. Your marriage should not be built about what’s convenient for you. Again, I look at the way Jesus responded to us. Think about it, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out for another way. Why? Because the way he needed to go was not convenient for him. The way of the cross was painful.  The journey was not easy. But because of the joy set before him he endured the cross. He had a covenant of love with his people. And it is through that covenant we need to understand our covenant toward our spouse.
Marriage involves a lot of sacrifice from BOTH husband and wife.  Healthy marriage thrives on mutual servanthood brought together in the love and covering of Christ.  We lay aside ourselves for our spouse. We live out sacrifice together as husbands and wives…
…and sacrifice is never convenient.
It’s time to step aside from the drive of convenience.
it’s time to lay down selfishness.
It’s time to be a marriage where the TWO strive to serve in the ONENESS of marriage.
Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

2 Minute Devo: What are you thinking Day 10

We’re focusing on what the Bible says about the “mind” and how that affects us.  Spend time on the devo and take a minute or two to ponder what the Word is challenging you to do.

Philippians 2:1-4

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Marriage Blog: Leave the Money on the Nightstand

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Having a few weeks off of blogging, my heart has been burning to blog on a subject that has crumbled and continues to eat away at so many marriage. Paul addresses it in the famous “love chapter”:

Love “does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

This cancerous element has no place in your life.  It has no place in your marriage. It will weaken you and your spouse to the point where you will be unable to stand together.

It’s called selfishness.

Yet every time we act out of it…
…every time we think with it…
…we use and abuse our spouse in order to get our own way.

We, by doing it, empower our spouse to say, “Leave the money on the nightstand.”

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I understand that it’s an intense metaphor.  But I cannot think of anything more graphic, and yet aptly descriptive, of what selfishness does to your spouse.  The phrase “Leave the Money on the Nightstand” is known as a reply of a prostitute to a “client”.  It is the tired, broken reply of someone who has been so used for selfish gain.  It is the rehearsed line spoken to people who have “demanded their own way” with very little care and minimal emotional investment.  My fear is that selfish people are positioning their spouses to feel no different from a harlot: simply there for you to get what you want and leave them void.

I’m tired of it.  I’m so stinking weary of grown adults playing the childhood game of “mine” with the person they should be serving most.  I’m so sick of marriages falling apart because grown men and women don’t know how to think of anyone else but themselves.  Every day, people act out a scenario of selfish ambition trying to grab all they can thinking “if I don’t, someone else is going to be better than me.”  We take and take until we’ve depleted the resource (marriage) without the thought of pouring in (unless it’s to our benefit).  It’s like the zombie apocalypse is about to hit and they’re taking all that they can because they don’t know if they are going to get anything later.  To deepen the issue, we seed that mentality in our children by displaying the selfishness in front of them as well as refusing to raise them with the mentality of serving first.  Instead, we raise them to “take first” as to make sure that no one else’s child gets ahead of our kids.

Love “does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

The original language literally means “does not seek the things of itself.” Self-focus, which is the antithesis of love, marked the Corinthian church and, sadly, it marks too many marriages.  The way to correct “self-seeking” is, quite simply Christ-seeking.  To see Him and discover Him is to discover the totality that is love. And THAT is the remedy for selfishness: Love.

Jesus said,

“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31).

As we find our completeness in Him, it gives us the ability to love and serve those around us.  Jesus, in Mark 12, was teaching that concern for others must equal the natural concern we have for ourselves…

…and the word “others” should not just include our spouse but place them first above all human relationships.

Does our spouse see that?  Can they tell that they are the priority in our lives? We have to be willing to step off the pedestal we’ve built to be seen and raise up the importance of serving our spouse.

Our spouses should never feel used.  Our spouses should never feel void.  We have to guard our wives/husbands from be “marital harlots” for us to take what we want and go about our day.

Lay aside your pride.  Lay aside what YOU want.

It’s time for you to be a spouse who will raise up the concern to serve HIGHER than the level to receive.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

2 Minute Devo: “Complete someone’s joy” Phil. 2:1-4

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Philippians 2:1-4:

Philippians 2:1-4

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The Marital Kiss of Death

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A marriage thought came off  of a quote I came across.

Oswald Chambers says, “Some of us are like the Dead Sea,always taking in,never giving out,because we’re not rightly related to the Lord Jesus.”

My thought: We have the capability to turn our marriages into the Dead Sea.  How does that happen?

Selfishness.

Bear with me a bit.  With some help from “How Stuff Works,” we’ll benefit from understanding why the Dead Sea is “dead” and “dying.”  I’ve highlighted some things that will guide us away from giving our marriages the “Kiss of Death.”

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The Dead Sea is different from all other bodies of water on Earth because it’s incredibly salty, with a saline level between 28% and 35%. (By comparison, the world’s saltiest oceans are only 3% to 6%.) The Dead Sea owes its high salt content to several factors. First, it’s completely landlocked, so any fresh or saltwater that flows into it from the Jordan River and other tributaries is trapped — until it evaporates. Evaporation happens quickly because that portion of the world is, to put it mildly, extremely hot. When the water evaporates, the salty minerals are left behind, causing the remaining water to become more and more concentrated with salt.

Any living creature or plant (even seaweed) that dares enter these saline-charged waters dies pretty much instantly. Only simple organisms like microbes can survive the harsh conditions. The Dead Sea is simply too salty for anything else to exist.

Unfortunately for the Dead Sea, it may be on track to disappear by the year 2050. It’s attributed to fact that less water is being brought in via the Jordan River and other tributaries.

James 3:16-17, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

If we look at selfishness in marriage as the salt minerals in the dead sea, we can see that the presence of it will give our marriages the same effect: Death.

Here’s what I take from our little Dead Sea study:

1. Selfishness in marriage in marriage is “incredibly salty. In keeping with our metaphor, salt/selfishness is not refreshing.  Think of it this way: Someone going through dehydration is worse off drinking salt water because of what it does to your vital organs.  Without fresh water, the vitals shut down. You need the “fresh water” of humility and selflessness to bring life into your marriage.  Look at it as humility giving your parched marriage a drink.

2. Marriages built on selfishness are “completely landlocked.” The idea of being landlocked means there’s no room for growth. Selfishness makes sense in the moment. I fight for what I want to get where I want to go.  There’s a problem.  In that statement alone, the word “I” was used three times.  In a marriage, the “two become one.” You can’t afford to be selfish. It will land-lock your marriage and prevent the “oneness” of your marriage from growing any further.

3. Selfishness creates extreme “evaporation.” I’ve heard too many couples say that words, “how did we get here.” Too many years of selfishness have evaporated the life of the marriage and have left it in ruin. Selfishness in your finances, time, and energy will decimate your structure.  Selfishness with your body, emotions, and works will decimate your passion. Bringing your marriage to this point will make them out to be a shell of what they once were.  Ask yourself the question: Is there an area that has become a shell of the past?  Identify it and pour humility and love back into it.

4.  Selfishness in marriage creates in atmosphere that is “simply too ‘salty’ for anything else to exist.” Simply said: this is the feeling of hopelessness. No one wants to try anything new.  No one wants to attempt anything new. Why?  “It’ll go back to the way it was.”  Don’t give up the fight!!!!  Don’t throw in the towel.  Keep fostering love.  Keep fostering selflessness.  If it’s you who is being selfish, you are telling your spouse that any life they bring will cease to exist.

5. Selfish marriages are heading for martial death because  “less water (life) is being brought in.” There are so many marriages that operate separate from Christ.  I think of it like operating my TV separate from the power source.  It looks nice in my home. But without a power source, it’s nothing more than a large paper weight.  You can keep going the way that you are, but without Christ as the source of joy, peace, and strength, you’re asking for marriage with little to no “water being brought in.” Selfish marriages that have freshness are on a difficult path.  I’m not saying that Christ takes care of difficulties in marriage.  I’ve been marriage almost 15 years and still deal with difficulties. But keeping a Christ centered marriage prepares me for the journey as well as supplies me for the path ahead.

Take some moments today.  Ask the Lord to reveal “salty” areas that are stealing life from your marriage.  If you discover areas, it’s time to reconstitute marriage with love, humility, and servanthood.  Don’t let selfishness give your marriage the “kiss of death.”

Thanks for letting me ramble…