We ALL agree about the dangers of texting while driving! Don't text and drive because the danger is not worth the momentary word which you might want to share verses oncoming traffic. Lets now apply the same form of language to relationships. DONT TEXT TO RESOLVE CONFLICT...
So many people today are moving into the digital age to communicate and texting cannot deliver the spirit of what you are saying or how you are saying it to another person. If you are in the middle of a heated conversation, or you have a conflict resolution which requires your full attention, a "quick text" can be as damaging as a head on collision on a four lane highway.
Its serious when our world has resulted to digital communication verses a heart to heart conversation anymore. Just recently a recent study in a New York restaurant showed that the timeliness of service, the expeditious nature and quality of the restaurant had declined due to "digital technology" entering the workplace. Selfies, texting to friends which slowed down ordering, waiters stopping to wait on consumers and more all contributed to a less productive work environment.
There used to be a day when people sat at a table and talked about their problems, but now we multi task at such high levels, we forget who we are and where we are because our mini-computers are ten times worse than any pager could ever be. Guess what, this is MY problem too. I have fallen into the trap of trying to "one minute manage" all kinds of situations and hit a train wreck in the middle of the process. So the bottom line is,...its just not safe.
Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the father except by me". I wish I could have heard him say those words, because when we just read them, we don't know the spirit in which they are delivered. We can interpret the Word to the best of our ability, but can you imagine the power of when Jesus said, "I make all things new" and knowing, HE REALLY CAN!
If you have a conflict with someone, go to them and be open, loving, non-judgemental and sincere with them. In person is always the best and over the phone is only second best, next to Face Time. If it doesn't go like you would like it to go, take a friend with you and try to resolve it with more than one party present. This is a Biblical solution which has proven the test of time over and over again.
You have to remember you can't deal rationally with irrational people so use mercy, grace and forgiveness as your mantle. Don't try to "text out" of a crisis, but instead go back to one on one fundamentals of real relationship building. Pray before you go and go "in love" with a real sincere hope to reconcile.
As part of our New Year, make peace with your brothers and sisters in life. Don't carry any grudges over, stop taking an accounting of rights and wrongs, leave those at the alter of the heart and give them over to God. Let your anger, rage, frustrating and anxiety at the feet of the Cross and remember, Christ died for our sins and He offers you a new life, a new beginning and a new journey into the future. Its time to clean the slate, so throw out the digital age of communication and get back to the reality of being a friend, in every sense of the word.
I love you all... Kevin
Just a few days before the New Year there are many thoughts of reflection on 2014. I have some questions about why the year was so tough for so many of our friends. You know the drill, "Why do bad things happen to good people" seems to be a pretty popular discussion. What if we expand this, "Why do bad things happen to all people, because who decides who is good and bad, Santa?"
Its way deeper than anything so trivial because our nature is where the conflict begins. So many times I don't want to look in the mirror and face the side of me which is dark. If you saw the movie LUTHER which I highly recommend you see the anguish brilliantly portrayed by Martin Luther regarding his own humanity and darkness. Films have a way of telling a story without text and the visual language of the sub text truly takes over.
My question is why don't I allow the sub text of my life to be more real because we know the sub conscious does not lie, it does not have the capacity, yet it somehow rules us at times. I had a dear friend who used to call his personal struggles "demons" and these dark figures were all the addictions, the things wrong and the "Murphy's Law" happenstances that happened to come his way. If we stay in touch with our own nature, even when it is not on the right path, we have the ability to confess our faults to the very Creator.
Ok, so its time for New Year's Resolutions and isn't it awesome to think a New Year can bring new beginnings in our lives? Its true, so much of our lives is ruled by our choices so I am praying for each of you to begin a new this year. Here is what I believe is a great way to start this coming year.
First, stop and recognize that God alone has been waiting to talk with you, to whisper into your ears and if you begin a new kind of dialogue and relationship with Him, your life CAN change.
Secondly, if you will purpose to invest a certain amount of time with Him every day, I believe your life CAN change, so begin with ten minutes. Take ten minutes when you wake up to get alone with God. Spend five minutes sharing with Him and spend five minutes listening. Just meditate and listen closely to see if there is a whisper in your heart because there is a promise from God found in Psalms, "He will whisper in your ears", so take a deep breath and listen for His voice.
Thirdly, create a prayer calendar for every single day of the week. By category focus on different people, different kinds of groups, church groups, church staff, spiritual leaders, work related doors, colleagues, dreams, personal petitions, children, family, god children, missions, orphans, widows, etc. Don't try to do it ALL every single day, unless you are retired and you have the time. Then, as you go throughout the day, as the Lord reminds you of others, remember them out loud in short prayers.
One more thing... Read the Bible this coming year with us! Use the One Year Bible, consider using the YOU VERSION Bible Application and they have a new Kids Version too! This is when God can speak to you through His word!
Lets make the New Year different. Lets change together and realize we have value, we are loved by Him and we are loved by others. Why do you think in First Corinthians the thirteenth chapter the word of God said, "Of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these...is love." I believe its because we need more love, love conquers a multitude of sins and love is where the ultimate gift was given from God's son, Jesus Christ. Love is powerful, so share love today.
For those of you who don't say it a lot, I learned something from a friend of mine who died in a plane crash years ago because at the end of every phone call, every time I saw him, he would say, "I love you". After he was gone, I wanted to pick up his mantle and tell people, "I love you" more. It doesn't have to be "out of place, adulterated or even cavalier" when you say it and mean it to others.
Happy New Year friends, I love you.
Why do we spend so much time "transferring blame"? In my adolescent years I never wanted to take responsibility for any of my own actions, it was always so much easier to blame someone else for how things were going. The way we behave as a child in our early teens can even follow us throughout our lives. So, it was natural I would become an expert in showing how others made mistakes. Hmmm, as Dr. Phil says, "How was that working for you Kev?" It didn't work too well doc.
One of the hardest things we can do is to focus the spectrum of every problem and the fault on our own issues and begin to see our world through a different lens. When I was so busy just trying to please everyone, I didn't ever want to stop and try to fix me or even get help. When someone acted a way or were "wrong", it was the easiest thing in the world to point the finger. Almost like the pharisees, I lived a life of false pretenses for a season that was going chronic on me.
And I also saw some people being false martyrs, which made me sick. You know what I mean... self imposed cowards who blame everyone for everything or go into the "victim" mode that just wears me out. Yep, there was no honor in this self inflicted chumping either, only a false misdirection about wanting us to feel sorry for the people who robbed them, when in reality they may have been robbing themselves with their own grief and shame which was wrong.
Yes, you can even also falsely take "all the blame" too and I have done my fair share of this side of the problem as well. So the question is...where is the balance? How do you find the reality when the misdirection seems to be so much a part of us?
I can tell you we have to own our problems and face them square in the face. Sometimes the trials come and we are caught unawares of how our own behaviors have impacted others. Sometimes, other people's faults drive a wedge and there is nothing we can do, other than how we react. Sometimes we want to lash out and react with hostile actions and it even makes sense to us. Sometimes life just sucks eggs and there are no two ways about it.
We can't always "blame the world" and expect different results when things are not going right. However, there are times when you are going to go through real mire and there is nothing you can do about the situation because it is not your fault. We can't "blame ourselves" totally like false martyrs when in reality there is no truth in this either. So where is the answer?
In the arena of the Olympians stands a champion who runs a race against all others and he is crowned a victor because he earned the "win" and a wreath was placed on his head at the games because he has not been chosen, but has "earned" the title of the best of the best. The champion would rise above the others because of his discipline, his fortitude and his inherent God given talent which he could not blame or take credit for in the end. I sure wish life was this simple, but its just not.
One of my greatest faults during seasons of my life has been the blame game I perfected in my teens. Come on, each of us have played this one. Its the oldest lie there is and if we say, "If Eve hadn't taken this apple, we wouldn't be in this mess." Wrong. It wasn't just a woman's fault and its not about a prejudice, its about something bigger, our own humanity. We all agree that "All have sinned" but we sure don't like to talk about our sin.
Perhaps one of the greatest blame game happens in divorce and then again, sometimes it is self imposed as partners do things that are 100% wrong too. Its a sensitive subject because so many people have gone through it, nobody really wants to shine a light on it and its always somebody else's fault. Yes there are two people involved in every relationship and there are two people who have a unique "story", but their issues are never the same. Nope, in fact the issues can be completely different but both carry "something" to the negotiating table, their lives, their experiences, their sin nature and their own faults.
In speaking with many people about this issue, I have come to the very real and difficult conclusion the failure of a dissolved relationship is a massive strike. Its true, its nothing less than an emotional nuclear bomb in the family destroying everything in its wake. It is a conflict which implodes and explodes trust at every level with everyone involved and even those on the parameters. The devastation is so vast, children's lives are never the same. Church family members you once believed were friends, turn on you. Pastors and leadership are just paralyzed to how to deal with the issues and congregations are filled with a mixture of emotions of which many are "falsely fed" by horrible rumors. Failures aren't very much fun are they?
The "black mark" carried by the victims or the "spoils" are equal in their over all impact. Emotionally, the assassination of character and the pain which is part of the rest of your life is huge and some never recover. This is why I am against divorce so passionately, just like cigarette smoking. Both are cancerous, smell and taste horrific and do one thing, kill everything in the wake. If you smoke, just stop. Do whatever you can, but stop killing yourself every day. (Ok that is another subject like overeating.)
Death is sudden no matter when it happens, but the loss of love is a real danger polarizing and freezing in time, bitterness, anger, frustration and yes, depression. It makes me sad to hear stories of people I love who have gone through this. I have tried to be friends with both sides and have been hugely disappointed when I see people "taking a side" instead of loving both sides of the coin too.
When I went through my divorce, I falsely in pride probably tried to own "all the issues" and didn't care what people thought. In my own state of mind, my heart was so very hard, angry, cold and displaced I wanted to transfer all the blame to someone else from within and outwardly, be a coward and false victim martyr saying, "It was me". Both were lies and they were seeded in pride.
Becoming "broken" was God's way of showing me that unless I truly forgave and began to see His love and mercy, my life would never change. So it wasn't until I totally understood what it meant to "lose", life would remain "frozen" in a dark place with no hope. Being broken caused me to lose everything and I would have told you that was not possible, but it was.
Here is what I lost. The confidence of my parents convictions. The belief my sons had in their father. The trust the people of God had in my leadership and the faith things could really be better. Do you see why I am against divorce? There are a myriad of losses which is exacerbated by the multitude of sins associated.
So I had to go back and ask forgiveness, to everyone. I had to own my own real situation. So I did to the best of my abilities. It was not a group of false heroic statements, but finding my own peace after a year of counseling and investing in my own damaged spiritual condition. This breaking of the will, the surrender to a Savior and the pain was excruciating beyond measure. The consequences will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Here is the good news. God loved me in spite of where I was. He allowed me to see through a long process of counseling/healing, my life was not over, but I had a ton of work to do. He gave me a hope and a future, period.
Through studying and reading the scripture, I learned to take even more responsibility for my own actions. I stopped being so inwardly judgmental and even privately judgmental toward others. He used my pain and the emotional terror in my heart as I learned to transfer trust to Him and not my own abilities. He taught me what it was to be "alone" and He used my tears to show me "HE WAS FIRST AND SHOULD HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FIRST".
If you can learn this lesson when you are in a relationship that is going wrong, you can still save it. Its not too late if you fall to your knees and have a willing partner to work with you. I was not a willing partner so I do very much understand the challenge. You have to die to self, you have to admit your own faults, you have to confess it to your partner and you have to be willing to not transfer blame. You don't have to falsely state the truth, just learn to live in the truth.
The unforgivable sin is one thing and one thing only and here it is. When you don't recognize that Jesus Christ came to the earth and died on a cruel cross for you and three days later rose from the dead. The problem with religion is that it is a "belief". Its not just about "belief you guys! The Bible says the "demons believe and tremble". Its about when you don't accept Christ in to your heart. Yes, this is a prejudiced statement which I believe is 100% completely accurate. I am staking "all my faith" on this truth, all of it.
So learn every single day to "own" our own faults. We learn every single day God will not waste our pain. We learn through it all, God has a wonderful future for you, no matter where you are because He is a God of second chances. It doesn't matter if people judge you or if they want to cast all kinds of wrongful, hurtful rumors about you. Don't worry about those people. Don't worry about the people who walk away from your life or no longer have love, but disdain in their hearts. They are vexations to the spirit so be free from them with gladness.
There will always be greater and lesser people than yourself so don't compare yourself to others, but live in a freedom of truth and own your own faults and confess them to a God who loves you. It doesn't meant you are faultless, but you will want to be at fault way less than before.
All of us have experienced grave loss and many of us have known great gain too. We can make it through the crisis and we can rise above the unreachable goal. Are you willing to make it a quest to be a better man or woman with your whole life? Are you willing to say, "I am sorry God for the way I have wandered or made my mistakes and I am wanting to go a new way of life, more toward you than every before?" THIS IS THE ANSWER!
Go start reading JESUS CALLING every morning. Believe with your whole heart and know you can have a better life. Pray for your partner to be transformed. Pray for yourself to be "real" and remember to confess your sins because He is faithful to forgive us and make us incredibly clean.
You can smile again. There is hope. In the new year of 2015, celebrate life and find a local group of people who gather together, maybe in a house or in a small group and yes, even in a church. You will find a host of people just like you, who are all hurting.
In the end, just realize how important life can be with God, verses without Him. Don't worry about others so much, because they haven't got it all figured out either, just like I sure don't. The older I get, the less I know about life, but the more I do know of my need for Him. If you took time to read this long post, I am blaming you...(Do you see me smiling yet?) Have an awesome day and remember, you are deeply loved, I mean it.
Kevin McAfee is a film maker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God using the visual language of film. His blog is shared in hopes of impacting culture, but his heart is in media missions and the church.