Well, When You Put It That Way…

So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective                           Colossians 3:1-2 (The Message)

It is interesting how perspective can change our opinions. If we look at situations from a slightly different perspective, it can completely change our perception, and our attitudes. I recall some times in the past when I was watching football and I saw the replay of a potential touchdown. (It seems that every touchdown is now viewed no less that 17 times by officials, commentators, and the guys in the video truck- but I digress.)

On the replay, they showed several angles from different cameras. On at least 2 of the angles, the touchdown was not a touchdown. However, on one angle, it seemed clear that the ball had crossed the end zone line. All of a sudden, the certainty in the announcer’s analysis vanished. He had seen it from a different angle, and he changed his opinion.

I talk about that with clients at times. Some clients in relationships think that they are suffering because of the behavior of their partner- that their partner is being unreasonable. Then I might ask, what if you were to look at this from a different perspective- the spiritual perspective? What if you could decide to take the sacrificial role, and agree that what you are suffering is not fair or reasonable. You can choose to accept that, but not feel powerless about it. Now they would no longer be the victim of imposed unfair behavior, but they would have the option of choosing to accept the situation, and have the more noble goal of sacrificing for their relationship.

When we are in control of decisions, and do not feel that we are the victims of unfair behavior, we are much better able to accept uncomfortable things, and actually feel good about making the personal changes which can make the relationship better.

Please be assured that I am not talking here about abuse, and reckless offenses by one partner to be simply “accepted” by the other. I am talking about some everyday types of annoyances and concerns that may take on a role larger than it really needs to. You know, it’s a matter of perspective. Choosing to frame things differently can change everything.

It’s all a matter of how you decide to see it.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us the ability to decide how we want to react to our environment. Give us the wisdom to see things from your perspective, Amen.

Teachable Spirit

 If you refuse criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you are on the road to fame.           Proverbs 13:18 (Living Bible)

I was talking to clients in marriage counseling the other day, and I observed the interactions between them. Sometimes, our behaviors become so ingrained that they become invisible to us. In this particular case, the husband was talking to his wife about an issue where he wanted her to be involved in a venture with him. He felt that it was important, from a professional standpoint, that she join him in this venture.

As I reflected back on their interactions, I noted that her response was very hesitant and even a bit tearful. His tone in discussing her willingness to join him in this venture seemed like more of a command and an expectation. She felt like she didn’t have much of a choice in her answer.

I pointed this out to the husband, and he at first was a bit defensive, but then quickly understood my observation. He had essentially given her a command, not an invitation. Once he went back and explained what he really wanted, and why he wanted her involved in the venture, she was grateful, relieved and affirmed. The husband, is a really good guy- insightful, caring, thoughtful- but he needed an observation from outside that he had come across in a way that was not respectful to his wife. This kind of thing is not unusual. All of us fall into certain behaviors and patterns that can become invisible to us over time.

Sometimes the nuance of how we approach others for what we want is misinterpreted. Sometimes, our tone or language is perceived in ways we did not intend. Such things happen often.

In this situation, this husband’s willingness to see other ways that were better methods to communicate really carried the day. I really appreciated his humility and grace in receiving coaching, and I told him that.

Indeed, humility is the beginning of wisdom.  

Prayer: Lord, help us to keep a humble and teachable spirit, Amen

A Broken Heart

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.                                        Proverbs 17:22

I have discussed many times in this space the connection and correlation of mental, physical and spiritual dimensions of our life.  Each dimension affects the other in complex and mysterious ways sometimes.

I was recently listening to a podcast about the effects of isolation on general health. Some of the discussion centered around the effects of COVID-19 and the isolation it brought on due to quarantine orders and distancing rules during the pandemic.  It was no coincidence that during the pandemic, we became highly sensitized to the rise of mental illness in the world. As we became more isolated, stressed and hopeless, our mental health was adversely affected by the pandemic.  

One of the findings of research indicated that not only our mental health was affected. As loneliness and isolation became more numbingly prevalent, several health indicators also declined.

This led me to consider again the Broken Heart Syndrome. This condition is caused by acute stress, or loss of a loved one. The heart can literally begin to malfunction, and it can lead to death. Yes, people could actually die from a broken heart. Our emotional health is tied to our physical health in amazing and sometimes, frightening ways.

So, when the book of Proverbs talks about the heart, maybe it can mean both our physical heart as well as our soul and spirit.


Prayer: Lord, you have made us connectional beings, so fragile in some ways, and so strong in others, Amen

Internal vs. External Controls

Like a city that is broken into and without walls So is a person who has no self-control over his spirit.                                                                                                                                                             Proverbs 25:28

 Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.                         Proverbs 22:6

I was recently speaking with a couple about their 13-year-old son whom they described as “immature” and difficult to manage. The more we spoke, the more it appeared that this young man was quite manipulative, as well as attention seeking and essentially in control of the household. Both parents agreed wholeheartedly that this was the case. They were exhausted.

I talked about the concept of external control vs. internal control. Our job as parents is to provide adequate, secure and loving external control to our kids until they develop good internal controls. Children will resist external controls because, well, they are little humans!

We resist external control by nature. But it is essential that we have such external controls until we develop our own disciplines- our internal controls. Immature young people resist external control because they think they know better than their parents, or anyone else, what is good for them. I pointed this out to the couple. They had shared that their son became angry and threatening when they tried to implement boundaries for him. I suggested to them in my reply “As if he knows what is best for him”.    

So, there it is. Learning disciplines- internal control- actually frees us to be trusted people. When we see in others that they have good internal controls, we recognize that they do not need much supervision to be successful. Those in charge got there, mostly, because they have demonstrated that they are trustworthy, and do not need as much scrutiny as others. They can be trusted.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us models of success, but the price is self-discipline, Amen

Friend of God

 Lord, who may go and find refuge and shelter in your tabernacle up on your holy hill? Anyone who leads a blameless life and is truly sincere.  Anyone who refuses to slander others, does not listen to gossip, never harms his neighbor,  speaks out against sin, criticizes those committing it, commends the faithful followers of the Lord, keeps a promise even if it ruins him,  does not crush his debtors with high interest rates, and refuses to testify against the innocent despite the bribes offered him—such a man shall stand firm forever.                                                                      Psalm 15 (The Message)

 So, if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying.                   I John 1:6 (The Message)

In Psalm 15, David, also known as a “friend of God”, was asking how he could dwell closer to his friend. “How do I live in the tabernacle on the hill with you?” he asks. The answer follows in the rest of the short Psalm. Be sincere, and don’t slander others; don’t gossip; don’t hurt your neighbor; speak out against sin; call out those who do hurt others; keep promises, even if it hurts; do not crush others financially with high interest rates; don’t take bribes.

This is a list of behaviors that indicates how one should treat one’s fellow human being. Basic stuff, really, but it indicates that the way to please God- to be considered his friend and dwell closely with him- is to treat others well.

Many people want to call God their friend. We can cite the verses, sing the songs, and look pious, but if we do not treat others with dignity, respect and honor, God is not interested in having us share close space with him.

I am always amazed that the God of the universe, the first cause, Creator and mighty God, simply asks us to treat our brothers and sisters well, and he will be satisfied. The way to God’s heart is by loving others- even those we don’t really know.  He sent his son to be the sacrificial example of this.

Prayer: Lord, you would have us be close to you. What you ask in return is to have us favor your creation, Amen

Owning Our Biases

Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.                                Romans 3:23-24 (Living Bible)

I am a member of a community leadership forum, and recently there was a question posed about ethical leadership principles. One of those principles was about owning our biases. This presupposes that we have an awareness of our biases. Then, we must be willing to take a look at those biases and determine to what extent that they may be affecting our decisions, our relationships with others, and how we run our organization.

My response to the forum was this analogy.  In 12 Step work, there is the 4th Step which calls for us to take a fearless and searching moral inventory of our character defects. Owning a bias is not a character defect. Denying that we have biases is.

 Taking a 4th Step inventory is a very healthy process. Everyone, regardless of whatever recovery status one may have, could benefit from working the 12 Steps of AA. As one of the slogans stated in our Recovery Service at Church, Recovery is Not Just for Alcoholics Anymore.

Yes, we are all recovering sinners, loved by God and precious in his sight.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the freedom of owning our own defects and biases, Amen

Motives vs. Outcomes

A person’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight exposing the hidden motives          Proverbs 20:27

I spoke with a client not long ago who was struggling with inadequacy, especially regarding his income. While he was earning a decent living, and was not in debt, he was triggered to feel inadequate when he discussed finances with his wife. After some discussion about this, I asked him what his “self-talk” was about how he felt. How did he internally process the feelings he was having?

He talked about his family of origin, as well as some past financial plans he had made, etc., and I asked him to consider in his self-assessment the difference in outcomes vs. motives. I explained that we often default to looking at certain outcomes in our life- “did this work out well or poorly for me”? At the same time, we often do not consider our motives. Did I mean to do the right and loving thing? Were my intentions geared toward the best interest of my family or others? Did I do the best I could given the information that I had at the time?

These are motive questions. I am a believer that outcomes are not totally under our control, but our motives are. There can be other circumstances that may hinder the outcome that we desire, but our motives are ours, and we must own them. They are totally under our control. If our motives are good (not perfect, they seldom are), then we can give ourselves grace about outcomes. We may be too hard on ourselves for outcomes without considering our motives.

My client considered that, and that was his takeaway from the session. He recognized that he did have good motives, but the outcomes were not always what he had hoped for, and indeed that is what he judged himself upon.  

So, consider motives when judging yourself. Self-aware people do judge themselves, and that is fine, as long as we do it in a way that is balanced.

 That allows us to give ourselves grace in the process.

Prayer: Lord, help us to extend to ourselves a portion of the grace you give to us, Amen


Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
    don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well,
    they’ll keep you fit and attractive.

Proverbs 3:21-22

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus                                                         Mark Twain

As I was taking a delightful walk this morning with my wife and daughter, we came across a large pond with ducks, turtles, geese, and various aquatic fauna. We saw some turtles crawling up a little ramp onto a little island in a nearby pond. The ramp had been placed for the turtles to get a better foothold to climb up to the island.

We noticed that two turtles were already at the head of the little ramp, but they blocked the way of a third turtle who was trying to get onto the island. Try as he might, the little turtle could not push one of the blockers out of his way. He repeatedly tried to push the offending turtle out of the way, but as we left the scene, he was not making a lot of progress.

The interesting part was, that as we walked and talked, we were making up fun stories about the turtles. We speculated that it was a sibling rivalry, and the younger turtle was blocking his annoying older brother who had always teased him as a kid. We developed other narratives that were fun as we spun some expandatory tales of the situation.  

It struck me that when we are confronted with a scenario that has no obvious explanation, we will invent one. We will “fill in the blank” with a narrative of our imagination that is fun or interesting. While this is an enjoyable and creative exercise, it can also lead to more dark narratives, such as conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories again can be interesting, but the caution is that just because the theory can plug the information gap, that does not mean it is true.

Even more nefarious are those theories that are conjured up to make the case for our pet notions that have no evidentiary base. Sometimes, we may latch on to a theory simply because it seems to align with a needed belief system of ours. When we dismiss other more plausible explanations, then we are really in trouble.

So, using our imagination to come up with our own narratives to explain the world is natural, and can be fun and creative. We just need to have the self-awareness to discern if the narrative is simply to meet our own needs about how the world works.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us the wonderful gift of imagination, help us to use it wisely, Amen

Give it Away (as much as you can…)

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.                                                       John Wesley

I enjoy learning new things- just for the sake of learning. I thought recently, yes, we accumulate a lot of knowledge over our lifetime, but when we die, it is all gone. That is, unless we are sharing it- giving it away- along the way. We accumulate a whole lot of things during our lifetime. We spend a large part of our life earning money so that when get older, and we are no longer able to earn much money, we can live reasonably comfortably.

Many people acquire much more than they can ever use. We have all seen the homes of hoarders who, due to some perceived psychological need, accumulate so much stuff that they barely have room to move.  

While not a hoarder, I like to collect baseball memorabilia and books. Those things give me some joy and comfort. My office is cozy, and while not overcrowded, is covered with baseball pictures, and has a back wall lined with bookcases. So, collecting stuff can be fun, comforting, enjoyable- one of life’s little pleasures.

But our knowledge, and our wisdom, accumulated over our lifetime, is meant to be given away. Further, our resources- time and money, should also be given away as much as we can reasonably do. Hanging on to the resources beyond what we truly need is not the way we were meant to do things.   

To recall John Wesley’s quote from above-

  Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

That is a good life philosophy.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the opportunity to have enough resources to give some away to others, Amen


You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!                           I Corinthians 15:39-41 (The Message)

I know what you’re thinking. What in the world is up with a headline titled Bananas. Well, bananas illustrate an important biological fact. The bananas that you eat are likely Cavendish variety bananas. In fact, about 99% of all exported bananas are now the Cavendish variety. That was not the case 100 years ago when the Gros Michel (Big Mike) was the predominant variety of banana that hit the export market.

Why does that matter you say? Well, about 50 years ago or so, a fungal infection overcame the Gros Michel variety, and it was found that the Cavendish variety was able to withstand the fungal plague that has all but eliminated the Gros Michel variety. The good news for banana lovers is that the Cavendish variety seems to have immunity to that killer fungus.

Except, now maybe it doesn’t.

Here is where the point of the story emerges. The Cavendish variety has been bred so that it is actually reproduced by cloning itself. It is genetically so lacking in diversity that it has no resistance to menacing predators that might now come along. It is so inbred, that if that certain fungus attacks the Cavendish, we are out of bananas! Current research indicates that the nasty fungus that devastated the Gros Michel may now be able to attack the Cavendish variety also. Lack of diversity tends to doom life forms that are not diverse.

God’s plan for diversity is an insurance that there is a healthy response to diseases and predators that would overwhelm highly inbred life forms. That is just the way it works. We humans tried to get “pure stock” (the eugenics debacle of the late 19th and early 20th centuries), by naming some races inferior, or some people as “defective”.

God’s plan is for the marvel of diversity- accepting that differences in nature work for the good of preserving life.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us the beauty of diversity in your creation. Help us to truly appreciate it, Amen