Tag Archives: helpful

Good Vibrations

When someone threatens or injures (emotional or physical) someone I love and care for, I experience severe and disruptive vibrations at my core. If I am not stable on the rock seeking Him, the rapid shift of my foundation can cause a swift degradation of my circumstance and condition. The tremor is an internal indicator that I am relying on my own strength and am guiding myself. Proverbs 3:4-8 tells us 4-5 If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. 7-8 Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, then you will be given renewed health and vitality.” (TLB)

Recently, my business operations were reviewed by outsiders. Leading up to and during the review, I stood ready to answer any questions they had as I know every contour of the operation like the back of my hand. The thing I was not ready for was some of the cutting words a reviewer levied upon my colleague and friend. The words left my colleague feeling like actions or inactions on his part would cause us to fail the review. In a sermon from a year ago, I learned that we must THINK before we speak. Before we say anything, we must ask if what we are about to say is: Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. To the extent that any one of the five elements is missing, silence is the best way forward. I don’t believe the reviewer was aware of the acronym and perhaps he was not aware of the power of the words he spoke. He hurt my brother and I didn’t like it! His words loosened the rubble beneath my feet and the instability rippled throughout the day. However, Hawk Nelson gives us perspective and leads us in the right direction with Words: “Words can build us up. Words can break us down; Start a fire in our hearts or put it out. I wanna speak Your love; Not just another noise. Oh, I wanna be Your light. I wanna be Your voice. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”

When we allow events to shift us from solid ground to sinking sand, we get distracted, lose sight of our goals and begin taking matters into our own hands. We become self-reliant as we begin to do it our way. Galatians 5:19-21 says, 19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: …a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods;…cutthroat competition; …a brutal temper;…small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival…I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (MSG)

And that is exactly what happened when I learned about the reviewer’s words. I got angry, questioned the team’s motives, gloated in their lack of technical accomplishments, pondered the possible sanctions against them, boasted about our successes, pitted my organization against theirs in an artificial competition, and viewed them as the enemy. Fortunately, prayer and 24 hours of reflection allowed me to regroup and climb back to solid ground. Sidewalk Prophets reminds us in The Words I Would Say, “From one simple life to another – I will say come find peace in the Father. Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things. I already know God’s got his hand on you so don’t live life in fear; forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray. Thank God for each day. His love will find a way. These are the words I would say.”

So…, when someone misunderstands the power of spoken word or knows it but intends to use it to hurt others, what is a proper response? When we feel unsettled, upset, alarmed, or distressed by the way others use or abuse language, how do we maintain an even keel? In instances such as these, praying and surrendering our circumstance to Him must become second nature; otherwise our path will quickly become uneven or turn to wet cement. When the ground rumbles as the earth quakes and we realize we are standing on sand, our reactions cannot be to reach for the control switch. We cannot grasp at the lever that steadies the platform we are standing on. Going for the handle attached to the helium valve that shuts off the air lift, causing a slow enough decent that those in the carrier are not sufficiently alarmed about the imminently approaching ground, is not appropriate. Leaning towards the button attached to forty feet of detonation cord, without regard for who is in the blast zone is not how we are called to react. Instead of clearing the entire deck in an explosive way, providing constructive criticism and dismounting with grace are alternatives. A volatile reaction illustrates ego-driven self-sufficiency that lacks faith and trust in Him.

The experience made me question whose favor I was seeking, God’s or man’s? Why was prayer not my immediate default position? Why was I so ego-driven when my goal is to serve Him? Where was my instantaneous surrender?

In the end, we were successful in the review. The reviewers finished out the week without too many more negative words or incidences. The vibrations I experienced were positive and good because they brought me back to these truths:

  1. God is our rock – Stillness with Him quiets the quakes
  2. Trust in the Lord – Seek Him first
  3. Prayer is the vest of tranquility – In Him we find peace
  4. His grace is our forgiveness – pass it on
  5. THINK before speaking – words can be exceedingly helpful or heartbreakingly hurtful

In I Will Not Be Moved, Amy Grant reminds us, “I will stumble, I will fall down, but I will not be moved. I will make mistakes, I will face heartache, but I will not be moved. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. I will not be moved!”


What Do You Expect?

So frequently, my friends make fun of me because I do not watch TV or listen to terrestrial radio.  Often, they ask me what I think about local news events.  I have to ask them to educate me on the event before I can provide a thoughtful response.  Occasionally, I look up breaking news on the internet only to be bombarded by accounts of humanity at its worse.  When I looked at online news accounts today, terrorism, civil war, overdose, cannibalism, and racism are terms in the top five headlines.  That level of negativity cannot possible yield positive outcomes.  So, I quickly exited out of the news site because I want more positive experiences than negative ones.  That level of doom and gloom is stressful and erodes hope.  These types of bad deeds may be the world’s reality, but they are not affirming or encouraging.  But I struggle because I want to remain relevant and relatable.  I know that awareness of current events is a way to get there, but in this world without rails, I quickly get lulled into believing the worst and expecting the least.

Titus 3:1-8 lays out the promises and expectations of a Christian walk.  It says, “1-2 Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 3-8 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Message)

So how does this play out in everyday life?  Many people encourage the elimination of expectations simply to avoid disappointment.  What is missed with that direction is the understanding that choosing to live without expectation creates a life without inspiration.  An unstimulated soul that cannot feel is lifeless.  So…when we are surrounded by the challenges of negativity, low expectations, and malicious ways, how do we seek His promises and live in His light?  The answer lies in prayer.  With everything, go to Him on bended knee.

Driving my usual route to work the other day, I entered the on ramp to an elevated highway.  I began to merge left towards fast-moving traffic into a clear lane.  Suddenly, a three-axel euro truck accelerated and not only closed the gap but also switched from the main lanes to the right hand merge lane while looking left.  I quickly accelerated ahead of the truck to avoid a collision with the truck and the guard rail on an elevated roadway.  I thought, “Wow!  That was close.  Good, no one was hurt.”  I continued on.  Soon thereafter, traffic slowed to a standstill.  I glanced into my right side view mirror and saw the euro truck slowly approaching in the adjacent lane.  I then felt the driver’s eyes peering at me.  I thought, “Seriously dude?  You were the one who failed to maintain a single lane of traffic back there and nearly ran me off the highway.  I moved on but you can’t let it go?”  The peering was persistent.  I finally looked over at the driver expecting to see an expletive hand gesture or some other road-rage induced, mean-spirited body language.  Much to my surprise, with a very sincere looking expression, the driver mouthed, “I am very sorry.”  I smiled, nodded at him, waved to him and gave him thumbs up.  He then smiled and mouthed, “Thanks!”  My heart then filled with joy because it was extremely obvious that God is always at work and the Spirit is alive.

Yes, the encounter touched my emotional epicenter.  At first, I was shocked that an experience I thought was going to be bad, turned out so good.  I then felt shame that I expected so little of my roadway neighbor.  I was sad that I took so long to acknowledge him when all he was seeking was an opportunity to apologize.  I was delighted that when he realized he was wrong, he took the time to make things right.  I was grateful that my forgiveness of him was instinctive.  I was thankful that he made time to make my day.  His humility humbled me.  As Criss Jami says, “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”  In all of his humanity, my trucker brother exposed himself to build me up.

The encounter left me with this:

  1. Expect the best from others
  2. Forgiveness liberates all parties
  3. Regardless of others’ actions, we are called into specific action
  4. Look for ways to be positive and helpful
  5. When we blow it, work hard to repair it

None of us are perfect.  There should be no expectation of perfection in ourselves or of each other.  Building 429 tells us in Press on, I am a mess, I am a wrecking ball.  I must confess that I still don’t get it all.  Lord I believe that all Your words are true; Doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with You.  I press on – When I still don’t get it.  Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I beg you…to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” (The Voice)