Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Dare You Say Something Kind!

Last night, at a neighborhood study group, a woman offered up a really nice compliment.  After I closed the study in prayer, she suggested that I open a prayer line for people to call in so I can pray for them.

You would have thought she suggested I dye my hair red and green to express true Christmas spirit.

In my typical false modesty fashion I responded with a deflecting joke about my Midwestern nasal sound that is not really made for amplification or recording.  I then make another not so funny joke about being Lucy from Peanuts cartoon, chagrining while charging people 5 cents at a prayer help booth, after I bully Charlie Brown.

This is actually an improvement.  I used to argue with people when they complimented me. 

Once a gentleman praised a class I led, and I just about took him to the woodshed.  Really, we ended up laughing as I protested his kindness directed at me by telling him directly he was wrong.

Why am I uncomfortable with another's kind appreciation? 

When someone says they like my flip flops, I smile and say thank you.  When I get a kudos for my cookie bars, I offer up the recipe.  Yet, when someone dares to say something nice about my study, leadership or writing I want to forcefully reject such talk as outrageous.

On the surface it seems like a form of humility, but it's actually false modesty and sometimes just rude.

Humility is putting the interests of others behind my own interests but false modesty is refusing to accept a gift of affirmation from other in a form of pretense.

When I cooperate with God and serve faithfully I should not be taken back when others are blessed--not so much for my fabulousness, but that how God works--through others. 

When the response is positive, that is evidence of sound ministry-in the Bible it's called fruit.  As long as I realize that from the perspective of a servant, giving people room to express appreciation is not arrogant.

It's sometimes hard to point to God as the one who really deserves credit-that can be a odd way of putting people off too.  It's like I would be shouldn't have complimented me that way, you should have given credit to Christ.  Yes, to God be the glory, but I don't need to scold or edit someone's kind words.  

It is not interpersonal relational calculus to accept another's appreciation in a humble way--it's not hard, so why do I make it hard?

I need to take the kindness when it's offered as a gift.   Open it, enjoy it, enjoy it and remember really it is a response to my faithful service to God and equipping from God.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Perfect Season to Choose Healing

I just read the revised edition of Healing is a Choice by Steve Arterburn, who also hosts the excellent radio program and ministry, New Life Live. Healing is an excellent personal or church resource.
Arterburn structures his entire work around the question Christ poses to the man in John 5:6, “do you want to get well?” From that perspective he offers up 10 decisions that lead to wellness and 10 lies that slow down or block wellness.

While the answers to the questions and the unpacking of the lies are sound and helpful, what is most powerful are the stories that accompany each. Arterburn starts with the frank description of his divorce and then includes many other life stories that do more than evoke compassion they effectively point to application.

The book includes a vehicle for journaling, a concise Bible study and challenges that move the reader in healthy directions. It works as a tool for individual application on to use as a group.

It’s much more than advice—it is an honest portrait of typical brokenness and proven, practical path to healing. It’s sound, relevant and thorough. Most of all, it’s encouraging that we can confront what holds us with confidence –if we choose to be well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friendship & Feeling: Ladies Only


A conversation that I am sure no two men have ever shared.

I had lunch today with a good friend and shared a story about how I had done something significant, and it was ignored. I was at a point of frustration.

She encouraged me, sympathized with me, and affirmed me— all the good stuff a good friend does at such a time.

Then she said, “You need to go and tell this person that she has hurt your feelings, and you are taking it personally.”

While, that is true (how I feel), it occurred to me later, that no man on the planet would suggest or do what she suggested and I briefly entertained. What it may offer in therapeutic release it also costs, in lunacy.

Where does such a confrontation lead…would I feel better with a dismissive, “oh I am sorry.” I don’t think so. Would I find comfort in making a point? No, I would feel needy and sort of pitiful.

It’s not that honesty isn’t the best policy. It is. Yet, there is time for wisdom to quiet me down.

Besides, when this sort of thing crops up, it’s a good time to remember who ultimately do I serve and who I really need to seek to please.

Oh, and with some humility consider who I may have overlooked recently who is having lunch with a friend talking about how I hurt her feelings…

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Better At Bats

Last night I sat in a barn while one of my chickadees took a batting lesson.  I worked through a Bible study assignment while she worked through the effectiveness of her swing. 

I was struck by questions her coach asked, and thought as I muddled through this assignment on self control--hmmm, that's relevant.

Coach:  Why do you not think about your grip?
Chickadee:  I don't know, I just swing.
Coach:  Why do you think you do it this way?
Chickadee:  Because it's comfortable.
Coach:  Do you recognize that you have other options, and while it may feel funny it will produce what you want?
Chickadee:  I guess.
Coach:  Which way just got you though with a rocket.
Chickadee:  The new way of gripping.
Coach:  So when you grip it different something different and good happens.
Chickadee:  Yeah
Coach:  So, make the decision yourself.  Do it.

I thought about areas inconsistency and repeated traps of undiscipline.  It occurred to me that I don't even think about it as a approach it.  In the abstract, concepts of life I want to "do better" but too often I go through the motions in the most familiar, comfortable way.  

What if I start with a decision about my grip, recognizing I have options and what are those options.  What if I practiced with various options until I discovered the most effective?  What if I do the thing that works best even if it feels weird. 

Mom and Dot may start hitting rockets. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Author Fails to Answer His Own Question as to Where

Where Has Oprah Taken Us? The Religious Influence of the World’s Most Famous Woman by Stephen Mansfield is a frustrating read. Why, because Mansfield does not capture the extent of that influence at all.

He does a thorough job of highlighting the spiritual celebrities who frequented the Oprah show, but does not offer up what impression they really made on the audience. He tries to capture what impression it made on Oprah’s personal belief, but that is speculation and conjecture.

Another disappointment—the heavy reliance on Kitty Kelley’s Oprah biography. I have not actually watched an entire episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and so Mansfield may be assuming a familiarity with the program in his readers that I don’t share. Still, it would be a much more substantive work and more true to the title if there was empirical evidence of influence.

Is it is possible that the people featured on the show were received as mere entertainment?

The strongest quality to the writing is a clear exposition of New Age, Postmodern relativism that glorifies the individual to a God-like stature. Mansfield does a good job of documenting how these New Age personalities (Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson) contradict each other and logic and even the faith traditions (Christianity, Judaism, Tao, Zen, and Hindu).

He effectively points to Oprah Winfrey’s attempts to embrace all of these as inspiration and revelation—and that such a response to this is absurd.

Yet, he fails to finish that with the mark it really made on her viewers and fans. If Mansfield really believes that Oprah has become, “the priestess of an innovative brand of spirituality, one that was even reshaping the place and nature of religion in American life,” (xiii) he needs to make that case.

The book is an assumption that because Oprah highlights these works and words on her enormous platform it resonated in an impactful way with the viewer.

Perhaps it did, but Mansfield needs to demonstrate that, not assume it. This is an interesting compilation of modern humanism but does not accomplish what it sets out to do.

I read and reviewed this book as a part of Thomas Nelson Publishing Booksneeze program.


About Me

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?