Category Archives: Faith

The Key to a Better Sunday Afternoon. A DadStory.

I spent the afternoon sitting at home with the family, napping on the couch while something played on Netflix.

Mountain Dew and Doritos gave me the strength to get up and take to the woods for a little while. Night shifts like last night’s require a little extra something to get me going, and after serving at church most of the day, I really needed the boost.

He was waiting when I came back. He wanted to play a big-boy game. Taking down a paper deer with a BB gun was just his game. It was getting dark when we started, and we saw the sun take its resting place before we were finished.

(Above: Almost everything I love in one photo. Juju’s around somewhere…)

Fish (sticks) for supper with ranch and hot sauce. For me, at least. Have ketchup if you like. They did. Options abound after a trip to the grocery store.

“Come sit on my bed with me and we’ll talk about… somethin’.” His tone and cadence are comical, and he knows it. Usually. This time I’m not sure he did know. He’s been craving time that’s been hard to come by; little did he know that he said it so clearly. Anything would do, as long as it’s me and you.

Read to me? Sure you can. Two of us listened to one. We started a little too late; bedtime was on us. Prayers and kisses, but only after commands to brush your teeth about 5 times. I hope that changes soon, but not too soon.

Things would have been a lot different this afternoon, if I was the same person who started this day. But I’m not.

That’s the key to having a better Sunday afternoon. Let Sunday morning change you.

I  got tired of all the things that try to pull me in the wrong direction, and even some things that pull me in the right direction- assuming that I was someone other than who I am. I’ve tried to be that person but I can’t.

So I started by calling some things off, just for today. Oh, and I won’t be at that meeting tomorrow either.

Then I decided to call it quits. Two months ought to be enough time for all of us to make alternate plans to get by. I don’t feel bad saying I’ve had enough of something that now makes me anxious and angry every time I have to do it. I won’t be keeping you awake at night much longer, babe. Maybe we can lay down at the same time.

Can I narrow my focus to the things that give me the greatest return on my time? The greatest freedom to help others and myself? What other choice do I have? God answered Moses, “What’s that in your hand? That and Me is all you need.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.

When I started the drive, I was anxious. By the time I got home, I knew just what to do with the rest of those campaign funds I won’t be needing next year.

I can’t stand to try living up to everyone’s expectations anymore. So, I won’t. I get to decide whose opinion is important and whose is not. It isn’t that I won’t do some really important things that will require me to seek understanding and patience from the people I love. It’s just that right now, as of today, the list of who I’m listening to got drastically shorter.

What did he say at church today? Your life’s purpose is found where passion and compassion meet. For me, compassion starts at home. Always has. I guess I’ve been keeping that to myself too much lately.

All the defining moments of my life have happened in church. And they all have been overwhelmingly simple. Are you missing defining moments because you’re in the wrong place or the wrong frame of mind?

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How to Communicate Without Ever Having to Say “I’m Sorry.”

What is your strategy for communicating with important people in a way that you never have to say you’re sorry?

I have been writing a lot for lessons and sermons lately, so original content for this page has been a little low. But, if it can be spoken, it can be printed. So here is one of the more significant presentations I have made over the past week. This was done for our church’s marriage and relationship workshop in Wednesdays in August.

“Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Do not sharply reprimand an older man, but appeal to him as [you would to] a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters, in all purity [being careful to maintain appropriate relationships].
‭‭1 TIMOTHY‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭AMP‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace. Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices. Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon. You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.”
‭‭Song of Songs‬ ‭4:9-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In the KJV, the word “treasure” in Song of Solomon chapter 4 is translated “sister.”
God has put us in a familial relationship with one another in the kingdom of God.
If you skip “sister” and go straight to “spouse,” then you have sacrificed a lot of depth and entered a relationship you have not properly developed.

The end result would be a childish relationship, an immature relationship, where certain needs have not been met, or have even been sacrificed for the sake of more pressing wants.

The consequences of skipping key developmental tasks are:

  • You become stuck at the stage at which development became interrupted
  • You have to return to that stage and learn the tasks that you would have learned in order to move forward in your life and relationship.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Following are the famous verses on how wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to give their lives for their wives, as Christ did for the Church. These separated forms of submission are based on developing the submission outline in verses 15-21:

DON’T be foolish. DON’T act thoughtlessly. DON’T be drunk.
But, DO be filled with the Spirit, DO sing and speak of spiritual things, DO give thanks, and DO submit one to another. Skipping steps in spiritual development will have consequences for the married life.

In a Jenga match- which piece made the tower fall?
The last piece was the trigger, or last straw, or precipitant.

But the first piece that was pulled is just as much to blame, because it led to the next piece, and the next, and the next. And in an effort to WIN, each person in the couple was responsible for bringing down the tower.

As the blocks stacked up (unresolved problems, unaddressed issues, resentment, danger), the base of the relationship became weaker.

When I titled this session “How to Communicate Without Ever Having to Say I’m Sorry,” I caused a little confusion. I’m not referring to never having to apologize. In some cases, the earlier you say I’m Sorry, the better. I’m not addressing the problem, whatever that problem is.

I’m addressing the problem behind the problem. The problem behind the problem is how we don’t communicate about what’s bothering us. Or we communicate too aggressively. Or passive-aggressively. Or hyperbolically.

It isn’t a matter of these things happening once. It is a pattern of behavior that leads to the final straw. It isn’t about the pile of laundry that’s left lying in the floor. It’s about the pile that’s left lying in the floor again. It’s about the feeling that says, “I’m unappreciated.” And if it was only the laundry, it may not be so bad, but the problem is also that there are other signs you’re being unappreciative that find their outlet in the laundry argument- “Why do you ALWAYS leave your dirty laundry in the floor?” Or the more common passive-aggressive or silent treatment.

The problem behind the problem is you won’t say you feel unappreciated.
The problem behind the problem is that you may erupt.
The problem behind the problem is that you might withdraw or withhold.
The problem behind the problem is that any of these reactions might be an act of manipulation. You will never get a change in behavior through manipulation.

Any of these malignant modes of communication will eventually lead to you saying, “I’m sorry,” if you want to save or maintain the health of your relationship. That means saying I’m sorry on top of whatever you may actually need to apologize for. And if you were not in the wrong to begin with, you will be in the wrong after communicating in one of these ways. Two wrongs do not make a right.

No one just snaps and kills someone. The victim may be random, but the violence is not. How often is your spouse your victim? Is he or she really the problem? And if so, did you just handle it correctly? In other words, without having to say your sorry?

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:45‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Hey, Why Tear Down the Church?

In what ways do you build up or tear down the church?

This dad would be a casualty of life and the sin that so easily besets mankind, if it were not for the power of God through his church. And I’m raising my sons to love the things of God, in the house of God, among the people of God.

So as I look at what is being said and the accusations that are being leveled in the past few days, I wonder- Why are you tearing down the church in the wake of the chaos in the world around us?

If you’re a Christian that made the statement, “I’d better hear this,” and, “I’d better hear that at church on Sunday,” following the rioting in Charlottesville, or any of the tragedies of recent years, then you’re tearing down the ship on which all of us can hope to be saved in this stormy sea of life.

I can’t speak to the moral fortitude of your pastor, but I can tell you that the church was not created to be the ally of black, white, or other, in the fights that we contrive for ourselves. The Church is the Light of the World, and if everyone would run to the God of the Church, we would have much less of a sin problem, and fewer horrific tragedies today.

If you go to church, look around, and wonder, “Does anyone even care?”, or you wonder, “Where is the authority in what is being preached and declared from the pulpit?”, then I submit you’re in a church that Paul described as “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” Don’t trash the church. Change churches, or develop the power of Christ within you to be the change you want to see in the church.

One day, your children will be in need of a church. What will they think about the body of Christ when that time comes? What has your testimony of the church been? And do you think they will care when you look at their lives and see they need Christ’s church the most? If you believe you can raise Christians apart from affirming and being a part of the body of Christ, then you are not teaching a biblical Christianity.

The world trashes Christianity and the church enough. Shouldn’t you and I stand up and defend her?

How to Grow Stronger in the Race of Life

I’ve never been guilty of taking Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 4:8 as a commandment against exercise; I’ve only ever been too lazy to get the physical exercise I needed. I can get away without running for a while if I get busy, but among the other ways that I grow closer to God and further from myself, running holds a particular significance. Along with praying, reading the Word, and writing, running is one way that I get with God and lay down my burdens.

(Featured photo: we spent our Flag Day enjoying our freedom to do meaningful work and produce something worthwhile. We will be seeing corn and canteloupe soon!)

Paul describes the Christian life as a race, one we are to run with patience, looking to Jesus who endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). We focus on being carefree and unburdened, but this race requires us to take a burden upon ourselves.

To grow stronger in this race called life- Run Burdened

Building strength and endurance requires weight or resistance. After a long absence from running, I decided to combine running with calisthenics and light barbells that I carried while running. A little bit of added weight feels like a ton, until your body gets used to it. But if you can persist, running burdened helps you to be even stronger and faster without the weights when it comes time to compete. There is a benefit to running burdened.

For me, running allows me to lay down my burdens- worries, stress, tension. But before long, I’m picking up other burdens, more beneficial to be borne.

A family member in need, a loved one in the hospital, the state of our community, state, or nation. A lot of meditating on purpose, calling, and mission in life. Something that is beyond a cosmic wish list I hope God will fill for me.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

We’re not promised to run carefree, we can only try to run while carrying the right kind and amount of weight- the Lord’s yoke, easy and light, will teach us of Him.

Some personal burdens are hard to shake, but I can’t stop running.
There are lots of grave needs, close to home and far away, but I can’t stop running.
In the physical or the spiritual sense, if you run burdened, you will grow stronger.

We would see Jesus

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:20, 21)

See Jesus… See Him in a manger. It wasn’t convenient. Townspeople ignore Him. Rulers fear Him. Shepherds worship Him.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

What do you see? Can you see the wonder? “Let us go see this that The Lord has made known to us…” Do you sense that they stumbled onto a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

See Jesus… See Him riding triumphant. It seemed convenient. The Jews marvel at Him. The disciples follow Him. The Pharisees glare at Him in disgust.

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. (John 12:12, 13)

What do you see? Innocent faith? Unpretentious desire? Desperation at the highest level…

See Jesus… See Him three days after the mob had done its work. It had not been convenient. Governors had judged Him. Soldiers had scorned Him. Onlookers had gawked at Him. Disciples had denied Him.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. (John 20:15, 16)

What do you see? Panic over a misplaced Savior, relief that the Redeemer was alive, the first of all that will ever be redeemed from the grave…

The Christ-like and the Christ-less all must see Jesus for who He is, no matter how inconvenient it is. Christianity without Christ is nothing.

All scriptures are from the KJV. Sign up for email updates today and get a free family vision planning form. Image via Microsoft Office images.

What I Hope the Church Would Say About Suicide

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It is a terrible tragedy to learn that Rick and Kay Warren’s son, Matthew Warren, died as a result of suicide on Friday, April 5th. I cannot imagine the anguish of losing a child to suicide. These parents now know the unimaginable. In the desperation of such a loss, no other thought can exist except to know that one is gone who will never come back.

I have confronted suicide as a mental health professional and as a minister. There are many assumptions about suicidal behaviors, mental health, and faith. In contemplating all of these, here is what I hope the church would have to say to address suicide:

Suicide is the horrible loss of someone precious. The mind can rush to all sorts of judgment about a person that dies by suicide, that person’s family, and the environment in which that person was raised. It is a very deficit-centered view that we take. In reality, we should mourn the loss of so many great things that were represented in losing that life. Mourning with and for a family that experiences this kind of loss is the most appropriate, supportive, and empathic thing that can be done.

Suicide is a choice. A complicated choice, but a choice nonetheless. The choice is complicated by mental and physical illness, grief and loss, despair and loneliness, age and decline. It is more likely to be the choice of middle-aged, caucasian men than any other demographic. It seems to be increasingly a choice for teens and young adults as well. To realize that suicide is a choice is not to condemn the chooser, blame the family, or minimize the circumstances of so horrible an event. To say that suicide is a choice is to recognize that there is an alternative, regardless of the complications.

Suicide, ultimately, is giving up on God. The world outside of the church believes that the church cannot help people who are suicidal because we are judgmental- if someone commits suicide, that person is bound for hell. I have experienced this prejudice first hand, because I have voiced publicly that suicide is wrong. I have condemned no one to hell; I have only ever committed people to the hands of a loving and just God, the only one who truly knows the heart of a person across their lifespan and in their final moments. However, the Church must uphold that choosing suicide is equivalent to saying, “God can do nothing to help me in my situation.” As long as there is breath, there can be praise and prayer, restoration and reconciliation. Upon death, there is no chance for any of these things.

Some of my points thus far may sound condemning toward people who think about or commit suicide. But the culmination of what I have had to say so far is much more demanding of the Church than it is of individuals. I believe based on the points I have made that the Church has a moral imperative to combat suicide in every way possible. The Church is called to provide comfort, preserve life, and present Christ as the most fulfilling option available in this life. We can call out sin and judge people, but we would miss the mark concerning Jesus’ call to remit the sins of the people (John 20:23). On the other hand, we could excuse and justify the choice of suicide, but in so doing we would deny the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).

This is what I hope to hear from the Church. More importantly, I hope to see the church in action and in prayer so that many people can be saved from suicide.

This piece may be very controversial to you. That’s ok. I only ask that you pray about it, consider it, and leave me a comment below. If I can help you or your church in any way, please contact me at glengaugh@gmail.com.

Copyright (c) 2013 Glen Gaugh

Why Can’t Secularism Solve Our Problems?

We search for success in a maze, as illustrated in the book Who Moved My Cheese? In confronting the fear of change that comes along with seeking greater success, Spencer Johnson writes, “It is safer to search in the maze, than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

When we start searching for solutions to problems great and small, I think we go off into a maze then as well, searching for answers in the realm of the human experience, trying to uncover new areas and discover new angles on old problems.

The problem is, while life may seem like a maze, searching for answers in the maze still leads to circular logic that leads only to frustration.

If it seems scary to get out of your comfort zone and into the maze in search of solutions or success, try convincing yourself to get outside of the maze altogether. More specifically, above the maze.

The answers to violence, crime, family and community disintegration, drug and alcohol abuse, indecency and disrespect are not found in the efforts of man. We are convinced by the media, by the government, by activists, that we hold the answers, even as any hint that there is a God above that is in control is brushed aside as a fairy tale. But for all our human philosophies and enlightened thinking, no solution, no success will emerge that can be greater than the sum of our fleshly interests and best intentions.

Have we evolved to the point of violence we see in the world today?
Is this enlightenment we experience when abuse occurs?
Is war or genocide the result of the human race gathering so much knowledge?
Or abusing one’s self with drugs and alcohol the result of a higher plain of living?

All of these conditions can be described as cycles- just another turn around the bend in an effort to solve problems we are not equipped for or suited to solve on our own.

Why is it so hard to lift up our eyes and see above all of this? The worst of all human conditions- pride- keeps us locked in a maze of our making. God help us look to Him.

It is safer to search God’s face than remain in a helpless, hopeless situation that we have created.

What keeps you looking down, or around, instead of looking up? Is there room for a belief in Jesus Christ in your life? Would you be willing to call His name in prayer during these darkest of times?

Also read:
The Most Powerful Social Change Ever
Truth, Justice, and the American Way Part 3