Archive for November 14, 2017

Chatting with by Keith B.

First, a confession. I steal…without shame. The knot of guilt burrowed in my stomach until I rediscovered a quote from T.S. Eliot – “good writers borrow, great writers steal.” I don’t identify as a great writer. I do identify as a thief. I steal stories, quotes, ideas, anything I can take and improve upon. My friends and my fellow addicts call me out when they recognize a previously shared topic, check-in, step study idea. I confess mining bible studies, Sunday school classes, and recovery meetings for fantastic blog posts and chapter ideas. So, I will ask forgiveness now. This post is shamelessly stolen and maybe improved upon a tiny bit.

It starts with Leviticus 19:2 – “You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

Two weeks ago, we had a guest teacher in our Sunday school class. She taught on the holiness of God using Leviticus chapters 1 – 8. I encourage you to look at this scripture. Scintillating stuff for sure. Detailed descriptions on how to bring sacrifices to God. How to cut the animal’s throat, where to place the blood, what parts of the animal to burn where. Makes you think God is picky. He isn’t picky, according to our guest teacher. He’s holy. To allow me in His presence takes a little work on my part and a lot on His. He is holy and sinless and clean. I, on the other hand, am not. Hence the detail around how to cleanse me to be allowed in His presence just so He can have a relationship with me. Pursuing righteousness makes more sense to me now. God craves and desires fellowship with me. Probably not too much to ask for me to pursue the same with Him.

Ok, warning. More theft of ideas. Last week in a recovery meeting, our leader shared an incredible topic. He wanted us to consider how we communicate with God. I had no idea the creativity many of us have in how we communicate with God. One guy sees God in bugs. I kid you not. Bugs. We differ greatly here. I validate the existence of Satan by the existence of bugs, specifically spiders and anything else with greater than four legs. My friend finds evidence and communion with God through His creation. Bugs and nature and everything else around us. Wow. I admit I never saw God in bugs until now. I guess no more squishing spiders. Ok, rigorous honesty, I won’t promise no more squishing spiders. I promise to have some guilt when I do.

At my friend’s urging, I spent time with this question: how do I chat with God? To pursue holiness and righteousness, I must commune with God, so how do I personally do so? Two main ways. I like Bible studies with other men. Studies where I pore over His word and seek truths and learn what others discover from the same scripture I study. I write. I carry a notebook with me and jot down things that I hear God in, seriously that’s what I do. Then I take them and form blog posts, book chapters, however they fit. In them, I chat with God through telling you where I meet Him daily. Chatting with God, for me, means pursuing holiness so we have something to chat about.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – But You Better Try

Matthew 5:37“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Telling other people what you want is key to feeling alive in a relationship and keeping things vibrant for both people. If only one person is getting his or her desires met, the relationship suffers. Unfortunately, many people do not get what they want in a relationship. But, they could if they knew how to communicate their desires.

For example, Peter began dating Marla. At first, he was in absolute heaven. She was so “easy to get along with,” he said. About five months later, though, something happened. “I broke up with Marla,” he said. “It just wasn’t working out.”

”What happened?” I (Dr. Cloud) asked.

“In the beginning, she was like a breath of fresh air,” Peter replied. But as time went on, I noticed a couple of things. First, I could never figure out what she wanted. I would ask her what she wanted to do, or where she wanted to go, or how she felt about something, and she would always defer to me. Even though that felt good in the beginning, over time, I got bored with Marla’s flexibility. There was something missing. I don’t know exactly what it was.

Second, she wouldn’t really pout, but she would be sad, or quiet, or something. I would feel like I had done something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. So I would ask. At first, she would say, ‘Nothing,’ but I knew that was bull. So I would have to pull it out of her, and then I would find out that she had wanted me to do something I hadn’t done, or that she was bugged about something she hadn’t told me about. I felt like I was letting her down, but I couldn’t read her mind. I was frustrated not knowing when things were okay and when they weren’t. I think I need someone more up front with what they are thinking and what they want.”

Many people think of “boundaries” only as setting limits, saying no, or trying to stop something destructive from happening. But having good boundaries is more than stopping bad things from happening to you. It is also taking responsibility for the good things you want to happen.

When you take responsibility for your desires and communicate them well, a relationship has much more chemistry, connection, and mutual fulfillment. You know about and negotiate any issues; there is give and take. And no one is walking around resentful and depressed.

Think about Peter and Marla for a moment. She had desires she wanted fulfilled in her relationship with Peter. But she thought Peter was responsible for knowing what her desires were and for taking the first step toward fulfilling them. She shifted the responsibility for what she wanted from her to him; she thought her “wants” were his problem, not hers. When he did not solve her problem, when she felt sad or resentful, she saw it as Peter’s responsibility to figure out what she was feeling and do something about it. Ultimately, this proved too much for him to do.

To have a relationship that works well, we should communicate our wants not outwardly, but inwardly. We should have a “responsibility” talk with ourselves before we have a “talk” with another person. Here are some of the things we will need to do:

• Own our “want”—be honest about what we want and be aware that our desire is our responsibility.
• Own the feelings that occur when our desire is not getting met—if we are sad, we needs to tell other people, not wait for them to figure it out.
• Choose to communicate and move toward other people to let our wants be known.
• Communicate desire, not demand.

We always have to look at ourselves first to make sure we are doing our part correctly. This is particularly true with wants and desires; others do not magically know what we want, and they need to be told in ways they can accept. So the first conversation has to take place inside.

Freedom is essential to a good relationship. If we’re not free, we can’t love. If people feel as though they can’t say “no” to us and if they do things for us out of compulsion, guilt, or feelings of obligation, they will resent doing those things. If we ask for things we want in ways that make someone feel as though “no” is not okay with us, the relationship turns into a control battle. Freedom and love suffer, and even fulfilled desires can’t fully satisfy because they are not given in love.

This devotional is drawn from Boundaries, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.