My First Lent

20140318-103116.jpg

For years my mother has celebrated Lent, the season of prayer, fasting, and consecration leading up to Easter. Each year I watched her offer up to God things like sweets, fried foods, and sodas. She is always dedicated and believes her fasting truly brings her closer to God. This year, I’m celebrating Lent for the first time along with our church family. But you know what I’ve noticed? Mom was right. As Lent progresses, I’m getting closer to God, and I want to sacrifice even more. 

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” Philippians 3:10 (NKJV)

I believe this Easter will be significant in my life because my awareness of God is being increased each day of Lent. I’m being drawn in to the “fellowship of His sufferings” and I’m being lifted by the “power of His resurrection”. My eyes are being opened and I can see Jesus more clearly. His life, death, burial, and resurrection are becoming more personal to me.  

If you have never participated in Lent, I invite you to join with me in prayer, fasting, and consecration. There are resources like the 40 day reading plan and a link to a guide for fasting here to get you started: http://www.greaterfriendship.com . Don’t worry about any days you’ve missed. Start reading John 1-5 today. Pray and let God lead you to determine what foods and/or habits you will sacrifice to God for Lent. In the end, I believe you will know Him like never before.

The Source of Strife

20140311-123234.jpg

One of the jobs I held right after college was with a paining company. It was a small operation and we mostly painted apartments for students around campus. One day, a guy who had been with the company much longer than myself began to complain about the equipment and pointed out several problems with the way things were run with the company. After listening to him for a few hours, another employee said some of the same things, leading me to believe it was true. I engaged in the conversation but it was clearly the wrong choice.

At the end of the week, I went to get my paycheck and the owner of the company confronted me because he said he heard I was saying bad things about the company. I was embarrassed. I told him about the conversations on the job site and he told me if I ever wanted to know something, I could ask him myself rather than get second hand information from others. That day I realized the words I heard and repeated from a coworker caused unnecessary strife on my job.

Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. (Proverbs 26:20 NKJV)

If you are having strife when relating to or working with others on your job, find the talebearer. Talebearers are the source. A talebearer is literally someone who bears a tale. They carry stories. They share what they hear because it’s exciting to them like fire. It’s always news that’s “hot off the presses”. These are the individuals who share tidbits of information in the halls that derail your meetings. Their tales make it more difficult to trust others because tales hurt their character or degrades their image in our eyes. 

To get rid of strife, neutralize the talebearer. Here are some steps to help you.

Resist second hand information. When someone begins to tell you second hand information, stop them. You don’t have to listen to them and allow them to shape your thoughts and feelings about coworkers and teammates. This will let the talebearer know their information isn’t welcomed. 

Confront the talebearer. When someone brings you second hand information, ask them if they have spoken with the people they’ve named. Ask them what they did to try to help the situation. This holds the talebearer accountable for what they’ve said.

Go to the source. If you have been given second hand information, go privately to the person involved. Share what you’ve heard and ask for clarity. Be sure to also name the talebearer. In the end, it will increase the trust between yourself and the person who is the subject of the tale. 

Encourage others to do the same. The more people you have resisting the talebearers in your organization, the easier it will be to get rid of strife. You will collectively create an environment where truth, honestly, integrity, and accountability flourish.

What are some other ways to neutralize talebearers?

RaShan’s Truth About Marriage

My long time friend, RaShan Frost shared some truth on Facebook about his upcoming wedding. I hope it blesses you.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I was ready for the wedding and my response has been the same. It doesn’t matter if I’m ready for the wedding, it’s gonna last 45 minutes. The real question should be am I ready for the marriage? Many people will invest time, money, and effort to make sure they have a great wedding and honeymoon but don’t invest the same in their marriage. When you do that then you can’t be surprised when the stresses of marriage come and it collapses under the pressure. The wedding is signing day but the real work happens when you hit the field of life. You always train for the field! Likewise train for the marriage. Lessons learned.”

The Goal of Dating

20140304-111821.jpg

But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NKJV)

“Good men are hard to find.” “I need to find a good woman!” I hear statements like this and see them written on Twitter and Facebook posts all the time. But I wonder, what would they do if they found the man or woman they’re looking for? It all depends on their goal.

Paul suggests that our primary goal is to be devoted to God. He uses his own life of celibacy as an example when he says “it is good for them (single people) if they remain even as I am.” It doesn’t matter if you’re single and alone or single and dating, it is important that we strive for holiness in our relationship with God first. If we do this, we are less likely to fall into sins of immorality like fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. Prioritizing our relationship with God is our primary goal. 

Second, Paul suggests if single people can’t exercise self-control, it would be better to marry than to burn with passion. Our secondary goal is to be in holy matrimony. The goal of dating is marriage. When we 
set lesser goals we make it easy to leave God out of the relationship and fall to our passions. 

Think about it. If your goal for finding Mr. or Mrs. Right is to have companionship, what happens when you disagree or argue? If your goal is to have someone provide for you, what happens when they’re not able to provide? If your goal is to have someone who “has it going on” or is popular, what happens when they’re no longer in the spotlight? If your goal is to have someone to make you feel good, what happens when you start to imagine how someone more attractive may make you feel better? 

Issues like these are the reason why so many relationships fail. Not only do they fail to last but many of them fail to honor God. Instead, why not try doing things God’s way. God wants you to date to seek holy matrimony. He wants you to prayerfully meet and court without committing sexual immorality. Then when your marriage covenant is fulfilled, you will be free to explore the joys of marriage without the burning passions that lead to sin.