referee

Colossians 3

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

“Rule”- “Referee”

“Let the shalom that comes from Jesus be the referee in your hearts.”

The action stops to sort things out.

Same for us.

If I am not experiencing peace, or the group I am leading isn’t experiencing peace, it’s time to stop until we are all able to return to joy. Don’t let upset emotions run the show.

By letting emotions go off the track we cannot live with the heart Jesus has given us, acting like our best true self.

This is so important, because many psychologists say the most important predictor of a person’s emotional health is the ability to return to joy from upsetting emotions. The same goes for groups.

Grudges that last weeks, months, years, may seem humorous in a warped way, but what they really show is a sickness and inability to live life the way God intends.

You are responsible for everything in your life. You always control how you interpret what happens to you, as well as how you respond.

Return from upset is another way of saying Return to joy. The more often this happens the stronger the leader and the group becomes.

The first step is to realize we have emotions. Emotions cause more problems when we try to resist them than if we accept them.

We save a lot of energy when we accept emotions, which allows us to calm ourselves quickly.

When we experience the full emotion, accept it, and deal with it directly, we are able to remain relational and act like ourselves instead of stewing in upset. Powerful connections are made when we are able to respond well to others during the emotion instead of having to wait until it is gone.

We don’t have to have the emotion disappear, but can be glad to be with someone despite what we are experiencing.

“I can sense and value myself now as much as when I am happy.”

“I can sense and value you as much now as when we are happy.”

We use the emotion to build a better relationship with others in the present moment.

ME

What do we mean when we call someone emotional? Is this a criticism? Think about this.

right-or-helpful

Philippians 2

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

When you are working together with others what is the key target?

Building relationship?

Getting results?

If it is getting results you will not get results in the long run. You will wear each other out or someone will simply quit.

In business, there is much talk about the bottom line. Is your bottom line making more money or is it building a better team for the long haul? You can’t have both unless you start with people.

Just like most areas of life, if you work on building relationships you have a better opportunity to achieve the results you are looking for. That’s the bottom line. Working together starts with building the relationship.

This has to do with more than simply business. Getting results usually means working on problems. In all of our relationships we do well to remember this: People before problems.

Keeping our relationship bigger than our problems is a key to marriage, for instance. How many marriages get bogged down on issues we are trying to work out rather than cherishing the relationship?

People before problems is a key to raising children. Many a home becomes a war zone of irritation over something as mundane as cleaning your room. Or think of how much time is wasted simply arguing about who is right and who is wrong. We are always trying to get the results we want. Here is a secret to end all that arguing. A simple phrase.

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be helpful?”

If it is more important for you to be right and “win” the argument, than you haven’t really “won” anything. You can be correct about something and damage your closest relationships at the same time.

Instead, we do well to learn that right or wrong isn’t as important as working together with graciousness and forgiveness until we come to results we can agree on.

No, it is more important to remain relational when there is problem rather than for you to get the results you want.

ME

Some people treat life like a series of arguments I have to win? Is that you or someone you know? What affect does this have?

Thursday April 28- “Your rod and your staff they comfort me”

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13)

“Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

These are the instruments of protection and help the shepherd is skillful  at using, for himself and for his sheep.  The rod is a piece of a tree at the root that forms a ball.  The shepherd fashioned just for himself.  He practices throwing it and do so with precision. So when a wolf comes he can throw his rod and scare the wolf away.  If a sheep strays off the path he throws his rod next to the sheep to guide it back. The rod is also used to help separate the sheep’s woolen coat to check for any diseases or cuts.  It conveys  the shepherd’s authority, defense, power, discipline.

It is like the word of God which reminds us how Jesus used scripture to counter Stan’s temptation, or Hebrews 4:12 ” the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword soul and spirit, joints and marrow.”  So the rod in the hands of our Good Shepherd is the symbol of his authority over evil, but also his authority over us, his disciplining us.

The staff is a long stick with a crook at the end.  With it the shepherd can expertly pick his sheep out of a thicket of brambles, of off a rocky ledge. With the staff the shepherd also guides and mages his sheep.  The rod can be a symbol of God’s spirit, who guides, comforts, keeps us.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..”

The high country is the goal of the shepherd for his sheep.  It is a flat table land.  The shepherd went ahead to prepare the  area for his sheep.  He dug out the poisonous  weeds, clears the basins of water.  During the summer he is looking out for the predators – the enemies of his sheep.

Jesus does the same.  He has gone before us.  We stay close to him.  We feed on his word to help us cope with the fiery darts of the evil one.

“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.”

The shepherd puts a  mixture of oil, sulfur and tar and over the sheep’s  head and nose to protect it from parasites, flies which drive a sheep crazy.

And Jesus anoints us with the oil of his spirit to help us in our daily frustrations with the world and life around us, to keep our minds focused on Him.

Our Good shepherd has set a glorious table before us with the riches of himself and especially as we feed on his supper , we overflow with praise and thanksgiving for who he is and what he did for us on the cross. We come to his table, he has prepared for us, in the presence of our enemy, the evil one and our cup of gratitude overflows.

ME

Will we allow and trust our Good Shepherd to guide us. Do we store his word in our minds to help us in time of trouble? Do we overflow with thanksgiving for his goodness and care?

(by Gerrie Wilkowski)

A young man sitting on a bench, using his mobile phone

There is something quite remarkable going on all around us that is a huge danger to our very human existence, but it is not registering. This has nothing to do with terrorism, racism, or climate change. It has everything to do with a rectangle-shaped incubus sucking out the souls of most people today.

What is it?

Most of us are looking at the world today through a rectangle.

A smartphone, to be more precise.

In American today, over 2/3rd’s of all people now use a smartphone and the percentage just continues to climb. With the younger generations leading the way, I recently heard them called, “Generation Thumb.”

We all know there is a cost to smartphones, but we act helpless.  I am not talking about the the money we spend on these expensive handheld computers or their data plans. I am talking about the cost of the smartphone in terms of human relationship.

If joy is a live, face-to-face encounter with someone else where we are glad to be with each other, then to begin with, we have a less than human experience when we are not talking to a person in person. Instead we have a conversation by texting, or Facebook posts. We may not be communicating at all, but living a shadow existence anonymously online, taking in information like water swirling into a drain.

But, what about the positive aspects of using a smartphone to connect with our friends and loved ones through video like FaceTime or Skype? Better than calling them, I would agree. We do get the opportunity to see their eyes and facial expressions along with words and tone.  But there is more to body language than this. When we are face-to-face live, our entire body is involved in the communication.The giver and receiver find themselves in a nuanced waltz responding to the slightest effect of gesture or glance.

You just can’t do this over a screen.

It is no wonder there appear to be a constant call of alarm in posts and articles concerning the dehumanizing price of staring at the rectangle of our iPhones and Galaxies. Obviously, that’s what I am doing right now.

But, communication with live human contact is not even the biggest problem. The problem that is not registering for most of us is far more sinister with far more of a negative impact down the road. It is the dying out of self-reflection.

Consider this. For most people today from a very early age, every waking minute that is not being taken up by a function or task is being taken up by a screen. You see, whenever we have any down time to ourselves, just sitting or standing around with nothing to do, we aren’t doing much introspection. We are taking these breaks from day-to-day activity and spending them staring at screens. More and more, it is the screen of our very accessible and very addicting smartphone. We are starving ourselves spiritually, morally, and philosophically. I know this sounds a bit extreme, but think about it.

Spiritually, we don’t take the time to think about nothing, a great spiritual discipline related to silence and solitude. What has been called, “soul searching,” has taken on other forms of searching. In our reflective moments instead of simply listening for God, we may be be searching for blogs and articles about God or listening to a quick podcast of someone talking about God. We never seem to just sit there and listen for God.

Morally, as soon as we have any reflective time where it is possible to take personal inventory, it’s back to the screen instead. You don’t have time to check out your attitudes and actions in your relationships when you are checking out how your fantasy football team is doing. Instead of thinking about the abrupt way you handled a conversation with your co-worker this morning, you find yourself checking out the latest Facebook status of someone you knew in high school.

Philosophically, when do I have time to think about deep things during the day, making observations and pondering them? “When?” is a good question because, if I am observing at all, I’m not pondering as much as I am posting. Trying to take a photo and comment on what I see happening around me that has any entertainment or provocative value for my followers and potential followers in real time. Providing witty sound bites so I can get more people to “like” me. I am back to staring at my rectangle again. And the chances are people I am trying to connect with are doing the same. Together we are staring down into the abyss of our non-reflecting souls. We could see this if we actually looked up and if we took 15 seconds to think about it….

But, wait a minute…15 seconds is just about right to find someone ready to play Words with Friends…