Matthew 5:23-24 

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Dr. Marcus Warner speaks of four simple strategies to help us get started in learning to remain relational. He uses the acronym, CAKE.

Curiosity- “I’m curious…”

You can test whether your relational circuit is on or off by your curiosity level. You are interested in what is going on inside someone else and what would help them connect relationally. Opposite of sarcasm. “I’m curious why you’re such a putz.”

Appreciation- When you share appreciation you will see more good. When you criticize you will see more bad.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process, your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Kindness- Doing things that create joy in someone else. In the process your joy grows, as well. Shared joy when you are glad to be with someone.

Envelope Conversation- Start with the history of the importance of the relationship. Then discuss a problem you are having. Describe the problems in the most productive and least harmful way. Then, realize your hope that the relationship will be even stronger once the problem is solved.

Recognize your own anger, especially anger in search of a story. Anger looking for a story gets amplified.

Anger is not voluntary. It is part of the fast track of our brain. This is why we develop  habits which make it possible for us to be relationally angry or we can work around it in a healthy way.

One work-around Dallas Willard highlighted is to become the kind of person who did not get angry. He would say, “There is nothing you can do out of anger that you can’t do better without it.”

And if you do experience anger, how do you know you are dealing with it in a relational way God advocates? You will know you have dealt with anger God’s way when there is no collateral damage.


When is the last time you saw anyone in the media and entertainment industry handle anger in a godly relational way? Could this be a trick question?


Ephesians 4

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Anger is not necessarily sin, but as I recently heard, “it has a short shelf life.” This is why Paul is telling us to get rid of it. The less joy we have, the more anger. And anger becomes a real problem because it quickly turns off the relational circuits. The problem with anger is it can never be tamed, it has to be guarded against.

We need to be able to stay in relationship without being angry. Why? Because judgment is a sin. Discernment is trying to figure something out together, but judgment is when you are self-righteous and condemning. These are the results of staying angry. When you are judgmental you are non-relational. And when you are non-relational, when your RC’s are shut down, you can’t be fully loving. And you can’t relate with Jesus at the time you are angry, so you don’t even have access to what he has available that could help.

Think of the internet. Much of communication via the Internet is not communication at all. Facebook might proclaim they will, …help you connect and share with people in your life,” but that is not usually the case.

The internet is overwhelmingly non-relational and fosters so much anger and judging. This is why when you use the internet thinking you are building relationship you practice very risky behavior. Much of what transpires on social media becomes anger quickly. Society speaks so often about the dangers of practicing “unsafe” sex, but practicing “unsafe anger” doesn’t seem to be on our radar at all. And it can be just as dangerous as unsafe sex in the long run.


What internet/ social media guidelines can you use to practice safe communication?


1 Corinthian 13

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

Imagine an on/off switch on the back of your neck. This is your relational circuit. When the switch is turned “ON” you are in synch with the people around you emotionally. Able to relate. When the switch is “OFF,” your capacity to remain relational disappears. TYour relational circuits or “RC’s” are shut down. Dr. Karl Lehman has identified some tests to see if your relational circuits are shut off.

Signs you have shut down relationally

1. You don’t feel like being around someone you normally like.

2. You just want to make a person or a problem go away.

3. Your mind is locked on to something upsetting.

4. You become aggressive in the way interrogate, judge, or fix people.

5. You don’t want to make eye contact.

6. You feel like it is their fault if they get hurt by something you do or say.

You can relate to others if your “RC’s” are shut off. It just won’t be pleasant or helpful. It will simply bring grief.


When are you most vulnerable to having your “RC’s” shut off?


Tuesday, October 25

Philippians 4

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

How do you map out your world? There are two general ways you can do this.

  1. Fear-based people will map their world around problems that need to be solved. Their brains lock in on whatever is scary or potentially bad in their environment. This is what gets all their attention. They will always find something wrong.
  2. Joy-based people will map their world around what is good in their lives. They fix their minds on what they appreciate. Like Paul says in Philippians, “…things want are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When you are a joy-based person, you don’t ignore your problems. You just learn how to solve problems in a way that makes your relationships stronger.

Emotionally immature people will make their relationships the problem that needs to be solved. Like co-dependent people who will actually bond over fear of losing the relationship. In these cases, if the relationship is ended, then real problems do occur. Like prolonged and bitter lawsuits, violence, and yes, even death. “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”

Joy-based life is true life.


Are you more fear-based in your approach to life, or more joy-based? Choose joy


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.


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?