Key #1 – Change your thought pattern
Key #2 - Recruit a spiritual strength team
- Your strength team should be made up of people who will help you rediscover the sacred nature of community and gaining strength from it.
- Your strength team should be made up of a community of people who can edit your life, hold you accountable to the high and lofty values of following Jesus, and help you fulfill that calling.
- Your strength team should be the same gender. If you are woman, then your strength team should be made up of godly women, and if you are a man, your strength team should be made up of godly men. Now this is not to say we can’t gain strength from the opposite sex; I believe we can and do. However, in most cases godly women are able to speak more influentially in the lives of other women, and the same is true of men. Also, this wisdom helps to guard you from falling into temptation.
- Your strength team should make you better, not bitter. Do you have a team of people like this in your life? Who are they? Do these people make you better and more godly? Do they challenge your irrational thinking and behavior? Are they helping you be a godly husband/wife or a sanctified single? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you don’t have a strength team; you may have a “drain team,” a community of individuals who are draining strength from you instead of giving strength to you. If you have a strength team, here are some activity suggestions for your strength team:
- Meet regularly for mutual encouragement, accountability, and prayer
- Do community service with a team (missions projects, ministry teams at church, Habitat for Humanity)
- Join a small group or a ministry team at your church – get connected (Satan loves to isolate us in order to destroy us)
- Join a sports team together (if you are athletic)
- Take fun trips together – shopping, fishing, biking, road trips to other states and countries.
- Do game night, karaoke or movie night (no “I’m so lonely” and “I need a woman/man” movies)
- Laugh a lot
- Make a lot a memories together
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
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Each one of us has experienced, at some point in time, the cold chill and eery desolation of loneliness. We have walked that long, hard, and painful road for a number of reasons:
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Several years ago a man put an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It contained only fifteen words, but it got amazing results. It said: “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without interruption for $5.” It sounded like a joke, but it was “legit.” In fact, some people needed to talk to someone so badly that they called long distance. After the ad ran for several days, the person was receiving 10-20 calls a day. The person who put the ad in the paper realized that this is a lonely world and saw a way not only to make money, but to provide a service to people who were lonely.
- Being separated from cherished relatives and friends may cause loneliness. Friends and/or family members deserting us or betraying us may cause loneliness. Moreover, friends or family members relocating to another city, or being called up for military duty, or leaving home for college or getting married or unfortunately dying, may cause feelings of loneliness.
- Being rejected by others may cause loneliness. When people reject our love, our work, our advice, our abilities, we feel the pain of loneliness.
- Being defamed, disgraced and discredited by others may cause loneliness. Being ridiculed because you are the only Jesus follower on your job may cause loneliness. When we are disgraced or discredited because of our gender or our race, loneliness can penetrate the toughest heart.
- Certain times of the year may cause loneliness. For Paul, winter was probably a difficult time for him. The coming of winter could not doubt be felt in the dark, stony, damp and cold dungeon of his prison cell. Paul seemed to be saying, “I can’t take winter alone.” Psychologists say we go through cyclical times in our lives. When a bad experience occurs, the next year on that date, we subconsciously slump; our minds and hearts simply won’t forget. The holiday seasons are tragically lonely and difficult times for many people.
We handle loneliness in different ways, and sometimes those ways are very destructive. Drinking, drugging, sexing, working, spending, sulking and “pity-partying” away our loneliness are not healthy answers. Many people die lonely, but that does not have to be true of us. Loneliness does not have to be a wasted experience. Some beautiful things can happen to and through us in our loneliness. I am convinced we can unlock the treasure chest of contentment, in the midst of loneliness, by turning five keys. Join me tomorrow as we turn these keys and not let loneliness stop us from living.
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Several years ago Hollywood released a film called the Perfect Storm. It was high impact drama, with a lot of deep waters and dark nights. The interesting thing about this blockbuster was that Hollywood spent an enormous amount of money on a film with no survivors. How sad! I imagine some of you feel like you are going through your own deep waters and dark nights right now. Many more of you feel like your entire life has been one deep water and dark night experience, and you wonder if you will survive. I want to encourage you today. You can survive your deep waters and dark nights by remembering a few lessons that God is teaching me. When I am going through my deep waters and dark nights I have to remember:
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It is no secret that everyone has been impacted by the struggling economy. I would like to hear from you on how you and your family have adjusted your lifestyle during these very difficult times.
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- If yes: then obey God, not man, and be ready to accept the consequences. In cases where you are being asked to do something unethical, your greater responsibility is to God and his values. Now, you might very well lose your job over standing up for what is right, but I am convinced that God will provide for you and your family. The material reward for living right and standing up for truth may not come immediately, but it will come. The immediate reward is obedience to God.
- If no: then obey your boss. If your boss has not asked you to do something unethical, just stupid, then obey your boss. Now, if you have a better idea or a more efficient way of doing the job, then lobby passionately and respectfully for it. Otherwise, respect and obey your boss.
- If yes: then you should probably move on. If you can afford to quit your present job, then you are free to move on and find another or better job. Before you become more bitter, too divisive and a liability to the company, it may be better if you resigned your position and began praying and searching for a different job.
- If no: then you need to make the most of it. If you cannot afford to quit because this is the best possible job you can find right now, or you need the money and the insurance, or you are too close to retirement or you are a few years away from being fully vested or you simply can't afford to relocate, then it is wise that you stay in your present position and make the most of it, with a good attitude (Unless God has given you clear direction to make a move). This will challenge many of you – if you cannot quit because this is the best possible job you can find right now, then you should thank God, and send your employer and boss a "thank you" letter for letting you remain with the company, especially in a struggling economy.
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All right, it is Monday morning and some of you are excited about your job and many more are feeling like this man in the picture. You know, sometimes when we are overworked and unappreciated (I include those who work hard inside the home as well) we have a tendency to, out of frustration and anger, respond in ways that are less than appropriate toward our jobs, bosses, managers, supervisors or family members. Last week I challenged you to remember a couple of things if you are working for TJOTY (the jerk of the year).
If your boss is a jerk, you still have a responsibility to respect and obey because…
Today I want to give you two more reasons:
3. It is the best way to get ahead. Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, said this: “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit. And he who cares for his master (boss) will be honored.” (Proverbs 27:18) What does this mean? Just as nurturing and cultivating a fig tree are necessary if a farmer is to have a good crop of sweet figs, generally, an employee who attends to the needs of his employer will be honored with public affirmation, raises, promotions, and prestigious projects. Now, he is not referring to brown-nosing or kissing up. He means working hard and working well at one’s job will generally bring favorable results. Solomon draws a close connection between economic prosperity and the way you treat others, particularly your bosses. There is nothing more affirming to a boss than to have one of his employees genuinely make him look good in front of his peers and superiors.
4. It is what God says to do. Need I say more? The Bible can say it much better than I can. See Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:25; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:18-21
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How many times is a week have you felt like this woman in the picture – doing a job and working for a boss that sucked? Things don’t always work according to the plan, do they? Some of you are working for bosses or you know someone who is working for a boss, who is a real jerk (and you have heard other expletives too, I imagine). Some of you are just one nerve away from ‘losing your mind and acting a fool up in here, up in here!’ Before you go off and lay your religion down, remember your work is part of your worship and service to God. Soul Man, then what do I do if I am working for TJOTY (the jerk of the year)?
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More than half of American adults do not have wills. What is more disturbing to me is that many of those individuals are Jesus followers. Sometimes, I think we are so focused on preparing for heaven, that they miss being good stewards/managers here on earth. I believe one of the responsibilities of a steward or manager is to alleviate family stress by preparing a will. What are the potential consequences of not planning for the disposition of your estate? The following answers might explain why you and your family might be better off drawing up a will.
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I hope you have enjoyed these last couple of posts; the responses have been overwhelmingly insightful, encouraging, funny and positive. Keep them coming. I really appreciate you taking time to read and comment. As promised, here is the second half (11-20) of What Men Want and Need in Their Women. These are not necessarily in order of importance. Round 2 – ding:
11. We want and need our women to understand that we don’t mind being told we look good; just don’t call it a “cute outfit.”
12. We want and need our women to communicate without being too critical. Men don’t mind being told they’re wrong; they just don’t want to be emasculated in the process. You can tell us when we are wrong, but preserve our dignity and manhood in the process. We want you to communicate with us honestly and lovingly. We want to see our home as a refuge, not the boxing ring at Caesar’s Palace. Ladies, tone in everything. The Bible talks a lot about how the tongue can build up or tear down.
13. We want and need our women to be faithful and committed in the relationship. Faithfulness is an absolute must. In fact, men want a woman who does not have a “roaming eye” and who can wholeheartedly commit to the relationship. Commitment is faithfulness plus the willingness to work on the relationship, even when things get really rough. See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
14. We want and need our women to know how men need to be treated. Many women treat men in ways that diminish their egos, making them feel inadequate. Men would rather have more praise and more acknowledgment of what they do right rather than what they’re doing wrong. We want more acknowledgment that we are great guys who are loved and appreciated. We shut down when we are taken for granted and compared to other men.
15. We want and need non-sexual affection, too (Whoa! Did I just say that?) Really, there is something fulfilling and satisfying about long walks in the park, snuggling up on the couch together watching our favorite movie, escaping to coffee houses and jazz clubs, receiving an email or call in the middle of the day, or an “I was just thinking about you gift.” We want and need private and personal time alone with our women, not just for sex.
16. We want and need our women to be emotionally stable and physically attractive. Men are attracted to women who are developing themselves and growing personally – reading, thinking, questioning, and even keeping up with current events. We want women who are not needy and clingy and helpless without us. Also, we want and need our women to look good. I am not talking about supermodel attractiveness, but I am talking about maintaining an attractive appearance – getting your hair done, keeping your nails and toes manicured, and working hard to maintain that girlish figure.
17. We want and need our women to be godly women. There is something absolutely exciting and attractive about a woman who is following Jesus in her daily life. When Tonia wakes up in the morning and she is praying and reading her Bible to get direction from God, that is a turn on to me, not in a sexual way, but in a godly, beautiful way. When I know she is praying for me and when I hear her praying for me, I feel like I can move mountains. There is something cleansing about it.
18. We want and need our women to listen and treat us with respect. The Bible is very clear about the role of the wife and the role of the husband (Ephesians 5:22-33). The role of the man is to love his wife like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and the wife’s role is to respect her husband. When there is a break down in these roles, the relationships gets on this crazy cycle of the man acting in unloving ways and the wife acting in disrespectful ways. The cycle will continue until someone is mature enough to apologize and forgive.
19. We want and need our women to support us at home, work and play. There is something energizing about the support and cheers of our number one cheerleader. When Tonia tells me that that was a great sermon or article or you “kicked butt” at the karate tournament or “Baby, I’m proud of you!”, that is the wind beneath my wings that causes me to soar. A man needs to know that if no one else will support his efforts and even his wild and crazy ideas and ventures (barring those ideas don’t bankrupt the family), he needs to know that he has the support of his woman. A man needs to hear that his woman is proud of him.
20. We want and need you to know that we truly desire to follow Jesus and lead our families. Each man grows and progresses at his own pace. Don’t nag him to be someone he’s not. Here is a tip: pray that God will surround him with strong and godly men to help him fill up some of the spiritual gaps in his life. Men tend to follow other godly men they respect and love.
There you have it, my brothers and sisters. This is, by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it does cover the bases fairly well. Tell me what you think. Type your comments directly in Typepad. Watch out for the next post – What Kids Want and Need from Their Parents.
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