Archive for the tag “relationships”

A Study in Ephesians 5:15-17

Ephesians 5:15-17 – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

What is one of your biggest issues?

If you are like most people you might say technology.

Most relationships today are encumbered by our desire to stay connected with everyone at every moment. This leads to people “fasting” from technology. Typically someone will fast from social media or internet or TV for a week or two and then get back into it.

It is understandable why we are addicted to technology. We have such an interdependence on it for our personal lives, our work, and even our entertainment. Many people have their laptops on their laps all day and all evening long.

Like any tool, the internet or cell phone can be misused. When it gets misused, it invades our private moments and it contaminates our relationships.

There is a reason that Paul told the Ephesian church to make “the most of every opportunity.” Paul instructs the church to not be foolish and understand God’s will. You see, the Ephesian church was just like us. They were just as distracted as we are today.

Distraction is a human issue, not a technology issue.

If you read the surrounding verses to 15-17 you realize that there were several things that distracted the church: sexual immorality, covetousness, foolish talk, crude jokes. But look at something else, Paul isn’t just telling them what to stay away from, he is telling them what to focus on in order the keep the bad stuff from taking over.

I like some other translations here as well. For example, the KJV uses the phrase “redeeming the time.” When looking at the original Greek it is literally translated as “buying up for yourselves the opportunity.”

What opportunity is Paul talking about?

The opportunity to find wisdom.

Wisdom is not just learning about the will of God but pursuing it with all you are. A few verses later we are told that this pursuit is done through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”

Paul understood that life is short and there is a lot of work to do in the gospel. Unfortunately, humans tend to drift toward foolishness and not wisdom. We drift toward distraction.

Paul’s words have significant implications for our relationships. We are told to steward our time wisely and guard our hearts against the distractions.

What will you celebrate 20 years from now? Will you celebrate that you check your email or Facebook or posted that selfie to Instagram? Or will the quality moments spent, in person, with those we love be what we remember the most?

Listen to Paul. Spend your time wisely, not following distractions. Enjoy your bride or husband. Enjoy your children. Enjoy your families and friends.

Do it all without the distraction of the cell phone or social media. Get off the long hours of video games and spend that time with your family. Stop binge watching shows on Netflix and take a walk with your loved ones.

So, what does this look like?

It is important to set clear, immovable boundaries. I will go on record and say that I have not done this yet. I am praying for God to show me the right time to roll this out to the family. Some may sound pretty radical, but to an addict, removing the items of addiction is pretty radical and will never work.

  • When on a date with your loved ones, turn off the phone. I understand that parents with kids may need to have a phone in case of emergency, but leave it for emergency only.
  • Make dinner a completely unplugged time. Phones stay in the bedrooms, all computers are turned off before dinner, and the TV is off.
  • In the morning only grab your phone or computer once everyone has had breakfast and you have had your time in the Word and in prayer. Again, I understand because I use my phone for my Bible. But if you find it too tempting to click into Facebook or emails while reading the Bible on your phone, then it is time to go back to a paper Bible and leave the phone turned off.

This might sound like I am telling us to go backward in time before we had all this. In some way I am, but in reality I want us to understand that the internet, social media, TV, and other technologies are simply tools that we have to master or they can very easily master us.

Love Cyanide

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hurting those we love.

Humanity is filled with examples of hurting each other, especially the ones we love.

Too often we proclaim our love for a spouse, child, or friend and then turn around and poison the relationship with what I like to call “love cyanide.”

Just what is cyanide?

Historically, cyanide has been used as a chemical weapon. It is also used in pesticides, plastics, and mining. When shocking a pool to get it ready to swim in, cyanide can be produced in low levels. It is also found in smoking.

One important note about cyanide is that “lethal doses of cyanide results only from accidents or intentional acts.”

Once the body is exposed to cyanide, the chemical quickly enters the bloodstream. The body tries to convert the chemical to a less lethal chemical called thiocyanate. As the doses build up, however, the body’s ability to convert cyanide to something less lethal gets overwhelmed. Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen, causing the cells to die. The heart, respiratory, and central nervous system are most affected by cyanide poisoning.

What are the effects of cyanide poisoning? Some of the more profound are: weakness or confusion, sick to your stomach, difficulty breathing, and cardiac arrest.

The quickest way to treat cyanide poisoning is to get away from the poison and into fresh air.

We could easily remove cyanide from those notes above and replace them with the words “disrespect” or “dishonor” or “loving poorly.” If we do that, then we see the effects that disrespect or dishonor have on relationships.

Romans 12:18-20 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

It is like a love cyanide.

Many times, we use our love as a chemical weapon. We withhold our true love from someone in order to see them act or behave the way we desire before we will show them love. We expect a person to love us first before we’ll love them completely.

That is a weapon.

But we also hurt those we love accidentally. I know with my children that I have, at times, not lived up to a promise or hurt them in some way through my words or actions. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. At that moment, my love to them is more like cyanide.

We either intentionally or accidentally poison those we love. Just like cyanide.

Humans are resilient, though. We tend to stay in those cyanide relationships for long periods of time. We think that things will get better or that it will change. What might have started as a small dose of love cyanide turns into the doses building up in our systems.

We are made for relationship. With relationship comes pain from time to time. You will never love anyone perfectly. Our bodies are made to handle small doses of love cyanide. But extended and large doses of it can destroy who we are as humans. It will bring on depression and walls around our hearts.

When we have been affected by too much love cyanide, we feel weak and confused, sick to our stomach. With depression and anxiety comes difficulty breathing. And like the chemical cyanide can cause cardiac arrest, love cyanide can cause broken hearts.

What is the quickest way to get rid of love cyanide poisoning?

Well, unlike the chemical, many times we can’t simply walk away from the people we love. It is why the divorce rate is so high, even among Christians. We see our feelings as more important as those we love.

But you can’t just leave family and friends.

Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

So I want to look at the “fresh air” idea a different way.

Instead of getting away into fresh air like you would with the chemical, the best way to cure love cyanide poisoning is to clear the air. Discuss the issues with the person you are having those issues with.

So why do I bring all this up?

As Christians our job is to not only love God and love others. Our job is to accept sanctification. Sanctification means that we are set apart for God and for those we love. But sanctification is also defined as a process of transformation.

If we are the cause of love cyanide, then we need to seek God more. We need to strive to become more like Him.

God gives us unconditional love.

We will never be perfect at giving unconditional love, but we need to try.

And in the times we get it wrong? We need to be the first to repent of our errors. If we hurt someone, even accidentally, we need to stand up and repent.

Building love cyanide into a relationship will not only hurt the relationship, but it will destroy the people in the relationship.

We need to build love, without the cyanide. Provide living water without the poison. Be sanctified and drive to love like Christ loves us.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.


Objects in the Mirror….

Philippians 3:13 – Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

Let me start this post by saying to the married guys out there, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE!
The main reason we, as Christians, propose “til death do you part” marriage is because it is Biblical.

But, as a divorced man, I am starting to understand the reasons behind that. It is very much like driving a car. As you are driving the speed limit, you begin to see that car speeding up “on your left.” (that was an inside joke that only Mimi and her boys will understand) As that car gets closer, you think it is a few car lengths behind you, but it is really right on you and you run the risk of an accident if you change lanes.  Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

And that is just how it is with past marriages.

You might think that the past is far behind you, but it is really much closer than it appears.

I want to share my story here for those who might be going through something similar. But I want to preface this that I am currently in the throes of this and haven’t always made the right decisions or act in a loving manner. Also keep in mind that the effects of divorce will most likely last your entire life. There will be some good growth that comes from it, but there will also be negative baggage as well.

When my marriage ended years ago, I remember pleading with my now ex to just let me in. There were many nights I cried to her and to God for just to be included in what she was thinking, what she was doing. I had spent years not including her into my life, and when it came down to the end, she wouldn’t let me into her life.

Fast forward to the present.

Matthew 6: 31-34 – Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Mimi and I have been dating, pretty hardcore now for almost 2 years since we first claimed the status of “in a relationship.” But, about a year and a half ago, Mimi moved to the area. She was going to move to Virginia anyway, but a few months after that, to ramp up the relationship, she moved to Maryland, about 10 miles from me.

She gave up everything to move here.

When she did, I almost immediately put the brakes on the relationship. Not completely, but I would not let her and her family into my family completely. It took me almost 6 months to invite her to one of my kids’ soccer games.

Soon after moving here, Mimi started asking me to let her completely into my family. Unfortunately, I was scared. Just as my ex would not let me into her life, I would not let Mimi into mine.

That has been one of the factors that have led to our recent issues.

Mimi is a wonderful woman. I am very blessed to have been brought together with her. And because of the baggage that we both have from our past broken marriages, our relationship is at risk.

That is a painful place to be.

You see, since I was completely broken by my ex not letting me into her life even though I begged for it, I must have subconsciously told myself that I would not let myself be hurt like that ever again. Unfortunately, when we do that, we end up hurting others because of our walls.

I owe Mimi an apology for the wall I have in my heart. Regrettably it is a wall I never would have really found until I was in a serious relationship. But it is a wall nonetheless.

Moving forward, I am unsure of the future of Mimi and me. It is something we have been discussing a lot lately. And it is a discussion we need to be having.

So how does one move forward?

Well, I honestly believe that marriages are meant to be forever. God put that plan in place, I believe, because of the damage divorce does to his creations. It causes significant pain. It causes us to build walls that we may not even know we have until we need to confront them.

But what about if you are already divorced and dating someone?

First and foremost, give it to God. God is the only one who can show you where the walls are and how to take them down.

Second, stay close to the person you love. If you begin to break each other down, then that leads to a vicious cycle that is hard to end.

Finally, study the Word and learn about what love is. If you fortify your heart and soul with the constant definition of love, then you will practice it, even when your walls are trying to block it.

So I hope my story helps others a little. I don’t know how this story will end, so hopefully I will post another update near the end of the summer. And hopefully we will have a happy ending to this story.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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