Cravings, and Lusting and Boasting, Oh My!

1 John 2:15-17Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The allure of the world is strong, but deceptive. Worldly things will eventually disappoint and ultimately will not last. The things of God in our life will never disappoint, and will last forever.

My Advice – Be careful of what you set your affections on. Make sure that your love of worldly things does not take the place of God in your heart.

The Word Lives In You

1 John 2:14I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We overcame the devil when we accepted Christ. We no longer need to submit to his temptations. That does not stop him from trying. But we have the strength to resist because God’s Word lives in us.

My Advice – Continue to be strong in the Lord, because His Word lives in you.

Walk This Way

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1 John 2:6Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Those who claim to know Jesus as Savior, but who continue to live a rebellious life are likely not saved at all.

My Advice – Continue to follow in His steps, giving evidence that your life is in Him.

Trustworthy Wounds

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Proverbs 26:20-28, 27:6Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.  As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.  The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; They go down to a man’s inmost parts.  Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.  A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.  If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.  A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  (NIV 1984)

Proverbs 12:15-19The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.  (NIV 1984)

Learn to Argue – People generally quarrel because they cannot argue. (G.K. Chesterson)

The Art of “Arguing” – People who are skilled at dialogue have the confidence to say what needs to be said to the person who needs to hear it [not behind their back – “words of a gossip are like choice morsels“], without brutalizing them or causing undue offense [“wounds from a friend can be trusted“]. But this confidence does not equate to arrogance, pigheadedness, threats, accusations or disrespect. They are humble enough to realize that they do not have a monopoly on the truth.

There are five distinct skills that can help us talk [argue] about even the most sensitive topics:

Share your facts – Facts are the least controversial way to begin a crucial conversation, because facts by their very nature are uncontroversial. Be careful to not “spin” the facts, embellish the facts or omit facts (“the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”). This will derail a crucial conversation before it even gets started. “speak the truth (facts) in love.” Do not rub their nose in it. Facts are the most persuasive and the least insulting.  They form a foundation believability, that lays the groundwork for all delicate conversations. But make sure they are facts and not conclusions. That comes next.
Tell your side of the story – With the facts properly laid out, you can tell your side of the story. The conclusions you have drawn. If you have thought through the facts, your conclusions (story) should be viewed as reasonable, rational, decent and deserving of being considered.
Ask for others’ views – If done sincerely, this demonstrates humility. Be open to having your mind changed. If your aim is to be “right” and win the “fight” you are not being sincere.  If your aim is to determine what is right and walk in the light, you just might find that you were wrong and fighting the wrong battle.
Talk tentatively – Do not share the facts or tell your story in a dogmatic fashion. One of the ironies of dialogue is that, when talking to those holding opposing positions, the more convinced and forceful you act, the more resistant others become. The more tentatively you speak, the more open people are to your story and conclusions. But you don’t need to be wimpy either. Strike a just right “Goldilocks” balance. Just because you back off on how you state your beliefs, does not mean you have to back off on your beliefs.
Encourage testing – At this point, you can argue as vigorously as you want for your point of view, provided you are just as vigorous at encouraging others to challenge or even disprove it. Remember, the truth is never afraid of open and honest dialogue. It is okay to have strong opinions and vigorously defend them. Just remember that the other person is entitled to the same. (Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012)

If we S-T-A-T-E things this way, we improve the odds of having a favorable outcome.  Even if we do not win or change your mind, we can still agree to disagree and preserve the relationship.

My Musings – If the beliefs we hold are the truth, we want others to believe them too.  How we present our case can go a long ways toward convincing the other.  Done thoughtfully and caringly, even if we lose the “argument,” we are more likely to at least win respect and preserve the relationship.  And that respect, might eventually carry the day.  On the other hand, if done thoughtlessly and uncaringly, even if we win the “argument” respect and the relationship may be permanently damaged.

My Advice – Do not merely argue the truth, argue it in a thoughtful and caring way

Turn His Face

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Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”  (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Think about this for a moment.  God.  The Creator. Eternally existent. All powerful. Glory so magnificent and awesome that no one in the flesh can gaze upon Him and live. He needs nothing that we could possibly give Him, yet He longs for us.  A longing so deep that He sent His only Son to dies for us.  He turns His face towards us and shines upon us.  He graciously redeems us, who otherwise are unredeemable. He blesses us, who otherwise deserve a curse.  He will never grow tired of us, but will keep us close to Himself for all eternity to come.

My Advice – Be a peace in these thoughts.

 

No Darkness At All

1 John 1:5This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Unlike the “force” there is no dark side to God.

My Advice – Defend the faith. Do not let anyone portray God as unjust without standing up for Him.

The Day Will Come

2 Peter 3:3&10First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The promise will be fulfilled. The scoffers may cause many to stop looking and to be less vigilant in their expectation. It is when the guard is down and he is unexpected that the “thief” comes.

My Advice – Do not be dismayed when people say such things. It is not an indication that Jesus is not returning, rather it is a sign that the day is rapidly approaching.