Tag Archives: Relationship

Relationship Goals

When I was a teen, someone told me, “You become like those you run with.” When I was a young adult, someone told me, “You show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Then several years later, someone told me, “If you want to soar with eagles, you can’t be scratching around in the dirt with turkeys.” All these reminders have been about the importance of choosing who you choose to hang out with. Either the group you’re with will hold you back or help you get to that next level.

As I’ve lived my life, I can honestly say that these messages are true. Close relationships are the greatest influencers of your success or failure. If you’re constantly failing and are stuck in a bad place, you need to walk away from the relationships that are holding you back. Your life will not change until you change your relationships. If you want your life to improve, associate with people who are ahead of you and are moving in the right direction. This works for spiritual and economic growth as well.

As Paul was grooming Timothy to be a leader, he gave him the same advice. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help” (GNT) Paul wanted Timothy to understand it’s difficult to grow on your own. You need other like minded people who are headed in the same direction to help you get there. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another. You need people around you who will make you sharp.

When coaching or counseling people, I let them know that they need someone ahead of them that they can follow. They need someone beside them that can challenge them. They also need someone behind them that they can help get to the next level. Finding the right relationships is one of the most difficult tasks in life. That’s why it’s preached to you since you were young. It’s never to late to make the changes you need to make. If you’re ready to soar with eagles, spread your wings and leave the turkeys behind.

Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Faithful Friends

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life. 

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How To Be A Better Spouse

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “The Power of a Praying Husband” by Stormie Omartian. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

“If I ever get the chance again, I’m going to put my wife first. I’m going to be the spiritual head of my household. I’m not going to take her for granted. I’m going to be the husband she needs me to be. I’m not going to fight her over things that don’t matter. I’m going to put her needs above my own. I’m going to pray for her daily.” These were promises I made to myself over ten years ago after my ex-wife walked out. I knew the mistakes I had made as a husband and the fruit that it bore was more than I could handle.

I learned a painful lesson in 2003. Afterwards, I had a lot of time to think about how the previous four years had gone, where our relationship turned, things I could have done to avoid where we ended up and what I should have done. I can tell you that could haves and should haves don’t repair broken relationships. As I laid there in that empty bed each night, I replaced the could haves and should haves with promises of what I would do in the future. I mapped out what I needed to do to be a better husband next time. I spent time learning what Paul meant when he said, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”

Ultimately, it boils down to putting your spouse’s needs above your own. You have to sacrifice yourself (what you want) for what’s best for the relationship. Christ could have stayed in Heaven and left us in a broken relationship. He could have divorced us, gone to another planet and started over. He didn’t. He wasn’t content with the way things were. If He had it to do over, He would come down to us, show us the love He’s always wanted to show us and do what was necessary to mend the relationship.

He put aside His pride of being the King of Kings. He laid aside the fact that He was Lord of Lords. He became a helpless human, walked in our shoes, humbled Himself and sacrificed everything for us. He did what’s required of us in any relationship that’s going to work. He put the needs of the relationship above His own needs. He became our advocate and our intercessor. He prays daily to the Father for you and me. In the same way, we have to humble ourselves enough to honor the other person in the relationship. We have to lift them up in prayer daily.

I used to pray that God would change my wife to fit my needs. Now, my prayer is, “Lord, change me and help me to be the husband she needs.” I’ve discovered that when I’m the person my wife needs me to be, she wants to be the wife I need her to be. If the two are ever to become one, they both have to move into the person that the other needs. They have to make decisions based on what’s best for the couple, not the individual. Otherwise, they will always be just two separate individuals who are stick together trying to go in different directions. That won’t work. Trust me, I know.

If you would like to win “The Power of a Praying Husband” by Stormie Omartian, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (March 22, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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What Are You Building?

I was looking at some old photo albums at church last week when I came across one from 1993. It was pictures of my first mission trip where we went to a small village in the heart of Mexico to build a church. Not only was I 20 years younger, I was 20 years skinnier! As I flipped through the pictures, I got excited all over again. I remembered the fun I had, the blessings I received, the people we touched and the work we did. I spent more time on that trip building relationships than building the church building.

That trip not only got me excited for a lifetime of doing missions work, but also taught me the value in building relationships. I believe that the best way to grow the church is through relationships. When you look at the ministry of Jesus, that’s what He did. He went place to place building relationships with the people He came into contact with. He focused His ministry on building the kingdom not buildings.

Paul is another great example of someone who built their ministry on relationships. All the books in the New Testament that he wrote were to people and churches he had relationships with. You can’t speak to people the way he did without having first built a relationship with them. He not only spent time ministering in places he went, he spent time working beside fellow believers. He wasn’t just trying to preach to a large crowd, get an offering and leave. He was investing in the people he was ministering to.

If it was good enough for Jesus and Paul, shouldn’t it be good enough for us today? How many of us truly spend quality time getting to know others we’re ministering to or with? In I Corinthians 3, Paul said that some plant seeds, some water and some harvest. Planting, watering and harvesting are all done through relationships. The harvest doesn’t come unless someone has invested time in a relationship planting seeds and watering them.

If God’s desire is to have a relationship with you and me, shouldn’t we desire to have relationships with others? The underlying story of the Bible is God trying desperately to find ways to connect with us so we can have that relationship with Him. Ministry isn’t only done behind the pulpit. Ministry is done on the streets, in people’s homes, at your job and at dinner tables. Each of us have been called to go and make disciples. Discipleship is done through relationships.

Preachers, evangelists and missionaries aren’t the only ones called to ministry. If you bear the name “Christian”, you are called to ministry. You are called to build relationships. You are called to plant seeds. You are called to water seeds. You are called to harvest. You are called to disciple. You may not think of yourself as a minister, but you are. It is the responsibility of each of us to share what God has done in our lives with others.

What relationships do you have in your life that need work? What relationships in your life have you neglected? Who do you have a relationship with now that needs Jesus? You don’t win them by forcing Him down their throat. You win them through relationship. You win them because you’ve earned the right to share what God has done for you personally. Don’t spend more time building a ministry than you do building relationships. If you build relationships, the ministry opportunities will come.

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A Deeper Answer

Yesterday at work I asked a question to a group of people. A lady answered, but it was only a surface level answer. I prodded her for more to think about what I was asking. I asked her to give me a deeper answer. She sat there with a blank stare for a minute. I offered the question in a different way, but still letting her know I was expecting her to answer. She gave me a “What are you doing” look. I explained, “I’m asking for more from you because what we’re currently doing is not working. If we are to change our results, we have to change how we think and approach the problem.”

I’m kind of in that place right now where God is asking for more from me. I’m the one sitting on the other side of the table with that blank stare saying, “What do you mean ‘more’?” It’s uncomfortable to sit here and not have the answer. To know that somewhere inside me lies the answer and not know how to get it can be disturbing. Knowing that God is waiting makes the situation even more intense.

I wonder if that’s how Peter felt when they were sitting on the shore of Galilee and Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes. You know that I love you.” Jesus responded, “Feed my sheep.” He turned around and asked Peter the same question. I imagine Peter sitting there thinking, “Is He joking? Is this déjà vu?” He amused Jesus by answering a second time exactly as he had the first. Jesus wasn’t content with that. He wanted more. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that He asked him a third time, and again said yes.

There have been many sermons regarding this and I’m not about to preach another one to you. I just want to stop and look at the emotions of what was happening. Jesus was pushing Peter beyond a surface level love. He was ensuring Peter knew in His heart that he loved Jesus because He was about to ask for more. What Peter had done in the past was not going to be good enough for what he was going to do in the future.

If you skip down a couple of verses to John 21:19, Jesus did something I hadn’t noticed. He again called Peter to follow Him. Peter had been called three years earlier to follow Jesus, but this call was different. This “follow me” was into a deeper relationship. One where Peter would be given the responsibility of raising up the early church and leading thousands to Christ. The dynamic of their relationship just changed in that exchange.

That’s where I am right now. Where are you? What is God asking of you? Are you giving Him a surface level answer when He is calling for a deeper more meaningful answer? Are you scared of what “more” means? Me too, but I won’t let that fear keep me from answering His call. I won’t continue to give the answer I’ve always given. I don’t know the answer yet, but I’m willing to follow Him into that deeper commitment until I do.

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The Paradox of Christianity

One of the great paradoxes of Christianity is that we’re to learn to be satisfied with what we have, but not with where we are. Our human nature wants that to be backwards. We like to have the comfort of routine, but are never satisfied with what we have. I’m in that awkward state of making the switch from my human nature to what God wants. I’m learning to be satisfied with what I have, but not where I am. There’s this uncomfortableness inside that says, “There’s another level to go to.”

I think that’s where Abraham’s journey started. God told him, “Get up and go to a land that I will show you.” I’m sure he loved the comfort of where he was. He had everything he needed. He knew the land and the people. But that’s not what God had for him. He asked him to move away from those things that held him down. He challenged him to pick up his roots and to move.

It had to be confusing too. Where was he going? What land was he going to be shown? How long would it take to get there? Would he ever be coming back? When God makes you uncomfortable with where you are, He doesn’t always answer those questions. He expects you to trust Him and His plan. If we knew the details, we’d probably try to alter the plan. I know I would.

So where does that faith come from that allows you to just pick everything up and move? How do you spiritually pack up and move to a deeper walk with Him that requires more than you think you have to give? I don’t know how to get there, but I do know that it starts with just one step. One act of obedience. One decision to make a change. It’s not the easiest thing to do. I think that’s why so many Christians wander in the wilderness and rarely make it to the promised land that God has for them.

Our fears and doubts keep us from experiencing all that God has. Our logic wants to see the whole path. Our faith doesn’t need to see it. We get to choose which of the two we listen to. When spying on the Promised Land, Caleb and Joshua chose to believe their faith. The other spies chose to believe their logic. Because of their choice, an entire generation was kept out of where God wanted them.

So what’s my choice? What’s your choice? Do we continue to go with logic that says we should stay where it’s comfortable and where we feel secure? Or do we go with faith that tells us there is more and is making us uncomfortable in this place? That’s the beauty of who God is, He gives us that choice. He allows us to decide whether we pack our things and walk by faith or stay in the wilderness and camp where it’s comfortable.

As for me, I’m going to pack my bags, pull up my tent stakes and start walking. I don’t know where the path is heading. I just know that I can’t stay here in this place. I’m being drawn into a deeper commitment, a deeper relationship and a deeper walk with God. He is making me too uncomfortable with where I am. He is pushing me out of this place that I’m in. I don’t know where He is leaving yet, but I choose to go with my faith instead of my sight.

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Approachable Jesus

My pastor asked a question last Sunday that still has me thinking about it. He asked, “Are you approachable by the world or are you so self righteous that they want nothing to do with you?” His next point was that Jesus was approachable. So approachable in fact that a prostitute came and washed his feet, a tax collector invited Him into his house and a Samaritan woman brought her whole village out to meet Him. His life wasn’t about showing how much holier He was. It was about showing love to others despite how the world labeled them.

It’s easy to not want to associate with certain types of people. It’s become normal for us to wonder about those who hang out with sinners. Why? I heard Kirk Franklin say, “If everyone I know loves Jesus, I don’t know enough people.” I get it. We need to surround ourselves with other believers and grow in the faith. We also need to make sure we have relationships with those who aren’t believers.

How can we have influence on someone we don’t have a relationship with? Jesus taught in the temples on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week He was in the streets, villages and hillsides building relationships with those who weren’t in the temple. He left the 99 who were safe in the temple to search for that one who would listen outside. He made Himself available to others. He healed those who weren’t religious. If He didn’t, why did He often say, “Go and sin no more”?

We limit God by thinking certain things are only for believers. God wants us to demonstrate His love to all so that none would perish. I was praying this week a prayer that I heard from a friend of mine. The prayer he told me he prays isn’t, “God show me your will and I’ll do it.” He said, “I’ve been praying, ‘God, what are you dreaming of doing? Pick me. I’ll volunteer to make that dream a reality.'”

As I was praying that this week, I asked God, “What do you dream about?” The answer was, “That none should perish.” God’s dream isn’t that we have large churches, debt free buildings or an amazing light show during praise and worship. Are those things great to have? Yes. But are we putting our time, energy and money into building relationships that grow the Kingdom? That’s where God’s heart is.

Today, think about your life. How approachable are you by those outside the church? If an unbeliever is around you at work, are you the type of person they could come to and ask questions about faith? Would you give them the churchy answer? Or do they know you will be real and transparent about your faith? None of us are perfect. We just serve a perfect God and do our best to be like Him. Build relationships. Win the lost. That’s God’s heartbeat.

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Reignite, Renew and Rekindle

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt so close to God and other times when I felt so far away that I didn’t think he could hear my prayers. In my relationship with Him, as in relationships with others, I’ve had to maintain it. There are ups and downs, there have been times when I’ve been upset and angry, there have been times when I’ve been so excited that I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

How about you? Have you experienced that? Have you had to work on your relationship with Him? We all get complacent at times in our relationships whether it is with God or someone else. We have those times when we set it to cruise control and just go with the flow. It’s in those times that our relationship with Him wanes. We get out of touch with God and start to lose our way.

Here are three things I’ve found to reignite that passion in your relationship.

1. Reconnect through communication

The best relationships fail when communication ceases. We’ve all been there where we either don’t know what to say or have just gone so long without saying anything. The good news is that God doesn’t hold a grudge when life gets so busy that we forget to stop and talk with Him. He’s there waiting for you to starts talking.

Talking with God requires time and effort. I remember when I was a kid and would talk on the phone with someone. If I was too nervous about what to say, I’d write a list of topics we could talk about. Talking with God can be that way too. When it has been a while, it’s ok to make a list of what you want to talk about. There are no do’s and don’ts to prayer. It’s just talking to Him however you want.

2. Spend quality time

Quality time is more than just a few minutes a day. It’s about making time for Him and giving up other things you could have done to spend with Him. God wants to make sure your time with Him is well spent. He wants us to come and to spend time with Him daily. He not only wants to hear what you have to say, but He wants you to hear what he has to say.

Quality time is about giving God the ability to speak to you. Many times we go to spend time with Him in prayer or meditation and we don’t even let Him speak. God desires to spend time with you wherever you go. He wants to use situations and things throughout our day to speak to us. There are no relationships that last where you don’t spend time together.

3. Do things for Him

One of the easiest ways to build or reinvigorate a relationship is to do things for them. When you love God, you do things for Him. Look for ways to bless others. It could be paying for someone behind you in the drive through. It could be volunteering at church, a homeless shelter, a food bank or just helping out a neighbor in need. Jesus said when you do something for the least, you do it for Me.

We are not saved by our works, but our works show our faith to others. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. We can show our love for God by doing things for others. We shouldn’t do it to get anything out of it or to be seen by others. When we do it to be seen, we have our reward. When we do it for God, we will be blessed by God.

From my own experiences I can tell you that by doing these three things, you will reignite your passion for God, you will renew your commitment to the Kingdom and rekindle your relationship. If your relationship with God is stagnant right now, I challenge you to try these things and see if it doesn’t make a difference. No matter where we are in our relationship, we all have room for growth.

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