Me: “How are you doing this morning?”
Me: “I find it hard to get going so early in the morning.”
Coworker: “Oh, I am a morning person; I’m up at 4:00 anyway so if I come into work at 9:00, I have already worked a full morning at home.”
Me: “I get up at 5:15 a.m. to come to work each day and after 6 years on the job, it’s still a struggle. I guess I’m not meant to be a morning person.”
I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me take a moment to time travel. When I was a child my family lived down the road from the bus driver. This meant that I was the first person to board the bus each morning (unless the bus driver’s granddaughter had stayed at his house). I lived on a gravel road in the backcountry of West Tennessee. I was on the bus between 1.5 to 2 hours each morning. This meant that I was waiting on the bus around 6:15 a.m. I can remember many mornings of awakening between 5:00 and 5:30, getting ready and standing in the cold, dark morning air awaiting a bus that would pass by my house if I wasn’t out there but could be anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes late even though I was the first stop. I remember standing by my mailbox one morning and watching the bus pass right on by because he had not seen me. Those were not happy times for me. One of my biggest memories is the constant thought I had as a child that I would not ever work at a job that required me to be up before the sun. I figured that I would have the freedom to make that decision when I grew up and holding on to that hope kept me going on many of those cold, dark mornings. In case you think I am exaggerating about my morning moods, I distinctly remember that my parents had a difficult time getting me up. I slept through the alarms and my mother had somehow developed a way to awaken me. I can remember her needing to work a late shift at work and dad being the one to wake me up. He would either drag me out of bed or pour water on me. I was not a happy camper in the mornings and to say I detested the morning would be a vast understatement.
Now I am an adult and guess what? I get up at 5:15 each morning to get ready for work. You would think that having done so for so many years as a child it would be easy now but it is not. I don’t need water splashed on me and I don’t get dragged out but my wife gently pushes on my arm a few times to get me rolling. I have a system… I stumble (and I mean literally stumble) to the bathroom, proceed to shower and shave. I have some of that expensive men’s shampoo and conditioner that tingles (no not the dandruff stuff, this is the stuff that comes from the salon). I also use a strong men’s body wash because I have found the strong smells tend to help awaken my senses. I somehow manage to shave, brush my teeth and get dressed in clothing that I preselected the night before. Choosing my clothing in the morning would be unwise, to say the least. After getting dressed, I get my morning coffee, clamber into the car and drive in the darkness for 30 minutes. You may want to stay off the road at that time if you live in southern Illinois – just kidding; I manage to stay alert while driving. I arrive at work around 6:30 and generally start working on reports or visiting with my staff – it all depends upon my level of alertness. Usually by 7:00 or 7:30, I feel alright and manage to make it through the rest of the day.
I managed to not live up to my childhood dream of not getting up early. I have come to realize it’s my ‘thorn in the flesh.’ For those not versed in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks about his ‘thorn in the flesh’: “ So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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.”
Now I know that there will be some out there who will get all religious and pompous and will tell me that it is all about my attitude. They will try to guilt me into liking the mornings by telling me that I should be thankful and need to spend it in prayer and reading my Bible; that each morning is a gift. People who give that advice generally come from one of two groups: 1.They happen to be morning people and have no clue what it is like for those of us who are built differently or 2. They don’t get up early themselves, but somehow think they are experts about morning attitudes. You do sometimes meet a convert who hated the a.m. but somehow learned to love it. Those people inspire me and because of them I have tried more than once to genuinely love the morning. I have focused on having the right attitude, tried to pray – although I could never seem to concentrate deep enough to do so – attempted to read but actually the prayer and reading just made me sleepier. I am a deep sleeper and getting up early just messes it all up – it always has. And yes, I do go to bed earlier but that doesn’t really help much either. Unless God works a miracle, I am just not a morning person.
It’s my thorn in the flesh, but that’s okay. Paul wanted his thorn removed and pleaded with God to do so. God chose not to remove it, but instead reminded Paul about grace. Paul decided to boast in his weakness, to be content with it and to remember that his strength comes from the Almighty. I will do the same. Mornings may not be my friend, but I can still have victory over them and I have a daily reminder that God has given me grace and He makes me strong. What’s your ‘thorn in the flesh?’
Do we really care about other people? It seems I get inundated with requests to donate money to help out people in need each year around this time. My wife and I decided a few years back that we would teach our kids about giving each Christmas and pick a charity to support. This year we each made shoebox gifts for children in need who live in the Appalachian Mountains. It has been a very rewarding experience and we are thrilled to have this opportunity, but I am sitting here and wondering if I really care.
Did you notice that I earlier used the word ‘inundated?’ I know that carries a negative connotation and I used it deliberately. I used it because it is a proper description of how I often feel. I know that I cannot financially help every charity. That isn’t what bothers me though. What really troubles me is how stagnant my reaction is to the suffering of others. It seems that with each image I see or paragraph I read I become more desensitized. I know that children are dying and understand that buying a goat and chickens can help feed a village in a third world country. I am very aware that the large cause of death in the world is lack of access to clean drinking water, but I seem to not feel it anymore. Those images and words that once tugged at my heartstrings seem to do very little these days.
I’m just being honest here, but I seem more concerned with how uncomfortable I feel in cold weather – even with my warm clothes and dry, heated buildings – than I am with the real suffering of others. I easily become obsessed with my distaste for winter and desire for the warmth of summer while there are people dying due to their exposure to the elements. I am no longer ‘distracted’ by people who beg for food because I have become very accustomed to ignoring them. I wonder if I would even send shoebox gifts to financially disadvantaged children if it didn’t make me feel good or serve as a ‘teachable moment’ to my children.
I am an average American. The citizens of this great country provide much to those in need but I wonder if we really care. Are we working in a soup kitchen because we care or because we feel it’s an obligation? Do we give to the Salvation Army because we understand the plight of those they serve or do we just feel guilty when we don’t? If those children we send shoe boxes to were our own, would it make a difference? I think we often have done the right thing but quite possibly not for the right reason. How often have you donated something knowing you could count it as a deduction on your taxes? How often have you gone Christmas shopping and were more concerned about what you were going to buy for yourself or your family than what you were going to provide to someone in need?
I think most Americans are guilty of this but we shouldn’t be. Just because the majority of people are desensitized does not make it a societal mandate. Let’s make a goal together this year. I propose we decide to search our hearts and rekindle the emotions inside our beings. Don’t be afraid to look at the images of the starving children, it’s okay to cry when you realize how desperately they need your help. It’s alright to have compassion; in fact I think it’s necessary. Don’t let this Christmas pass by without taking some time to find love in your heart. When you start to complain about how cold you feel in your winter coat or sitting in your heated leather seat, instead take some time to think about the homeless man or woman who lives in the cold and doesn’t even own a decent pair of shoes. Maybe she wouldn’t be complaining if she were sitting in your place.
None of us enjoy admitting our flaws. We often like to pretend that we have no flaws. Other people need to make changes but we are perfect, right? I am sure that everyone who reads my blog is the absolute picture of perfection.
That is simply not true. It’s not true for you and it’s not true for me. I have flaws; some that I am aware of and others that I am blind to, but I have a many things I should change about my life. Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I am going to confess one of my flaws and it may surprise some of my readers.
I can be a very critical person. I can be critical of myself and others. I’m pretty good and looking at the glass as half full, or at least appearing to do so, but my first response is often to criticize. I admit that there is a little Jerry Seinfeld floating around in my subconscious. I judge people who maintain poor hairstyles, wear unmatched or dated clothing, or just don’t live up to their potential. I am also critical about projects. I expect the worst from a new change at work or look for the problems when asked to do an assignment. I’m great at noticing crooked pictures on the wall or layers of dust on the shelf and quick to point it out to those closest to me. I think it is my way of measuring up my environment and making myself feel superior in some lowly fashion. .. In case you are wondering, I am already criticizing today’s article.
Thanksgiving can often be hard for those of us that lean toward criticism. We expect the weather to be bad, problems with the food, arguments with the family, etc. We look for the inconsistencies and miss the point of Thanksgiving – being thankful.
Today I confess my flaw and I am making a commitment to focus on those thinks I am thankful for. I am not going to nitpick this Thanksgiving; I’m going to enjoy time with my family. I am going to be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for and giving thanks is always better than giving criticism.
How about you, will you be thankful this year?
Last week I talked about one of the fundamental rules of customer service – treat your customer how you would want to be treated. (If you did not get a chance to read the blog I encourage you to click on the link and give it a read.) Much of our industry has moved from a product to a service based economy. To explain, people often don’t buy a product due to how well it performs, but they instead buy it based upon the service they receive. Think about McDonald’s for example. They put out mediocre food but stay on top of the other fast food chains. The big reason is because the company understands its customers. They know people want their food fast and with a smile. They even build their restaurants based upon societal interests. Many McDonald’s look like the burger version of Starbucks with brown leather-like chairs, tables for netbooks or iPads and free wifi. Speaking of Starbucks, they are another example of an industry that has grown because they understand and meet the needs of their customers.
Think about all the industries that now cater to customers. I work in healthcare and I can tell you we have become very patient focused as an industry. Our patients are our customers and we strive to do everything we can to meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Social media – customer focused. In writing my blog I must think about my audience and do my best to meet their expectations.
One thing that still amazes me is how people often have no idea that customer service is extremely important. I think there needs to be a class in school that focuses on customer service because it seems that many people could stand to learn the importance of meeting their customers’ needs. Today I will give you a crash course on some laws of customer service. Consider this the Cliffs Notes version.
The 5 Simple Laws of Customer Service
- Live by the Golden Rule - treat you customer how you would want to be treated.
- Smile - Smiles are contagious and disarming. Smiling will brighten your attitude and often your customer’s as well.
- It’s not about you - The customer most likely does not care how you feel or what your day has been like. They are paying your company for your service, not your complaints.
- The Customer is NOT Always Right - Unlearn the misinformation about the customer always being right. This just is not true. You may work at a store that only sells shoes and you have a customer who brings in a t-shirt and says he bought it at your store and wants a refund. The customer is not right and it is not your responsibility to refund him for a product he obviously did not buy from you. What we should be taught is to always RESPECT the customer and find a way to serve them. You may be tempted to say, “You idiot, we don’t sell shirts!!” but that would be a mistake. It would be better to say, “I am sorry sir, but we don’t sell shirts at our store. There is a shirt store with a similar name on the other side of the mall. Is it possible that you purchased your shirt there?” In this way you are respecting the customer and working with him to try to help him resolve his dilemma.
- Don’t be Fake - I once heard a customer service training company teach a mantra that simply stated, “Fake it till you make it.” I hated that slogan because it seemed to be in great error. To fake something is an act of deception. It’s similar to lying. It is a word that carries negative connotations and just should not be paired with customer service. If you cannot muster up enough fortitude to treat your customer with respect, you probably should not work in a position that requires customer service. Don’t be Fake, but do your best. I think most of us can authentically treat our customers well when we focus on their needs.
This is just a snapshot and not an overall training of good customer service. I think that if everyone who works in the service industry would learn these 5 simple laws, however, they would perform well at their jobs.
The first two weeks of the South Beach Diet requires participants to resist carbs and sugar. The most difficult part of doing this is resisting carbs and sugar. I have long been skeptical of low carb diets. I always stated that they had to be unhealthy because people on them would fill up on steak and bacon. I would state this while drinking my Coca-Cola, eating a cheeseburger and finishing off with a donut. The truth is that I was skeptical because I LOVE carbohydrates. I can easily go without meat or vegetables. I often joked that I could do an all carb diet. I could easily live on potato chips, sweet tea, spaghetti and bread.
I now find myself saying ‘no’ to offers of free donuts or cake. I don’t remember being offered so much free sugary, high carb food as I have over the last week. I have been able to resist mainly because I have seen dramatic results. I mentioned yesterday that I lost 5 lbs in less than one week. In addition to that, I have more energy, don’t tire as quickly and am no longer relying on caffeine to get me by. I get up at 5:30 each morning to go to work. That has been an excuse for me to load up on caffeine for a long time. My crutch used to be a 32 ounce Coke, but I gave up soda two months ago. I then started getting a 32 ounce ‘half-cut’ tea from McDonalds’s as my morning pick-me-up. I justified that it was ‘healthier’ because it was tea and only had half the sugar. This week I started off with an unsweetened tea. It just wasn’t the same. The last two days I just drank water and noticed that my energy level was no lower than when I drank the tea. (I also found out that our local McDonald’s uses decaf in their unsweetened tea so it wasn’t giving me a ‘caffeine’ high anyway.) I no longer need a sugary drink to get me through the day.
I also feel better about myself. It seems crazy but my physical appearance changed almost immediately. I’m lighter on my feet and just feel more like I can accomplish more.
I do want to make one thing clear. I am not saying that I think everyone needs to try the South Beach diet. If you do need to go on a diet, this may or may not be right for you. I am not a dietician, but I think each diet has differing effects on the person trying it. I counted calories for months with no change. This system worked more me years ago, but it just didn’t work anymore. I think it’s because I still indulged in empty sugary calories. As a result I now have a slightly high glucose level. I need to cut most of the sugar and carbohydrates out of my diet to prevent myself from becoming a diabetic. For that reason, this is the right diet for me. Carbohydrates and sugar are my kryptonite. This diet is helping me overcome those habits that could eventually kill me. You may have a different vice and need to be on a different diet.
I will say this – eat healthy and exercise. Even on my current diet I don’t fill up on high fattening meats. I eat lean cuts of chicken, turkey, fish and some lean beef. I eat plenty of vegetables and stay on the healthy side of the foods I am allowed to eat. I am also staying physically active. This diet is a lifestyle change for me. I’m not saying that I will go without carbs for the rest of my life but those things that had become a staple will now only be a special treat on occasion. This way I will enjoy them more because I am not overindulging them. For me the South Beach Diet works.
Around the age of nine I became exposed to pornography. My parents never talked to me about pornography, I’m sure they never thought they needed to. My parents loved me very much and would have been appalled at what I was viewing in other people’s homes. Viewing pornography led to experimenting with what I was seeing and even sexual abuse. I know that’s grotesque, but at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 years old I didn’t know any different. No one told me looking at lewd, sexually explicit images was wrong. After all, if adults had it in their homes, then surely it must be ok. Here’s the problem with viewing pornography at such a young age, sexual desires are awakened and they never go away. Once you’ve had chocolate, you never forget what it tastes like. Pornography is the same, it is highly addictive and once you have a taste of it, it’s like turning a kid loose in a candy store for the first time, you can never get enough. What’s worse is that I never told my parents or an adult what was going on, if I had, maybe I could have understood that what I was seeing was wrong. What it did do was feed curiosity and fuel promiscuity into my teenage years. After I became a Christian at age 18, those desires were squelched for a while, but they eventually resurfaced. Those desires breathed life and it led to premarital sex. I realize as an adult that I am responsible for my actions; however, I cannot ignore the fact that being exposed to pornography at such a young age fed a fire that would take a miracle to put out. Jesus is my miracle and I don’t have a problem with pornography any more. In the mean time, I know there are kids and parents living in the dark about pornography and pornography trends among youth. A lot of the trends now days have to do with computers and the internet.
Here’s my advice to parents to keep what happened to me as a child from happening to your children.
1. You do not have to let your child go to every sleep over, play date, etc. I know that you cannot protect your kids from everything, life happens. However, we live in an age where parents hardly ever tell their kids no because they don’t want to make them upset. If your child wants to hang out with friends, have them at your house where you know what’s going on behind closed doors. Buy a ton of snacks, get a ping pong table and make your home the coolest place in the neighborhood to hang out. If your child is allowed to go to another child’s home by themselves, talk to them! Talk about inappropriate images, bad touching, and yes, sex. My kids are age 10 and 8 and I talk to them about pornography, bad touching, alcohol, and drugs. I want them to know they can always talk about these subjects without feeling weird. I want to equip them to tell adults and friends no anytime they are uncomfortable. Give them a way out. Make sure they have your phone number and can call you anytime. And parents, if your child comes home and tells you about inappropriate things that happened, believe them.
2. Do not let your child have a computer in their room where you are not able to view what they are searching on the internet. According to Dr. James Dobson from Focus on the Family, this is a sure way for your kids to have access to inappropriate web sites without your knowledge. If you are one of those parents who think your little angel would never do anything like that, WAKE UP!!!!! Your kids are human and yes, curious. In a 2006 study done by Family Safe Media, the largest demographic searching for nude pictures on the internet is age 18 and younger. This age group is also either the highest or the second highest demographic looking at these search words on the internet: porn, sex toys, teen sex, free sex, free porn, and teen porn. Family Safe Media also provides other eye opening statistics:
· The average age for children viewing pornography is age 11
· The largest consumers of pornography on the internet are ages 35 to 49
· Seventy percent of 15 to 17 year olds have had exposure to hard core porn
· Ninety percent of 8 to 16 year olds have viewed porn online mostly while doing their homework
· Names of characters your children might look up on the internet and can be linked to porn sites, Pokemon and Action Man
3. Understand that your children do not need to type in sexually explicit words to find porn on the internet. Pornographers buy expired domains that have nothing to do with pornography, like Pokemon. They buy the domain at an incredible price, keep the name of the domain, but display pornography. Your child may come across pornography simply by looking up topics that are related to homework. Pornographers are crafty and sly individuals who want your kids to see their sexually explicit images. Imagine little Johnny doing a homework assignment on George Washington. He types in the president’s name on google, clicks on a link, and there in front of him are pictures of nude people. He is embarrassed, so he tries to click off the link, however, he can’t because these pornographers have a little trick up their sleeve called “mousetrapping” where multiple pornography pages begin to loop onto the page and you cannot shut them off. This is why it’s important to have the computer in a place where you can see what they’re looking up. (You can visit www.familysafemedia.com
for lots of other helpful information on children and pornographic websites.)
4. Make sure you are spending as much time with your kids as possible. Our culture and society have our kids involved in so many activities, we are running ourselves ragged. Gone are the days of dinner at the table and weekends spent together. Your child doesn’t need to be involved in everything. They do need you to be involved in developing their heart, not just their athletic or music abilities. I know, I was involved in lots of stuff as a kid, softball, swim team, volleyball, basketball, track, music lessons, band and choir. Looking back on my childhood, I wish my parents would have said no to me being in everything and focused more on spending time together. It’s during family time where communication blossoms and you can talk about topics like pornography. The devil wants you and your kids to be distracted, he wants you to be too busy to communicate. Mark my words, if you don’t communicate with your kids, he will. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities in the heavenly place.” NLT
The devil is an advocate for pornography and you must fight him by communicating truth to your children.
In closing I would like to say that you can never be too informed about pornography and its effects on your family. The number one demographic searching for pornography on the internet are ages 35 to 49. Individuals ages 35 to 49 are likely to be parents and have children living at home. According to Family Safe Media, the place where children are most likely to see pornography, is in the home. My conclusion, parents, if you are looking at pornography, so are your kids and the damage is life changing.
Do whatever you can to protect your child’s innocence.
I have spent most of my life worrying about my image. I would often bend over backwards to try to talk or act in a way that would appeal to whomever I was with at the moment. I purposely looked for ways to address them so as not to be offensive. Taking a stand on anything has proven difficult due to this attitude. By straining to maintain an image of someone who is tolerant, I have removed my own identity. I think most of this has developed from being raised in a culture that grossly promotes political correctness. As of late I have realized that this can be a very destructive force to a society and I will spend today explaining why.
Political Correctness vs. Respect
I will begin by defining the terms:
Also, PC or p.c. Showing an effort to make broad social and political changes to redress injustices caused by prejudice. It often involves changing or avoiding language that might offend anyone, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. For example, Editors of major papers have sent out numerous directives concerning politically correct language. This expression was born in the late 1900s, and excesses in trying to conform to its philosophy gave rise to humorous parodies.1 Respect:
Respect is doing your best to honor a person while political correctness is attempting to be like that person. You can have respect for another person and be honest about your views on a subject in which you differ but you can quickly become politically incorrect by stating those views. Let me give a clear example of what I mean. I personally believe in what has been defined as the traditional view of marriage, i.e. one man marrying one woman. I can state that viewpoint and still respect those with opposing views. I cannot, however, state that point and be what is currently defined as politically correct. In today’s American society, to remain politically correct I either need to say that I agree that all people have the right to marry, no matter the gender/number or just remain silent if I oppose that viewpoint. I am considered a disrespectful bigot if I exert my opinion. Therefore, society pressures me to either remain silent or change my views when they oppose the current popular social norm. Respect, on the other hand, allows me to openly state how I feel. I may generate opposition from those who are equally passionate for the opposing view, but if we respect each other we can openly debate without demeaning one another. In my opinion, political correctness breeds dishonesty. It stifles anyone who agrees with what has recently been defined as the popular stance of modern society. It requires one to change his/her beliefs in order to fit in or be liked by others. It is a type of speech control with the goal of suppressing those in opposition of current trends. Being a device used by socialist governments to control the population, political correctness actually annihilates the freedom of speech. Summary I began by explaining how I have spent most of my life trying to get others to like me. I have often shied away from debates because I did not want to offend someone. I have recently come to realize that I have been suppressing who I am and diluting the God I serve simply to save face. Whose face am I saving if I cannot be honest about how I feel? Am I truly benefiting anyone by not openly sharing what is taking place in my mind? I have come to the decision that I cannot let others control my life. I need to be Tim McSwain, not someone else. I will continue to respect the right that we all have to believe what we want but I will no longer be ashamed of my core beliefs or of the name of Jesus Christ. Some people may choose to no longer be my friend because I make them feel uncomfortable, but I guess that will show me who my true friends really are. I also want others to feel that they can be honest with me. Chances are we will disagree about something, but if we respect one another we can grow closer despite our differences. My advice: Learn the value of respect and quit being so stinking politically correct. -Tim Bible Postscript Ephesians: 4:11-16 ESV “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, theshepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather,speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who isthe head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” 1. politically correct. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/politically correct (accessed: August 01, 2012). 2. respect. Dictionary.com, LLC. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/respect?s=t
- Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
- Deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.2
Something at my very core is changing. The old way must go. I’m at a loss of words when it comes to explaining what is taking place, but I have found a great passage of scripture that does the explaining for me. Take some time today to read God’s words instead of mine. Let Him speak to you. The following passage of scripture is taken from a Biblical paraphrase known as The Message. Please feel free to look up these same verses in which ever version of the Bible you read.
Ephesians 4:17 – 5:10
“And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”
- It’s time for change to take place - Tim
There seems to be a new trend taking place that concerns me. The ‘adult’ entertainment industry appears to be pushing pornography onto women, and it is working. Not too long ago, the largest advocates for tearing down the porn industry were women. A large portion of the female population argued that pornography was demeaning. They rightly contended that it made ladies appear as nothing but a tool to fulfill men’s selfish desires. Ladies were a large voice in calling for the repeal of what a majority of women viewed as a detestable act. In my opinion, the strength of the female voice began to weaken the porn industry and they retaliated by making male porn more attractive to women. Much like when the frog is slowly warmed in water to be cooked, women are slowly being lured into embracing pornography.
This trend is currently creating what seems like a double standard in our society. I’m sure the plan is to make it where all pornography is accepted.
Why am I stating this is a double standard? The main reason is because many women have no problem going to see a movie about a male stripper, Magic Mike, but they would still be offended if their husbands/boyfriends attended a movie about female strippers. This is not the case for all women and I don’t mean to generalize the statement. I am fully aware that some women did not watch Magic Mike and some who did have no problem allowing their boyfriends/husbands to watch pornography but I think that many who did watch the movie do oppose having their significant others lusting after another woman.
Say what you want to about the story, the main reason the movie has made $107,600,000 to date is because women wanted to see Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and other men take off their clothes. That was the main focus of the commercials and the draw for the movie. This is not a record breaking movie but when one figures in the fact that the movie’s main demographic was women, it’s a large number.
I will get off my soapbox for a moment… Pornography is something I have personally dealt with in my life. If anyone ever tells you that pornography is not destructive, they are either lying, in denial or just perverted. Like any other addiction, it can control your life. It is destructive because it messes with your psyche. The fact that some people fight so hard in defense of pornography should be a very clear sign that it is harmful. It’s much like when an alcoholic says, “I’ve got everything under control. I know my limits.” Because pornography is an addictive behavior, it often leads down a road of progressive steps. A person may begin by looking at an image on a website. The image may be considered soft porn. That suffices for a time but is soon not enough to fulfill the person’s desire so he/she turns to more hard core images. The images lead to watching movies, interacting with people online and often to the person perusing sexual escapades. Each thing leads to another and the destructive nature of the behavior increases. One of the most famous cases of pornography going bad was in the case of Ted Bundy. Bundy was a famous serial killer in the 1970’s. In an interview with James Dobson, Bundy stated that his addiction to pornography lead him down the path to becoming a serial killer. I am not saying that viewing pornography will make you a murderer, but it will lead you down a path of destruction. There will be a price to pay. It may cost you your job, marriage, financial health or even your physical health. It’s not the first image you view that will cost you but that image could lead you down a path to an addiction that will cause you to make decisions that cost dearly. If you don’t believe me ask any wife who divorced her husband due to his having an affair. It usually starts with porn and leads to something more.
Every Christian should be outraged that the entertainment industry has produced a movie fully intended to desensitize women to pornography but I am here to tell you that many Christian women went to see the movie. I don’t have any statistics to corroborate my claims because there is apparently not a Christian female meter on movie viewing, but just Google ‘christian women watching magic mike’ and read some of the other blogs on the subject. It seems that much of Christian society is silent when it comes to women watching what essentially is a pornographic movie while they are outspoken when men do the same thing. It almost seems as though we Christians shun pornography when it is directed toward men but are silent when its target audience is women. It’s a double standard. Pornography is either a sin or it isn’t. If it is wrong for men to view sexually explicit imagery, it’s wrong for women.
As I stated, it’s my opinion that this is a move to generate more acceptance toward pornography. It creates a slippery slope. Think about this scenario. A wife asks her husband, “What did you rent for guy’s night?” He replies, “Showgirls.” She says, “I can’t believe that; you know I don’t like for you to watch that trash!” He retorts, “You watched Magic Mike last month, so what’s the difference?” The lines get thinner as the loudest voice against pornography grows silent. The giant $12billion industry known as the Adult Entertainment industry continues to grow while we embarrassingly fail to fight it.
Want to read a Christian review of Magic Mike? Check out this link: mike.aspxhttp://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/magic-mike.aspx
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Have you ever wondered if God chooses to be silent? Are there times when you simply cannot hear Him speaking to you? I am at a place in my life where I am straining, pleading, needing to hear God speak to me. My family recently moved to a new town about two months ago, I confess it feels like an eternity. It’s been a slow summer, a spiritually dry summer. We’ve had a difficult time finding a new church, I haven’t made any close friends and I am terribly homesick. I’ve been isolated in a small town and the local Kwik Shop is about my only option for a fun night out.
Now, if you are an introverted, laid back personality this may sound like bliss, isolated at home, not a lot of people to hang out with, and not a lot to do. For an extroverted, Type A personality, it’s like sitting in the dentist chair getting a root canal that takes hours to finish. I confess that my personality needs a lot going on, projects to manage, people to interact with, places to go, and something to do other than laundry, (my boon companion). It’s difficult for me to be still. Now let me say that again like a 5 year old asked to sit quietly, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE STILL! I haven’t been able to find a job, I have no friends, and if I have to clean another toilet I may lose my mind.
In my lonely state of self-absorption, I am reminded of the Israelites. If they weren’t on the mountain top, they were in the valley complaining. If God wasn’t speaking to them directly or doing awesome miracles, they worshipped another. If Moses wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear, they threatened to leave. The Israelites were fickle, wondering, emotion driven people who let their circumstances determine their value. It wasn’t enough to be a child of God, they needed to be a child of God with lots of stuff. It’s great to be a child of God when things are going well, with a place to live, food to eat, and prosperity in your future. It’s difficult to just be a child of God and not know where you will rest your head, how you will put food on the table, and have no employment prospects. We might not be that destitute as my husband has a good job. But the move has been difficult, in fact, the last few months have been down right trying.
Simply put, I get the Israelites. I love being on the mountain top, like attending a great worship service where the worship is palpable, the message is inspiring, and lives are changed. I love being around people who are friendly, kind, and interested in my life. I love having a job that makes me feel like I’m valuable and where I get all kinds of accolades. I love having lots of friends and lots of activity in my life.
My American driven ego and life style isn’t used to not having these emotionally driven activities. Therein lies the problem, I’m not used to being still and I’m not good at trusting God in the valley.
I believe the Word of God is true and I believe God fulfills His promises. Yet my heart is aching and my emotions are on a roller coaster. So what’s a girl to do? Run and worship another idol like the Israelites because my emotions are not falling in line with what I believe to be true? Or do I claim the Word of God and keep my emotions from influencing what I believe and how I behave?
I’ve let my emotions deter my course of action before, swerving from the truth just a little bit so as to appease my aching heart. It ended badly for me and has had a profound impact on my life. I will write about that in future blogs. So today, June 27th, I chose what I know to be true regardless of emotion.
God will not forsaken or abandon me.
God has a future and a hope for me.
God is still the same no matter what my circumstances.
God is doing something new in my life.
If you are in a difficult place where trusting Him doesn’t “feel” like the right thing to do and you want to run in the opposite direction from Him rather than to Him, then let’s claim this promise together.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To be continued……..