Sunday, May 30, 2010

What It Feels Like

Sorry I haven't been posting a very much original content lately - I've been very busy and am looking to share some thoughts (and several book reviews) next week. In the meantime, enjoy this creative commercial:

Whoever came up with this idea was a genius; empathy, humor, emotional pull, and a great bridge to what they are selling. Amazing!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Modern Day Ninja

Yeah, he's pretty impressive. But can he cook?

Oh wait, I can't do that either!

Anyway, when someone is able to achieve such incredible feats; whether it is academically, physically, business-wise, or artistically I catch myself thinking this question: What is behind them and driving their success? Are they driven by healthy things or unhealthy? This is of course pure curiosity and speculation. So many hours of practice/learning are necessary for these incredible feats that I wonder if people who don't have severe issues (like a Dad who wasn't there, a traumatic past, a personality disorder, abuse, etc) could actually achieve anything so spectacular. The reason I wonder this is because I've talked with a lot of incredibly successful people and they often are driven by such things. Things that allow them to sacrifice huge areas of their lives (like comfort, friendships, healthy relationships, regular leisure time) to become so good. Often it seems they are trying to prove something - to themself or to others. I realize some people are just gifted and driven, but I wonder how many are simply reacting to something in their past? And I wonder if they can ever take satisfaction in their successes and feats?

P.S. I realize that everyone has some sort of issues (including myself) but some people seem to react to their issues by extreme acts or drive to prove themselves. And it's not all bad, I'm just curious about it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The End . . .

Here is piece of wisdom that I think is helpful for anyone. If you follow it, you can live a principled life. This wisdom can improve your relationships, your ethics, your character - every part of your life really. Ready for it? OK, here it is:

The end does not justify the means.

Reflect on this for awhile. Think about how it applies to topics like

-your relationship with yours spouse
-your performance at work
-how you parent
-what you do when someone wrongs you
-the expression of your anger

The end does not justify the means. I don't care how great your ministry is, it does not justify you breaking laws even if "God could be glorified". No matter how much your family needs money or how much you were ripped off by others, it does not justify you cheating on your taxes. It doesn't matter how evil someone has been to you, or that you being a jerk might snap them out of it, it doesn't justify bad behavior to them. The end does not justify the means.

If you break your own rules about how things can or can't happen to try and justify some greater good . . . you have failed. When you break God's rules (aka commands) to try to achieve some great good . . . you sin. It's that simple. It's what I call a process error - people abandon their ethics to try to get justice, revenge, pleasure, or relief. But character is who you are when no one is looking. It is the ability to stay true to your ethics under duress. Under challenging circumstances.

So again I remind myself and I remind you gentle reader. We need to stop deluding ourselves an calling ourselves and each other on it. The end does not justify the means. Ever!

(OK, rant over)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This made me chuckle:

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Don't keep it to yourself, pass it onto your favorite contemporary worship leader! The great thing is that this was made by a mega church! I like that they can poke fun at themselves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Like Ships Passing In The Night

A past neighbor of mine worked in a trade. His wife was a bartender. For almost 10 years they worked opposite schedules - he worked days and she worked nights. In that time they bought a house, had 2 children, and somehow managed to keep it all together. At least we thought they did. One day they both looked at each other and said "I'm done." They didn't really know each other anymore and most of their recent interactions had been highly conflicted. They split up.

Incompatible schedules.

I shake my head when I think of all the couples I have known who thought that they could long term sustain incompatible schedules. Working opposite from your spouse may be a practical way to solve some short term problems (child rearing, financial issues, education) but long term it is death for the vast majority of relationships. Some people can manage it for a few weeks, others for a few months, and some even for a few years. But eventually cracks begin to show and things begin to deteriorate. It's only a matter of time.

The problem is that when a couple isn't together, focusing on each other, it is extremely difficult to meet their most important emotional needs. Needs such as affection, sexual fulfilment, conversation, and recreational companionship. Dr. Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs believes that all couples need a minimum of 10 hours a week together to specifically focus on meeting each other's needs just to maintain a good relationship. To fix an ailing one requires many more. Emotional needs don't just take care of themselves. They require quality time together focusing on each other. Couples who are in the initial stages of relationship find this instinctual but couples who have been together longer need to choose to make this a reality.

Protecting your quality time with your spouse takes creativity, negotiation, taking some career risks, and making some sacrifices. But it is the only way to long term relational health. No relationship can survive for too long without quality time together as a foundation to build upon. So how are you doing in this area? What do you need to change? Here's a challenge I sometimes give some of my clients: spend 10-15 hours per week (for a month) in quality time with your spouse, giving your full attention to meeting each other's most important emotional needs. You may think you could never find that kind of time but what will it hurt to try it for a month? The rewards will be worth the small sacrifices you have to make. To find out what your spouse's most important emotional needs are, download a helpful questionnaire here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Love Languages

I was thinking today about what a friend told me once. He mentioned how his sister thought his Dad was a terrible person, emotionally unavailable (ex/never said "I love you"), and blamed her Dad for her dysfunctional series of relationships. My friend though thought his Dad was a pretty good father (though not perfect), appreciated him, and felt loved. How could there be such a difference of opinion between the two siblings? Did the Father treat his children completely differently?

Thinking about it today, I hypothesize that my friend and his sister had very different love languages. For instance if the woman's love language was words of affirmation or quality time, I could see why she would feel uncared for as the Father was a very busy businessman. And if the guy telling the story had a primary love language of gifts or acts of service then I could see why he generally felt loved by his Dad and confused about why his sister felt uncared for. But the truth is that in some ways a Dad could be great with one child and a disaster with another because of the reality of love languages. We tend to respond to love when it comes in certain guises and get little reward from it if it comes in others.

Reflecting on this story, I thought about my own children; am I going to be in the same situation one day where one of my children feels very loved and another hardly at all? I felt a strong need to find their love languages soon and began using them. I don't want any of my kids to feel uncared for. It's not a mystery; we all feel loved in different ways and it is up to us to find out what makes those closest to us feel loved. I think Riker's primary love language is touch and I think Trinity's is most likely time. Do you know what your kid's (if you have them) are? Or how about your spouse or parents? If you go to the work of finding out your loved one's love languages and start doing things that work with them, you will instantly increase the feeling of love those people get from you. It can feel quite "unnatural" to show someone love in a way that is not our primary love language (I know it is for me), but that is what love really is - a choice as well as feeling. Godspeed in meeting the love language needs of those you care for!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Book Review

Guest Blogger Book Review: Every Young Woman's Battle: Guarding Your Mind, heart and Body in a Sex-Saturated World by Shannon & Stephen Arterburn

(Julie:) Although I am not too far past being a "young" woman, I started reading this book with some skepticism as far as it's relevance to me personally. I wondered, "Is this teen version really going to apply to me?" I've been married almost a decade, long past dating status, I have no teenaged girls knocking on my door for relationship advice, and my own daughter is (hopefully!) at least decade away from needing it. I should also admit that I started this book with a vague idea of what I hoped it would emphasize. Though I would still like to read the "adult" (or "old"?) woman's version, I mostly enjoyed this book and I was pleasantly surprised to find:

1. A strong emphasis on the need to guard our minds.
2. A large amount of scripture - the best way to accomplish #1
3. A chapter devoted to falling in love with Jesus

From reading Mark's review on the EMB book, it does seem that these books are similar in some ways: concepts of starving and bouncing, except in this case, they are applied to a woman's mind and thoughts. This can be very dangerous ground for women when left unguarded! I completely agree that it is extremely important to very carefully guard the intake of your mind - married woman or not. This covers both visual and non-visual temptation. I remember, as a young woman, discomfort over books - Christian books! - that went very steamy. I thought, "There is no way this book made into a movie would be appropriate or allowed, so why is it on the shelf for us to read?" Women don't need the visual images if they are ingesting the mental images! We need to be so careful to protect and guard our minds, no matter the format temptation may arrive as - magazines, novels, television, music, etc.

This book, like the "family" of books it belongs to, is very honest and specific. The authors use many examples of women's varying temptations and I wonder if the graphic nature of these examples may be too much. If women are vulnerable to mental images from words, then this book is walking a fine line in providing those mental images for the sake of relevance and honesty. To it's credit, this book was very direct about alot of subjects that most people are not very straight-forward in teaching. Thankfully, it was not only honest and specific about a woman's struggles and temptations, but also about practical suggestions as to how to guard yourself (and why!).

The authors also did a good job dissecting the typical emotional steps a woman goes through in relationships and how to set emotional boundaries, not just physical - how to also guard your heart. Emotional boundaries for women are a big deal - very, very important!
So, is this book just for young women? Not quite! Although definitely geared toward teens, I would say it would be very helpful for all unmarried women, and those of us who are married and can't find a copy of it's big sister book! I did enjoy it and agreed with most of it, though I am attaching a strong word of caution to my word of acceptance! I hope that it will change the decisions and lives of the young women who read it, convincing them to redefine purity and giving them the hope and resolve to commit to true purity and a life of love for their Savior, our True Love. Rating: 3.9 lemons out of 5

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wisdom and Uncertainty

From Nakedpastor:

Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Do you feel like you belong with someone? Do you feel like there is a group of people with whom you feel safe, accepted, and connected to?

The need to feel like you belong somewhere is one of the most basic of all human needs. It may not be as important as water, food, and shelter, yet it is a basic human need none the less. If you don't perceive that this need is being met for yourself you may try all sorts of things to cope with the loss of it. Addictions, depression, anxiety, violence, religiosity, self-harm, etc. The feeling of not belonging is one of the worst things we can ever experience.

I was reflecting on this today. We may try to convince ourselves that not belonging is OK, but we deceive ourselves. That sense of disconnection from others continually cries out to be remedied. Instead of blaming others, take a deep breath and steel yourself for some tough inner work. Begin considering what you might be doing to disconnect yourself from others: What thoughts do you believe about yourself? How do those beliefs manifest themselves in your actions towards others? What are you doing to repel others from you? There are many people out there who believe their lack of belonging is either other people's fault or they think something is innately wrong with them. Neither of these is accurate. Sit down with a good book on self esteem or with a counselor and work through your issues. When you do, you'll find solutions to your lack of belonging - and it will be up to you to choose to take action on the or not. I hope you do.

For those of us (OK, especially myself) who do feel like we belong, I have a different challenge. Why not invite someone into your circle of belonging? Often such people do subtle (or obvious) things to repel people but accept and include them anyway. Stretch yourself a little. Don't let their beliefs about themselves (or others) hold them down anymore. I had a friend in College who did this consistently. He was smart and could have hung out with anyone he wanted. Yet he chose those who had trouble believing they belonged and instilled confidence in them. My parents are also great examples of inviting people to belong. Ever since I can remember they extended hospitality to anyone on holidays - the continually gave (and give) people a place to belong. One of my ministry mentors Bill Morrison used to always put on his team someone who had trouble feeling they could belong. This person would always be a huge challenge for Bill but he did it because he believed that it was the right thing to do. And many of those people changed - growing in self confidence and their relationships with the Lord. Many of them grew into strong Christian leaders who then created their own circles of belonging - and began inviting those with belonging issues into them.

Sharing your life with people is important. What's your next step?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Busy Week

Wow, last week was busy for me! I did the following:

-Met with all my counselling clients.
-Took my first online coaching session for stock trading.
-Came up with and did a sex talk at a Steinbach youth group.
-Went to a Beaver Creek Bible Camp board meeting in Riverton.
-Went to Iron Man 2 on opening night.
-Attended a wedding for one of my premarital couples.
-Directed a play in my church Sunday morning.
-Went out to Gimli to see my Mom on Mother's day.

Jobina told me she missed me after such a busy week and I realize that for me at least that kind of pace is not sustainable - if I did it week after week I'd eventually burn out. Everyone has a different capacity for what they can handle - do you know what yours is?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sex Speak

Tonight I'm speaking at a youth group in Steinbach. A few months ago I told one of my old youth group students that I enjoyed talking to teens about sex. She remembered that and now I'm speaking! Although this is a favorite speaking topic for me, I'm currently not feeling very "lead" in what to say. And so I'm procrastinating on my preparation. I have the rest of the afternoon so hopefully I'll come up with something soon. I have old talks but I feel like something was missing from them. This kind of wrestling before speaking is nothing new for me but it rarely fun. Anyway, if you think to pray for me (and you are one who prays of course) I'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ironing Man

parody :
1. an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect : the movie is a parody of the horror genre | his provocative use of parody.
2. an imitation or a version of something that falls far short of the real thing; a travesty : he seems like a parody of an educated Englishman.

This Friday Iron Man 2 hits theaters, so to celebrate I thought I'd post this cute parody of the original movie. Enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

Today as I was walking to work I was thinking about the law of sowing and reaping. The idea of this being a law was set forth by Cloud and Townsend in their excellent "Boundaries" books but the idea comes straight from the Bible itself:

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."
- Galatians 6:7

The law of sowing and reaping is the law of cause and effect. Simple reality. You can’t avoid the consequences of your actions. If you overspend, you will most likely get into debt. If you eat right and exercise, you will have better physical health. Obvious, right? However, in human relationships, some people try to save others from this law by stepping in and reaping the consequences for someone else. For example, if every time you overspent, your parents stepped in and covered for you, they would be keeping you from experiencing natural consequences. And you’d never learn anything. You would do it over and over again.

Many of us struggle with this tendency to “step in” when it is not wise to do so. It is like a savior mentality where we feel like we want to save those we love from ever being hurt. Yet it is in getting hurt that we learn. Some of us have gone to great lengths to “fix” something for someone else, but by doing that, we not only drain ourselves, but take power away from those we care about – keeping them from experiencing the consequences and learning from them. This is called codependence.

Some of us have been in relationships where our partner attempted to do the same for us – to “rescue” us from the pain naturally occurring from the choices we made. Who are you protecting from the natural consequences of their actions? Your friend, your children, your spouse? How are you preventing their growth and independence? There is a place for grace and for mercy. But when people repeatedly do things that would usually result in negative consequences for them and we repeatedly rescue them from those consequences they learn nothing. You are actually doing them a world of harm. Stop it! Just stop it! Stop being codependent! Stop paying for their mistakes. Let them experience the consequences so that they can grow from them. I write this for every spouse with an addicted partner, every parent who keeps paying their kids way and rescuing them financially, every friend who is constantly rescuing their friends from themselves as a way of "caring." And I write it for myself.