22
Jul

Become a Better Conversationalist

conversation Generally speaking, women are better talkers than men. Their verbal skills develop very quickly at an early age. I have 5 girls and the pace of conversation around the dinner table is rapid. I have to say, “Time out. Can you pass the mustard?” They pause, and then go back at it.

My late grandfather and dad had an interesting way of communicating. They would look at each, and one would let out a “Ehhhu.” The other would echo with an “Ehhu” and they both would chuckle. I still don’t know what “Ehhu” means, but I know they were connecting in their own way.

Today, when my wife wants to engage in conversation I find myself wanting give an “Ehhu.” I think other men are the same. We tend to grunt, sigh, snort, and sniff instead of talking it out. And there’s the source of frustration in a marriage relationship.

Good news. You can develop your conversation skills. Here’s a little idea that might help.

Having a healthy conversation is a lot like playing a friendly round of tennis. In tennis the object is to volley. A good talk has the same object.

So, serve up an easy, open-ended question. Be prepared. It may take 2 or 3 questions before a good volley gets going. Don’t get discouraged if the first serve isn’t returned.

If you’re served a question, respond and the hit the ball back with a question of your own. The partner will hopefully answer and return your hit with another question. The goal? See how long you can keep the verbal volley going.

tennis-tower-professional Sometimes you miss the ball with an awkward response, a delay, or an “Ehhu.” That’s OK. Pick the ball up and serve it again. The aim in is not a perfect performance, but real, human interaction. It may feel awkward at first, but embrace the awkward. Your skills will grow in time.

A few more words of advice. If you want to volley with your spouse or friend, don’t spike the ball. A verbal spike is a slam. It’s not fun to play conversational tennis with someone who only likes to slam.

Also, remember you’re not a serving machine, shooting balls like a howitzer. Refrain from peppering your partner with 10 questions at once. The overload will clog the conversational pipeline. The average dude will not know where to swing.

Give it a shot. Take some time today to play some conversational tennis.

18
Jul

5 Reasons to Visit VC this Weekend

6a00e54f86af5688330120a557d986970c-800wi If you’ve wondered about giving us a try, this weekend is a great opportunity.

1. Need encouragement for your family? The message this Sunday will focus on how to build a healthy marriage.

2. Looking for a place that cares about kids? This Sunday the kids of VC will be singing some fun VBS songs they learned over the weekend. After service we’re having a picnic with water games. Make sure your child brings their bathing suit and a towel.

3. Looking for a new beginning? Sometimes you just need a fresh start. Our welcome mat is always out, especially for those who are looking to write a new chapter.

4. Looking for new friends? Plan to stay around the for the picnic after the 10:30 service. You’ll find people just like yourself, eager to welcome you.

5. Searching for hope? Every Sunday is an opportunity to find fresh hope for a new week. As we connect in relationship with one another and Jesus Christ we find the hope we need to face tomorrow.

Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

08
Jul

The Most Reliable GPS Ever

I’ve used a number of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to direct me while driving over the years. I’ve tried Apple Maps, Google Maps, Map Quest, and the factory GPS systems in new cars today. While safer than fighting with a folded, paper map on the freeway, they are not 100% reliable. They often take the longer route. New roads are not included. Sometimes, the next turn doesn’t appear quick enough to make the needed lane change. These man-made systems are flawed. I hope they get it worked out before they start selling the satellite-driven, Google cars.

What GPS are you using to guide your life? Is it a man-made system? There are many out there. Some go old-school and check the horoscopes. Others sneak into store-front palm readers, and fortune tellers. Self help books tell us to simply develop a better mental picture of our preferred future to meditate upon, and then trust our divine self to take us there. In short, there are many man-made “GPS systems” we can follow. Do you really want to bank your life on them?

God’s Word, the Bible, is the gold standard, GPS system for living. It is truly global, because God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and watches over all creation. It is a map showing us how to live in every area – worship, marriage, finances, family, friendship, planning, leadership, serving, health, recreation, etc. It is timeless, and never needs an update.

In Psalm 138:2 the Bible says, “…for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Nothing is higher and more exalted than God’s name. Right on par with God’s name is his Word. Every turn, every warning, every promise is reliable.

In Jeremiah 1:12 God says, “…I am watching over my word to perform it.” Today, let the Lord of all creation be the map for your life.

I’m loving the YouVersion Bible app. Check it out. Pick a reading plan that’s right for you. Program your life with God’s divine direction. You’ll end up at the right destination in the end.

Isaiah 8:19-20 says, “And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony!”

06
Jul

Wesley’s Growth Questions

John Wesley, and 18th century British evangelist, and founder of the Methodist movement, knew the power of Christian friendship and accountability. After preaching the gospel, he strongly encouraged new Christians to come together to challenge one another in their new faith commitment. He created a list of questions to ask one another. I’m amazed how relevant these questions still are in our time. Here they are.

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?

Are you stuck in your faith journey? Here what God’s Word says in Ephesians 4:15 – “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Get together with another Christians friend once a week for coffee. Here’s how you can do that. Take the initiative and ask someone, “Would you meet with me over the next 6 weeks two work through some growth questions?” See what happens. Read the Bible, pray, and talk through these questions. As you speak the truth in love you’ll grow.

06
Jul

One Way to Take the Next Step in Spiritual Growthy

John Wesley, and 18th century British evangelist, and founder of the Methodist movement, knew the power of Christian friendship and accountability. After preaching the gospel, he strongly encouraged new Christians to come together to challenge one another in their new faith commitment. He created a list of questions to ask one another. I’m amazed how relevant these questions still are in our time. Here they are.

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?

Are you stuck in your faith journey? Here what God’s Word says in Ephesians 4:15 – “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Get together with another Christians friend once a week for coffee. Here’s how you can do that. Take the initiative and ask someone, “Would you meet with me over the next 6 weeks two work through some growth questions?” See what happens. Read the Bible, pray, and talk through these questions. As you speak the truth in love you’ll grow.

01
Jul

One Ministry All Christians Share

Have you ever wondered what your ministry is in your church? There is one common ministry all Christians share. We find it in Ephesians 4:2-3, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

God has placed in all our hands the work of building unity. We are to “make every effort” to stay united. When it comes to building unity our attitude isn’t, “That’s not my job. Someone else will take care of that who has a lot of time on their hands.”

The truth is we can do nothing and say nothing and be agents of discord. We can bring division in a hidden way, with our attitude. Attitudes are contagious, jumping quickly from host to host. That’s why the Bible says, “Make every effort. Sitting and doing nothing is not an option.”

So, we do more than show up and leave. We have important work to do each time we gather. Before we arrive we can ask ourselves, “What can I do or say to build greater unity?” Before we leave we then could ask that same question again.

We can do that not only at church, but in our homes and places of work. “What can I do to bring greater unity to my marriage, at my job?”

We want to work, even strive for unity because that’s where power kicks in. That’s where God commands his blessing and favor. Things begin to click and doors begin to open. Psalm 133:1;3 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!..For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

How is your ministry of building unity in the church going?

05
Jun

What to Do When Things are Small

News flash…. Nothing in life starts out big. Even elephants begin as embryos. Baby whales are born as fish. Great oak trees come from small seeds. Everything in life starts out small.

What has God given you today that seems small in your eyes? Remember, God is in the big and the small. Think again about the wonderful, amazing intricacy and design in every cell of the human body. Each cell is like a little, self-contained universe. God often does his greatest work in the small.

Are you sitting around waiting for your big opportunity? You could go through life sitting on the bench.

Remember, the Savior was born in a small, hidden way. Later, he began his ministry by calling only 12 to be with him. Through 12 men he changed the world.

What small work is in your hands today?

A few tips…

1. Don’t look with disdain on your small opportunity. It’s a gift from God.

2. Remember, comparing yourself with others will kill your joy and vision of the unique work God wants to do through you.

3. Instead of striving for success, focus on being faithful. Eugene Petterson said faithfulness is long obedience in the same direction. You do your part and God will do his. Every small work done in faithfulness is like a seed we sew. In God’s time it multiplies to touch the world. Leave the results to God and focus on being faithful.

4. Choose to be thankful for the chance to be a part of God’s work.

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”

28
May

Are You an Anchor or Motor?

Anchor,_England_-_scan01 You have a decision in life. You’re either an anchor or a motor. What makes a person an anchor? They weigh you down instead of push you ahead. They analyze problems and focus on fixing the blame. Anchors are impossible to motivate. They would prefer to sit and remain as they are until Jesus comes again. “Anchor people” leave you feeling heavy and discouraged.

Motors are different. “Motor people” are solution-oriented, and future focused. They travel light, not weighed down with past baggage, and are genuinely excited about the future. When you spend time with a “motor person” you leave feeling stretched, challenged, and hopeful. They look for ways to add to your life not subtract. They are praying you’ll succeed.

Which one are you – an anchor or a motor? Here’s the others question. Who are you spending your time with – anchors or motors?

If you have too many anchors in your boat, you’ll not get very far in life. Ask God to bring some motors your way. While you wait, be a motor for a friend.

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

08
May

The One Appointment You Can’t Set

Last Tuesday, at around 9 AM, I got a call from a VC member – Chet Blevins. He asked if I could meet him at the hospital. His grandmother, Linda Blevins, was on her way to the emergency room. I knew that Linda had battled with some health issues, but the last I spoke with her she was engaging, humorous, and witty. I thought this would be just another routine hospital visit. After all, she had just beaten me yet again in “Words with Friends.”

After waiting for a while in the emergency room, a doctor and head nurse came in to share some shocking news. Linda had passed away suddenly and quickly after a heart attack. It felt like taking a cheap shot, a punch to the gut. Chet, and his brother Justin, began to weep, and all I could do was offer a hug and to mumble words of prayer.

I remembered again how fragile life is. None of us know when our hour will come, when the Lord will call us home. It could be today, tomorrow, next year, or the next. As planned out and in control as we like are, that future appointment with death is one we don’t set.

While we can’t set the date, we can prepare ourselves today. How? Here are a few questions to think on…

1. With whom are you offended? Life is too short to carry offense. Life is too sweet to have it soured with a root of bitterness. Take the high road. Be the bigger person. Extend grace to those who have hurt you.

2. Who have you neglected to appreciate? In life there are special people, that brighten our lives like stars in the night. Rarely do we take the time to express our appreciation. Sadly, we take them for granted, thinking they’ll always be there. Who do you need to celebrate today? Who do you need to lavish appreciation on today? Your spouse? What family members? What friends? Whoever comes to mind contact today, because you might not get another chance.

3. Have you made your peace with God? Don’t go into your appointment with death without having made your peace with God, knowing your sins are forgiven, assured that your future home is heaven. Prepare today, right now, for eternity. The great divide between ourselves and God is bridged when we put our faith in Jesus, in his life, death, and resurrection.

John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

30
Apr

How to Find the Source of Your Anger

If you have a pulse you’ve been angry. When we’re angry we feel like we’re burning up inside. We act strange – stomping out of rooms, throwing things, huffing and puffing, shouting and screaming, clinching our teeth, and shaking our fists. Others are masters of disguise, hiding their anger down deep where it festers and grows like a cancer.

I was talking to my friend and coach, Dick Savage (http://savidgeadventures.com), about the emotion of anger. He shared the following thoughts with me.

It’s important to understand that anger is almost always a secondary emotion. Underneath the emotion of anger, at its source, is hurt. Think about it. When you smash your thumb with a hammer what do you do? You don’t shout, “Praise the Lord!” You get angry because of the hurt.

We always go from being hurt to being angry. The next time you feel your fuse being lit, ask yourself, “How have I been hurt?” Get in touch with your hurt. Then, bring those hurts to the cross of Christ in prayer. That kind of prayer is critical. Say, “God, here’s where I’m hurting. I give my hurt and pain to you.”

Remember, you may need to back away and take a walk to give yourself some space to pray that prayer. That’s good to do. Just say, “I need to take a minute to think this through.” That’s not a sign of weakness but great strength.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”