Roots and Wings

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

Roots and Wings

We all need two basic things in life. The first is stability to be grounded and secure individuals. Only then can you be relationally healthy. The second is the vision and encouragement to discern and develop your unique gifts and aptitudes. Then you can recognize, pursue, and fulfill your calling. In simple terms, you need roots, and you need wings.

Today I want to focus on the latter—the wings. We all want to be discerning so that we can develop God’s design for our lives. But be prepared . . . it takes time and energy. It takes time to connect with God; to read and study His word, to pray, to talk to God and to listen to God, and connect with other people.

As you connect with God and connect with others, you will see God’s will for your life. It’s when you actively pursue life and pursue God . . . that you’ll see God’s will revealed. Don’t wait for it, move ahead and see it happen.

Steve Arterburn

No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley.” – Seneca the Younger (5 B.C.–A.D. 65)

 

Take Responsibility

Much is required from those to whom much is given. – Luke 12:48b

Take Responsibility

Sometimes taking responsibility for our lives means completing unfinished business. Some of us may have left a trail of broken laws and relationships–things that need addressing before moving on. Others may be burdened by debts that inhibit spiritual pursuits. Before moving forward spiritually, we’ll need to take responsibility for wrongs done in the past.

A new life in Christ doesn’t excuse past obligations or erase the ongoing consequences of past sins. When the apostle Paul was in prison he led a runaway slave named Onesimus to Christ. But then Paul sent him back to his master–even though Onesimus faced a possible death penalty for his offense! Paul sent a letter back with the fugitive saying that if Onesimus had caused any harm or stolen anything that Paul would pay for it. Paul recognized that even though Onesimus was now a Christian, and forgiven of his sins, he needed to address the wrongs he’s committed in the past.

Likewise, before you can move ahead, you must face the unfinished business of your past. This may include facing up to some cowardly behavior, crooked schemes, or quick-fix solutions to difficult problems that just didn’t work. While you can be certain that God will meet you where you are, He calls you to take responsibility for whatever sins may have brought you to whatever circumstances you’re presently in. Once you accept ownership of your past, God will help you move ahead. But He’ll do it His way, not yours.

– Steve Arterburn

No body ever did, or ever will escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Montapert (1906–1997)

 

The Differences Between Men and Women

The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. – 1 Corinthians 15:41

The Differences Between Men and Women

Consider these gender differences I found on a humorous website:

  • If Laura, Suzanne, and Debra go out for lunch, they’ll call each other Laura, Suzanne, and Debra. But if Mike, Charlie, and Bob go out they’ll refer to each other as Godzilla, Champ, and Grubby.
  • A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t want.
  • A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
  • A man has six items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, soap, and a towel. The average woman has 377 items. A man wouldn’t be able to identify most of them.

Recognizing differences is especially important when it comes to how we love. Understanding that everyone doesn’t share my experiences, nor do they think like me, are important steps in not being threatened; and they are important so you don’t feel anger at differences you note in how someone you love behaves or reacts.

Steve Arterburn

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” – Henry Kissinger (1923– )

 

Taming the Monster

It teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. – Titus 2:12

Taming the Monster

Are you aware that the vast majority of American homes are inhabited by a monster? It’s true. In fact, most homes now have several. Family rooms, bedrooms, and basements are their favorite spots. The older, larger, ones sometimes have four legs; and some of the younger ones hang on walls. Have you guessed? I’m talking about your televisions. And make no mistake about it: they are monsters.

Like many things in life, your television isn’t inherently bad. It has the potential to provide education and entertainment. The problem is, for most of us, the television has transgressed all proper and constructive boundaries in our homes and lives. Consequently, our conversations, our meals, our study time, our attention spans, our sleep–even our sex lives–have been invaded by this household monster.

You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water, but it wouldn’t hurt to set some boundaries for our TV use, both for us and for our kids.

– Steve Arterburn

If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.” – Johnny Carson (1925–2005)

 

Relationship Addiction

We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – Hebrews 6:18b–19

Relationship Addiction

Have you ever thought about being addicted to love? It sounds like a good thing to be addicted to, but clinically speaking, it’s a problem.

Relationship addicts live in a world of paradoxes that leaves them feeling they have no way out. They desperately want to get close to someone, but end up with a person whose problems make closeness impossible. They seek security, but end up with someone who always leaves the back door open for a quick get-away.

Relationship addicts crave unconditional love, but live in constant fear of abandonment if they don’t live up to their own impossible standards. They want to be free to love, but often trap themselves in a relationship by becoming pregnant or by weaving some other type of emotional spider web. Drowning in the whirlpool of their own emotions, they turn to a rescuer who cannot swim.

When all is said and done, for healing to occur, if you’re a relationship addict, you’ll need to come to the end of your own strength and seek God’s help to resolve the hurts of the past and move toward a genuine focus on others. Without this, relationship addicts are doomed to a cycle of misery and futility. Remember, you can never fix what only God can fix.

Steve Arterburn

God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are.” – Billy Graham (1918– )

 

Healthy Step-Families

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Healthy Step-Families

In 1990, I was given the privilege of a lifetime: the opportunity to adopt a wonderful little girl who has forever changed my life, my precious daughter Madeline.

In 2005, I made a new journey into fatherhood as two little boys became my stepsons. James and Carter are so smart and loving. It’s been a tremendous blessing for me to be what they call their ‘bonus Dad‘ and for them to be my ‘bonus boys.

And then, I became a biological father with the birth of my son, Solomon and my daughter, Amelia. I’m now a four time-blessed man, and I believe no less than four times a better man as well.

I know from experience that there’s amazing potential in blended families, as well as formidable challenges. There are a lot of suggestions and a lot of rules and boundaries blended families should consider. But the most important one of all is to keep God at the center of your home.

The best way for you to develop these character traits is to have a vibrant relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

– Steve Arterburn

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”-Charles R. Swindoll (1934-)

God and War

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. – Deuteronomy 4:39

God and War

Regardless of how you or I may feel about it, the brute fact remains: our country is at war, and has been for several years. War is a perplexing, gut-wrenching thing, It brings to the surface of our lives many of our worst fears and deepest prejudices, and along with them, some perplexing questions about God.

If that’s true for us as adults, just think about the questions that must be floating around in the heads of our children: Does God choose sides? Does He like war? Why does He allow wars to happen at all? How does God want us to think about those our country is at war with? How should we pray?

If you have a child or are close to a child, speak to him about these things. Let them see that you don’t have all the answers and that you have some of the questions he does. But most of all, assure them that God is in control and allows things to happen that we don’t understand . . . but He’s still in control.

– Steve Arterburn

“History is the record of divine manifestations imperfectly understood.”– Leopold Von Ranke (1795-1886)

Burnout

For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Exodus 31:15a

Burnout

Are you burned out, or in danger of burn out? Has your life gotten so busy that it takes every ounce of energy on a daily basis simply to keep from falling behind? And you’re not doing a very good job of that?

If so, I understand–it’s not a good feeling. Like the dilemma of having a tiger by the tail: let it go and it’ll gobble you up; hold on and you’re in for a wild ride. According to recent polls, the American workforce is burdened by a great deal of stress; 77 percent reported feeling occasional burnout, which, by the way doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, or other common groupings.

The first thing I would recommend this week if you’re feeling burnt out is that you honor that commandment about the Sabbath. Take a day where you spend time worshipping God and the rest of the day away from anything close to your daily grind. Take a walk. Go to a park or the beach. Stop receiving input and give your mind a rest.

Steve Arterburn

Until a man has found God, he begins at no beginning and works to no end.” – H. G. Wells (1866–1946)

Only Human or Superman?

Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. – Matthew 19:26

Only Human or Superman

It might be disappointing to you, but the truth is, you’re only human. You may think of yourself as Superman or Superwoman–until you discover a flaw. And the danger then is that you’ll come crashing down and see yourself as completely worthless. But seeing the whole truth about yourself means accepting your humanity and realizing your great  potential in Christ.

The prophet Elijah is one of the great men and heroes of the Bible. If any man had reason to feel superhuman, it was him. His prayers brought a lengthy drought upon Israel–and then brought fire down from heaven–which humiliated Queen Jezebel and her priests who worshiped Baal. But even Elijah could have a bad day. Listen to his reaction after Queen Jezebel threatened him:

I have had enough, Lord . . . Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors . . . I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their  covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:4, 10)

If you’re able to do superhuman things, it’s because God gives you the power to do so. Even those who are used powerfully by God must always realize they are only human. If you fail to see the truth that you’re only human, you’re at great risk during the times when life reminds you of that fact.

– Steve Arterburn

Some days you’re the bug. Some days you’re the windshield.” – Unknown

Developing Self-Control

Be self-controlled and alert. 1 Peter 5:8a

Developing Self-Control

Developing self-control will help you tremendously as you seek to follow and become more like Jesus. And what we learn in the Bible is that self-control is both a fruit of the Spirit and a part of a larger progression of spiritual growth.

Peter, who learned some difficult lessons about self-control himself wrote this: “Your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Where are you struggling to exert some self-control? Are you struggling to control your temper with your husband, wife, or kids? Are you struggling to work diligently? Or maybe you work so diligently on the job you feel you’re entitled to spend your evenings playing video games, watching TV, or closing the door of communication with your family. Are you having a hard time living without that drink? How about your eating or spending habits? I could go on and on, but I think you catch my drift.

Self-control is a “fruit” that grows in your life when you cling closely to God, allowing his Spirit to flow through you. As you persevere, God will develop his own character in you, including self-control. And remember, you’re not alone. Seek help from your pastor, a wise friend, or a counselor–God has put these people in your life to help you in your efforts to be faithful.

– Steve Arterburn

The greatest strength and wealth is self-control.” – Pythagoras (6th century B.C.)