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Tips#4

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I apologize. I haven’t been as energetic posting this week as I had planned. I wanted to give a few days for the RoadID video of me and Jo to hopefully find some traction but then life hit and has a way of interrupting. I’m sure you know what I mean so I won’t belabor that point. I’d like to continue my series on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.” You can read the previous 3 “Tips” posts here, here, and here.

#8- Don’t Play the Avoidance Game.  One of the most common reasons people don’t respond to a friend or person in need is fear. That’s right. Fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say. So they say nothing. Not only do they not say anything but they also avoid the whole situation.  They ignore the person’s pain completely. And in all honesty, that is sometimes more hurtful than truly trying to be a caring friend and saying the wrong thing or being tongue-tied. Not saying or doing anything or staying away can cut deeply.  Don’t stay away!

#9- Don’t Pledge General Help. “If there is anything I can do let me know.” “If you need me give me a call.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this said by some well-wisher at a funeral. I know they mean well but I have yet to find someone calling someone and saying, “You know. It’s been a hectic two weeks with mom being sick and then having her funeral last week. I really could stand to have my house cleaned. You said I could call you for anything. I’d like to ask for your help.” So be careful of pledging general help. Now…offering specific things like maybe babysitting or taking food or “running interference” is more like it.

#10- Don’t Condemn Them. The last time I looked we were not God. To pronounce God’s judgment on someone or to maybe toss out a false and helpful tidbit is uncalled for. I’m thinking of Job’s so-called friends right now: “What secret sin are you hiding?” “What are you doing that God is trying to get you to stop?” “Maybe He is trying to get you to stop smoking or (fill in the blank).” Do you remember the time in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples asked, “Who sinned? Him or his parents”? The truth is we have no idea what God is doing so why pretend to? Worse yet, why accuse? We do live in a broken world so death and suffering is part and parcel of it. But don’t condemn.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you. I was mindful of them as I visited in the hospital yesterday, especially since I was shy of details. May they help you be a better “minister” to hurting people.

Tips#3

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

I’ve been addressing a very touchy subject which really affects those who are struggling with pain and suffering. What sometimes happens is well-meaning people saying stupid ignorant things for various reasons. I’ve been using a book by Dave Furman called Being There as a reference.  You can check out the two previous posts on this subject here and here.  My summary of the first two posts of “Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things” is below. For a fuller discussion please check out the links to the previous posts.

#1- Don’t Be the Fix-it Person

#2- Don’t Play the Comparison Game

#3- Don’t Make It Their Identity

#4- Don’t Promise Deliverance Now

#5- Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On”

#6- Don’t Bring on the Inquisition.  The last thing a person suffering needs is the 3rd degree. When I was in the ER hallway for 8 hours following my bike wreck, I had some come by to see if I was okay. I was so grateful they didn’t give me or Jo the 3rd degree. Was it a car? Where was it at? Did he go into a ditch? All sorts of scenarios went through peoples’ minds I’m sure, but they were gracious enough and didn’t ask. Since I was somewhat out of it from time to time they were also wise enough not to text my phone.  If you find yourself in a visiting situation, this is not the time to “play Job’s friends” and ask questions like “Was it his/her fault?” If you are at a funeral home, don’t go asking if the person was close to the deceased person. When at a loss for words the best thing to say may be, “I just want you to know I love you and am praying for you.” The Bible says to “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”  So…do you really think I wanted to hear questions?

#7- Don’t Be Hyperspiritual.  I’ve heard this. You have too. Sadly, and to my horror, I’m sure I have even said it.  Can you imagine how insensitive it is to go up to someone who has just lost a baby or a father or a (fill in the blank) and say, “Praise the Lord! They are in heaven!” Or “Praise the Lord no more pain!” It is one thing to agree with the grieving person who might say that, but to offer it? WOW! That is the height of insensitivity. How about the cliches we use: “Look on the bright side.” What bright side? “I’ve just lost someone close to me for crying out loud!” Sorry…better get off my soapbox.  Again, the best thing to do is just be there.

Whew! I am long-winded. I’ll continue this another post. Please feel free to comment and if you think this is helpful please pass it along.

Tips#2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

As promised (I know you were waiting with baited breath), I want to continue my posts on basically what to say and what not to say to a person who is hurting or grieving. These are adapted from the book by Dave Furman called Being There. The first three were in this post and while I’m going to list them here, you can check out a further explanation by checking out the post.

#1. Don’t Be the Fix-It Person.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.

#3. Don’t Make it Their Identity.

#4. Don’t Promise Deliverance Now. This is really huge right now in the religious world. False teachers/cult leaders/prosperity teachers and other heretical personalities are promising deliverance. You know how it works. They come to you saying, “I just know you are going to be healed. God has told me He will do that.” They might even tell you to think positive. Think good thoughts, happy thoughts. Get rid of all negativity. Kum-ba-yah and all that other rot.  IMHO you are not there to be their personal faith guru or their guarantor of God’s healing power. I get so sick of heretics making false claims of healing, getting peoples’ hopes up only to watch them and their faith come crashing down because “God didn’t come through.” I do like what the author says is key to this thought: “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.” (p.119)

#5. Don’t Encourage Them to Just “Move On.” You find this in the more “I’m going to take you to the good side by constantly telling you to leave all your troubles behind” kind of person.  That approach seems so calloused if you ask me.  This person is literally telling the hurting person his/her life has been on hold for way too long and it is time get over it.  Now…granted there is a fine line between wallowing in your pity and grieving appropriately. Grieving is so essential, but so is adequate grieving. When we, by our words or actions, tell people it is high time they got over their grieving, we are essentially saying, “I’m tired of dealing with this issue with you.”  One of the things I keep telling myself is people grieve differently and at different speeds. Do I think some people “milk” it? Sure. But, at the same time, who am I to think someone “ought to be over it by now”?

Well, I’m sorry this has gotten so long. I didn’t think I had this much in me. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll post some more tips in another day or two. I invite you back for another visit. And feel free to share this if you think it will help someone.

 

Tips

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Not restaurant tips but helpful tips. Further explanation: I just finished a book by David Furman entitled Being There. David lives with a chronic nerve disease so he was passing along what it was like and also how we as friends and followers of Christ can just “be there” for people. One chapter was titled Whatever You Do, Don’t Do These Things.  He gave a list of 10 infamous things to remember when trying to help/minister to those who are hurting.

He introduces the tips with a story. I’ll abbreviate it. Two pilots were landing in a small city and accidentally touched down at a much smaller private airport seven miles away from their intended destination. They barely survived a crash landing. During their approach they were in touch with the control tower and were told they were 15 miles away from their target.  They responded they had their target in sight and were going to land.

Upon landing they had to stomp on their brakes extra hard to avoid going over a ledge, and nearly crashed the plane. They admitted to being shocked at their mistake and told investigators that they saw the lights of the airport in front of them and so they landed there. They honestly thought it was the right airport!

How crazy is that story? But it lends itself to what David is about to tell us.  It doesn’t matter how sincere you are if you are landing in the wrong place. We can be really sincere in trying to help people but saying and doing the wrong thing can be (or should I say “is?”) bad. It can be devastating to the hurting person. Okay…so what are his 10 “laws?” I’m going to split the 10 into 2 posts so as not to overwhelm or go too long.

#1. Don’t be the Fix-it Person.  Don’t be the person who offers unsolicited advice or unsolicited medical “miracles” to the person who is hurting. Don’t you think they have tried about everything already? I’m sure if they are seeking to be free from the chronic pain they have gone to a ton of doctors and have probably tried every homegrown recipe there is. Instead of advice, ask questions to understand them and their situation better.

#2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game.  When you talk to people don’t try to compare their sickness, pain, illness to yours or someone else. Your occasional gout flare-up is nothing like the pain from chemo. Your granny’s (from your third cousin removed) illness is not the same. Don’t compare the person with yours or anyone else.  Above all…don’t start with “At least”…they are better off or something cockeyed like that.

#3.  Don’t Make it Their Identity.  In other words, every time you see or talk to that person don’t ask them about their illness or their bank account or whatever it is that has them in pain. Don’t make that their identity. In fact, sometimes it is best just not to bring it up. Maybe a slight mention when it arises but stay away from identifying them with the illness or pain.

Okay…I’m going to stop there. This is getting way too long. I’ll continue with the next post. Hope these help.

Nostalgia#3

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

When I was first introduced to Christian music it was in high school but it was “old” stuff. When I went to college I was introduced to Gospel Quartet music and since that was all I knew (other than my “secular” bands) that was what I listened to. I graduated from college in 1974 and for a few years listened to more “oldies” rock and roll. But in the later half of the 70s I heard of bands like Resurrection Band (Rez Band), Darrel Mansfield, Sweet Comfort Band, and others.  But there was one band which struck my fancy. The first time I heard them I was hooked.

Their album Straight On was played over and over (by LP and cassette). Remember those?  🙂 The ensuing years brought Stella This Ain’t Hollywood; a Double Live album and multiple others. The two founders were friends since 1st grade. They grew up in Memphis and loved rock ‘n roll music. Their conversions to Christ gave them the motivation to make “another kind of music.” Music with meaning.

Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key were the brain-masters of DeGarmo and Key, one of the pioneers of Christian rock. After a run of over 20+ years of making music together, they chose to make solo projects. One of Dana’s most heart wrenching songs was his song to Eric Clapton following Mr. Clapton’s song, Tears in Heaven. Dana’s song was simply titled Dear Mr. Clapton.  On June 6, 2010 Dana died of a ruptured blood clot at the age of 56.  Tragically his wife died a couple years later at the age of 52.

My song of nostalgia is one DeGarmo and Key’s early songs. But it stands as #3 on my hit list. I never tire of hearing it. I love the lesson it teaches. I love the imagery it presents of the Christian race being a long distance run. I know many of you don’t/won’t like this song, maybe because “I don’t like rock music.”  But all I ask is that you give it a listen. You will be surprised at the lyrics and that it is easy to listen to.

Here is Long Distance Runner by DeGarmo & Key. Sorry I couldn’t find it the lyrics but I think they are pretty clear.

Control

Friday, September 14th, 2018

As not in…being a control freak.

BUT

As in losing control…

As in anger management…

As in flying off the handle…

You get the drift. Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Don’t Lose Control!”

There are times when anger is valid. But we also know there have been times when anger is nothing more than a selfish reaction to something not going our way rather than a justified response. Proverbs says a lot about anger and losing control.

“Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the wise quietly shrug off insults.” 12:16 (MSG)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” 12:18

“Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” 19:19 (NLT)

Ephesians 4:27 is the coup de grace of verses. As I said, there are time anger is valid but way too often it is nothing more than a “flash” or heated response to something that happens or something said. As I was studying for this message a phrase came to mind, a little catch-phrase. I’d like to say it was my idea but who knows?  I’m sure someone else has thought of it.

DON’T NURSE; REVERSE!

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” 29:11

I like what someone said: “You can’t put your foot in your mouth when it is closed.”

And finally. My prayer? “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps.141:3) The New Century Version (NCV) puts that verse this way: “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”

Disappointment

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

We all have our share of disappointments. Some have more than others and they run the gamut of examples.

Disappointment for a grade lower than I thought.

Disappointment for being passed over for a promotion.

Disappointment in losing the big game.

Disappointment in one of our children making wrong choices (although we don’t stop loving them).

The list goes on and on. I’m guessing there is a different disappointment for every person who might read this.

So when I write about my disappointment it might seem sort of silly. Juvenile. Frivolous even. So be it. We just had some folks come back from Disney World (Florida).  I can guarantee they would have been disappointed if their trip, planned for close to 6 months and costing them some hard-earned money, was not all they had hoped. Fortunately, it was and their three children can attest to that. When you work and plan and work and plan then work the plan and it is not what you thought disappointment is sure to set in.

I’m disappointed. The MS ride I had planned for; raised money for ($800 thank you everyone); trained for and have been looking forward to was canceled. There was a good reason, obviously, or they wouldn’t have canceled it. It is called M-O-N-S-O-O-N. That’s right…a monsoon. I know. I know. Indiana doesn’t have them. Oh yes we do! Especially when Hurricane Gordon decides to send his remnants to the Midwest.  It started raining Thursday night/Friday morning sometime  and eventually developed into that monsoon I spoke about. By the time Jo & I had driven to Indy; picked up Dave (who flew in from Arizona); and made it to the MS kick-off site, they had already canceled it. Friday. The ride was Saturday. Disappointed yes. Wise decision? Most definitely. It would have been totally stupid to ride in the driving rain and on the slick roads. We received somewhere (I heard) between 5-12″ of rain.  I don’t know. What I do know is it was wise to cancel. Not only does the pavement get slick, the lines get like ice. There was a potential for devastating wrecks.  And trust me when i say riding in the rain in wet cycling clothes is no picnic. In fact, it just might give new meaning to “Ride from (you know where).”

So…for all of you who gave toward my ride. Thanks. The money still went to the MS Society. For all of those who prayed for a safe ride. Thanks. It was better being safe than sorry.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Sun too. 🙂 Dave has asked me to come to Arizona to ride in the MS ride that takes place in Phoenix this coming March. If we can swing it, I plan to do that.

I’m a firm believer there is a purpose and meaning in all of God’s workings. One of these days I’m sure I will see His reason for this disappointment.

 

SayWhat?

Friday, September 7th, 2018

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So says Proverbs 18:21.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” How ridiculous is that?

Oswald Chambers once wrote: “The great test of a man’s character is his tongue.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” (Ben Franklin)

All sorts of thoughts about our speech.  All from different sources but all are rather telling. The words we use affect others. Here is another: “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus in Mt.12:36-37

Much of the strife in our families, offices, churches, dorms, schools, and our nation can often be traced back to our words. Gossip has sent whole churches into meltdown. It can destroy morale at work. Ill-timed or angry words can send a team or player into a tailspin.

James talks about the tongue and says, “Can salt water and fresh water come from the same source?” It is quite damaging to our witness when our tongue is out of control. This Sunday (as I bet you can guess) my sermon is about the power of words. I’m going to do a contrast by showing:

The Power of Words-Used Wrongly

and

The Power of Words-Used Correctly

 

The story is told of a woman who complained to a Puritan pastor about the clerical bands he wore with his robe. Saying they annoyed her greatly because they were too long, she asked his permission to shorten them.  He quietly acquiesced and handed her the offending bands. Armed with her scissors, she shortened them according to her tastes and handed the fragments back to him. Unruffled, he thanked her and said, “Now, my good woman, there is something about you that is altogether too long that has annoyed me greatly. And since one good turn deserves another, I would like permission to shorten it.”

“Certainly,” she said, “you have my permission and here are the scissors.”

Whereupon the wise pastor said, “Very well, madam, put out your tongue.”

‘Nuff said.

Nostalgia

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

I’m feeling nostalgic for some reason. I didn’t post a song last week because I know my style of music is not most of my reader’s style. But lately, even as I drive and workout or cut grass, Spotify has been on several of my “oldies” lists. So I decided to wax nostalgic for a few weeks. Over the next 5 weeks I’m going to post my Top 5 favorite songs of all time. I don’t know if you have ever done this but I do rankings in my mind a lot. I’m going to start from Top to bottom as opposed to bottom to top.

The ’60s was an age of upheaval and sometimes strange music. A war that seemed to have no beginning; no rhyme or reason; no ending dominated the airwaves. Campus unrest was the norm. Long hair on guys became more common than short hair. Many women went with the long, straight look. Clothes were definitely a different look than the ’50s more prim and proper suit with the straight leg pants.

But the music! The music! Once dominated by doo-wop and lounge-type singers and Elvis suddenly turned 360 degrees. Strange sounds were coming out the guitars. Long guitar and drum solos. Loud music. Songs which talked more openly about sex and drugs were pretty much across the board.  It was during this time I was in my teen years. Jimi Hendrix. Led Zepplin. Vanilla Fudge. Grand Funk Railroad. Even the Beatles were still slightly in the mix (although I never was much of a fan).

Into this mix came my favorite group. Psychedelic they were not. Not by a long shot. I was in Junior High when they hit it big with one song dug out of a bin by a DJ in Pittsburgh. Hanky Panky became a song which launched Tommy James and the Shondells into the atmosphere.  But in time even they were influenced by the music of the Woodstock generation and they released Crimson and Clover. (I always liked the longer version).  But while I like that song, it was the next one which was released that caught my attention and is still today my #1 song of all time. Tommy says it was inspired by his reading of the Bible. He was searching for meaning to life and an escape from the drugs which had begun to take over his life. He read the Bible. His book tells how he accepted Christ but still struggled with his demons. I believe he has put them behind him now. His voice today has lost some of its upper register (as is typical) but it is still rich and soothing.  And yes, I still listen to him…a lot.

So to start out this Top 5 series, here is my #1 song of all time.

From 1969

From a live concert at the Bitter End.

Hope you enjoy!

Advice

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Several thoughts go through my head concerning advice. It is warranted? Is it kind? Harsh? Does it come from someone who cares about me? Is it solicited or unsolicited?

It’s not always easy listening to someone else, whether they have our good in mind or not. None of us like to be someone’s verbal punching bag.  Admittedly, the hardest advice to take is that which is corrective. The passage of Scripture I’m speaking about this Sunday is one of those: Proverbs 6:1-15. I’ve titled it Pull Up a Chair because I want it to be like we are asking someone to come sit with us for a spell and chat.

There is so much practical advice in this passage of Scripture!  Here is how I’m approaching it:

Don’t get entangled.  (Verses 1-5)  Some very practical advice tangled up in things we need to avoid. In particular, co-signing on a loan. There is a lot to say about getting ourselves tangled up.

Don’t be lazy. (Verses 6-11)  No one wants to be compared to a slug let alone be called one! Laziness is something to avoid.

Don’t be divisive. (Verses 12-15).  There is no doubt we get our fair share of snakes in the grass. Divisive people are charming on the outside but snakes on the inside. We are being warned against them.

These are all common everyday issues. Solomon gives some very wise advice. I’m praying I share it with loving candor, sort of like pulling up a chair and having a heart-to-heart chat.  Your prayers would be appreciated.