Answer Carefully

internet-business-questions-answeredPeople ask a lot of questions. And that is good. As Christians, if we’re not being asked questions, there’s a problem. Either we’re not getting out and about enough, or we’re not approachable enough.

I’m not just talking about questions from people who aren’t Christians. Christians need to ask each other questions, too. But we must be careful answering questions. We don’t have all the answers. Even when we think we have an answer, we need to accept the possibility (and responsibility) of being wrong. That might not be our intent, but it’s always possible.

There is always a motivation behind the question, and it might not be obvious. Questions that might sound like interpretation are more than likely questions of application. People might ask, “What does this mean?” or “What do you think the truth is about…?” But the underlying question is often “What do I do with this?” or “How will you respond to me even if I disagree?”

You can’t know all the implications behind the question, but you can always answer with humility and respect. Speaking the truth is always important, because it is the only firm foundation for the relationship, for you, and for the other person. But speaking the truth always needs to be done in love, which involves respect, patience, kindness, and self-control.

 

Revenge

50de6fce2b9596cfc111e5bbced8ba12We often wait a long time for revenge, to pay back what has been done to or slighted of us or someone we love.

Absalom didn’t say anything to Amnon, either good or bad, because he hated Amnon since he disgraced his sister Tamar.

Two years later…

Absalom has planned this ever since the day Amnon disgraced his sister Tamar.” (2 Samuel 13:22-23a,32b)

Through the time we wait, the revenge, discontentment, and anger takes root. It not only affects us but also others. Whether we realize it or not, what is going on inside of us spills onto others, and it’s not pleasant. It might make us feel good, but feelings betray us. We might think we’re allowing for a safety release, but what we’re releasing isn’t safe. We might think we’re justified, but taking control rarely is. Self-control that’s God led? Yes. God-control? Yes. Control based on our own limited understanding, strength, and feelings? No.

Whatever is eating at you from the inside out is too much for you to handle. But it’s not too much for God.

Steep, Don’t Dip

One of the things I appreciated most when recently speaking north of Toronto was the excellent tea. In most places I travel (and live), when I ask for a cup of hot tea, I get a cup of hot water with a tea bag. I don’t get tea; I get potential tea.

Tea needs to steep. That’s how the flavor floods the water so it is bold and consistent. Dipping a tea bag in water that cools with every passing second doesn’t have the same effect. Steeping requires heat and time.

There is a lot in our lives that needs to be steeped with heat and time, yet we prefer to dip. We cautiously, repeatedly dip and are satisfied with the results because we see some change. We don’t worry about the potential, better results we could get with a different process, because we rationalize contentment with our smaller efforts. We don’t want to endure the heat, and we certainly don’t want to wait across much time.

The topic of the weekend at the conference was joy, and we talked about how we can’t expect to truly experience the fullness of the joy God intends by just dipping into it every now and then. We need to steep in it, so that its flavor truly permeates us.

Isn’t that the case with so much of what God provides and wants for us?

What would happen if we steeped in His love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? His mercy, grace, forgiveness, generosity, wisdom, power, justice, and compassion?

Steep or dip? It’s your choice.

Fit Faith: Agility: Trampoline Tips

When my oldest daughter was five years old, she wanted a trampoline. I wasn’t opposed to having a trampoline. I’d been in gymnastics for years when I was younger, and I knew the trampoline would provide many hours of entertainment and exercise, but I also knew it could be dangerous. I thought I’d postpone the trampoline-buying experience by telling her we’d get a trampoline as soon as she saved enough money. With an upcoming birthday and some added help from grandparents, the saving process didn’t take as long as I expected.

We set up the trampoline in the backyard but established firm rules before anyone jumped on it for the first time. We wanted to make sure the girls learned tricks progressively: no double flips before learning to bounce repeatedly while staying in the middle of the trampoline! As the skill levels increased, I caught myself replaying many of the things I learned in gymnastics, specifically, how you must place your body not throw your body.

In other words, if you see someone do something and think you can duplicate it, you need to have a plan for what you’re going to do with your body before you haphazardly throw it into the air! That’s how people get hurt. It’s important to have as much control over where your body is and how it’s moving when it’s twisting high in the air as when you’re standing or walking with feet firmly planted on the ground.

I remember my gymnastics trainer explaining to me what my body would have to do before I tried my first full-twisting back. I’d seen others do the same stunt hundreds of times, but I likely would have broken something had I simply thrown my body into the air and tried to duplicate what I’d seen. I know I wouldn’t have completed it successfully. Even with the instruction, I didn’t complete it successfully the first time – or many times after that. However, my attempts were increasingly more accurate and safe. To be honest, the technique my trainer taught me was nothing like what I would have tried on my own. I had no idea the intricacies involved in what I’d watched so many times.

It’s fun to fly through the air. It’s important to be agile, which involves quickness. However, agility also involves strength and power. It’s the coordination of nimbleness and control.

Spiritual growth requires agility. We need to be ready to response quickly to a wide variety of opportunities and situations. We need to respond with assurance.

Learn the truth and never reject it. Get wisdom, self-control, and understanding. (Proverbs 23:23)

When we have self-control, we respond with strength and power but not our own strength and power. We yield to God. We seek his wisdom and understanding, which provides us with the guidance and provision we need to proceed. We don’t simply look at what someone else is doing and try to copy it. We don’t throw our faith haphazardly in the air, hoping to master a specific skill or accomplish a level of achievement. We place ourselves intentionally in a relationship with God and then proceed with trust he will train us with intricacies we’d never imagine by just glancing at an end product.

God wants our participation. He invites us into a relationship of trust that allows us to respond quickly to him in all situations, accessing his power and strength to help us accomplish immeasurably more than we can imagine on our own.