How do you respond to a friend or an acquaintance who keeps screwing up?

I have been working through an issue for a while now. Where most posts go in a clear direction, this will be a ‘thinking on paper’ post. I researched as I wrote it. Welcome to my thought processes.

I watched a habitual user lose her kids again. She is very clearly broken as a person. Most can hide their brokenness, she could not. Her being caught made her friend clean up her act so she isn’t caught. The OCD Vampire’s puritan streak inside me started to spin into lecture mode.

“She had to face being caught before she would clean up.”

It wasn’t because it was right or she’d never started. She did start to clean up though. Then the Holy Spirit brought this verse to mind, “I desire mercy, not sacrifices’. It’s what Jesus told the Pharisees when he ate with sinners. Sometimes I forget we’re all bad in one form or another. Looking at the Sermon on the Mount is reminding me of that.

Here is my struggle: how do you respond to a friend or an acquaintance who keeps screwing up? They’re sad and angry but knew what would happen if they were caught. The Bible term is unrepentant. How do you respond to someone who isn’t even sorry?

How are you supposed to respond with love and grace in a manner that puts them on the right path?

Simply saying that they deserve it is easy. If done with condemnation, we can push them away. How can you comfort them without enabling or promoting the bad behavior? Is it possible?

Pastor Rod did a series titled 3 Questions. One sermon was on truth telling. Here is the link →here. From Galatians 4:16, he goes into truth principles, telling the difference between helpers and manipulators, and how to get truth tellers back into our lives. Sometimes it doesn’t go well for us.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27: 5-6

I do know there are three things that are key for me in this situation.

  1. The goal should be to redeem and restore, not condemn and punish.
  2. It works best in a trusting relationship.
  3. If we’re excited about confronting them, then we are not the person for the task.

On number one, I admittedly walk a line between the two. We have butted heads before, years ago. This makes the context of number two unavailable to me. I am not excited about confronting, though; I’m at a loss. This requires someone else to be the voice of reason.

What would you do in this situation?


Putting the Christ back into Christians; Is Christianity Losing Its Relevancy?

Is Christianity losing its relevancy? Maybe even outdated? No, it is just hard to see in a lot of us as Christians. Jesus said we are to be salt and light yet we either blend into the world or pour the salt in wounds and blind people. Can you spot the Christians around you just by their day-to-day behavior?

The last few months, I have been studying the Gospel events in chronological order. I was looking forward to the Sermon on the Mount and I finally arrived. It didn’t take long for some things to become apparent in the Beatitudes alone.

  • They were directed at Christ-Followers on what we are to be like.
  • The Beatitudes are our Be Attitudes or attitudes of being.
  • They describe character traits, actions and what to expect in life.
  • In tandem with Luke’s account, they contrast between a follower of Christ and worldview of society.

That is what makes us like salt and light.matthew5.13-15.scripturePhoto_lg

I like using the Amplified version of the Bible to expand on the meanings of the ancient languages. Here is the link for Matthew 5: 1-16 so you can follow along in the Amplified→here.

So what is it like to be salt and light?

First, we are blessed. The translation’s definition summed up is filled with hope and joy despite our circumstances.

We Should Be…

  • Without spiritual arrogance (poor in spirit)
  • Saddened by our sins and turning away from them (those who mourn)
  • Kind-hearted, gentle, and self-controlled (meek)

Because of this, we’ll be given the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort as our sins are lifted by Christ, and will inherit the world.

We Should…

  • Actively seek right standing with God (righteousness)
  • Be compassionate and showing forbearance (merciful)
  • Have and exhibit integrity, moral courage, and godly courage (pure in heart)
  • Make and maintain peace (peacemakers)

How do these stand out in the world overall in comparison? How should we be standing out?

The World Followers of Christ
Puts themselves first. Joyfully put themselves last.
Pleasure and happiness at any cost. Seek first the Kingdom of God
Seeks power and control. Self-controlled, submits to Christ fully
Pursues whatever they desire Thirst for God, putting him first
Lacks compassion for others Shows compassion for others
The end justifies the means Integrity and moral courage (salt and light)
Not my problem Deals with the problem
Makes weak commitments Stand by their commitments

Would you notice people acting like this? I would for sure, especially if it’s only a few doing it in a crowd. Here’s the rub though; we cannot do it. How can someone self-centered maintain putting themselves last for any length of time? Can you meet these standards? I know I can’t for sure.15246-walk-in-the-spirit

How can we do it?

We don’t. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. First, He starts by making us more like Christ in our character. I go in depth about the process on my retired blog First Samuel here at How Can Anyone Be Good Enough to Represent Jesus? Those character traits I mentioned earlier are found in the Fruits of the Spirit, which I address in Workaholic or Worship.

The key is in answering this question. Are you trying to keep the rules yourself or are you filled with the Spirit?

If we rely on our own strength, it will fail. Jesus warned that apart from Him we could do nothing. In John 15: 1-11, Jesus tells us he is the vine that gives life to the branches. This means we aren’t alone in this.

Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon salvation to seal us for God. In John 16: 5-15, Jesus goes into part of what the Holy Spirit does for us. Paul in Ephesians 5: 6-16 told the church to emulate God and what that looks like. How it happens is in verses 17-18 that follows.

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”

To be filled with the Spirit like wine. Wine affects our choices and the ability plus the courage to do things. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to choose along with the courage to act. It looks like this:

“13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5: 13-25 NIV

608957-483-4Here are some resources to help you walk in the Spirit that helped me:

A Spirit-Empowered Life: Discover the World Changing Journey God has Designed for You

Immediate Obedience: The Adventure of Tuning into God

The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You

I have read these multiple times and will end my year reading them again. So what struggles have you had with being salt and light and standing out in the world?

What Standard, It’s All Relative Isn’t It?

I was advising a friend on Facebook when another friend commented that morality is subjective. It highlights a problem in our society. People don’t believe in objective standards. Truth is relative. Morality is gray and you make your own up. It’s actually not a new thought.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 17: 6 and Judge 21: 25

The book of Judges is a very dark book. Those with any character were rife with faults and still stood head and shoulders over those around them. Gideon was a coward, Samson was devious and loved the hookers, and one guy from the priest class gave his concubine to be gang raped to death to save his own neck. Before that, his host tried to give them his virgin daughter to save themselves.

It’s illogical to think truth is relative. “There is no truth” is defeated by asking if that’s a true statement. Yes, and they defeated their point. No, and their point has no basis. I don’t know and we have a conversation.

As for morality? We argue daily about the value of life. To even have a grey area, there has to be black and white. There actually is an objective standard.

  1. We cannot say anything is bad without something good to compare it to.
  2. J. Warner Wallace said add ‘for the fun of it’ to cut right through the gray area. “I ran them off the road for the fun of it.”
  3. Jonathon Morrow from Think Christianly said ask this simple question: “Are you really saying that there is no moral difference between Mother Theresa and Adolf Hitler?” in the context of the conversation I linked to.

Relativism is intellectually lazy. Yes, we are taking in tons of information. We still have to make a decision though, not just deciding ‘it’s all true.’ Critical thinking is required or else we risk becoming so open minded our brains fall out or we believe nothing, which leads to close-mindedness.

Relativistic morality makes it impossible to legitimately stand for anything. There would be no justice. MLK Jr. would be just another guy with an opinion. Why should the majority change for the minority in that case?

Here is the acid test for people actually believing in an objective standard. Try to take all their rights and property, or tell them to do something they disagree with. Eventually you’ll find that things aren’t so gray for them after all.


Proverbial Wisdom; Doing What’s Right When Friendship Is On The Line

It’s easy to do good when there isn’t any pressure. Other times there are consequences for doing the right thing, like when we have to own up to a screw up. That hits us right in the pride.

What’s harder than that is when we have to tell our friends ‘no’. When we have to lovingly confront them with a wrong they’re doing (Matthew 18: 15). This is where our integrity is tested.

Like in a situation where we walk into the crossfire between warring friends, or are pulled into it by one asking for help. How should we act?

“Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” Proverbs 13:6 NIV

We do what is right, of course. Let’s make it a little more complicated. One friend, Jimmy, is withholding Bruce’s mail. Bruce owes Jimmy money. Jimmy plans to use the mail to get the money owed by Bruce.

Bruce asks Steve to go get his mail. Steve’s a regular do-gooder so he’s happy to help. He walks in clueless and gets the mail he sees when he visits Jimmy.

Jimmy finds out and is angry with Steve. He demands that he bring it back so he can hold it ransom until he’s paid back. Steve knows that the mail doesn’t belong to Jimmy. What should Steve do? Both are his friends and he knows who the mail belongs to.

“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” Proverbs 24: 10-12 NLT

You stay faithful to the truth of what is right. Then you act fairly.

“It is wrong to show favoritism when passing judgment. A judge who says to the wicked, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations.” Proverbs 24: 23-24 NLT

Doing what is right is hard sometimes. It can even cost you a friend. It sucks and it can work out at least two ways.

They’ll continue on in their ways and this will be the wise choice for you:

“Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” Proverbs 24: 1-2 NLT

Maybe they’ll realize that you were the one friend that kept them accountable. They straighten up their act and work to reconcile the relationship with you. Then this proverb goes into effect:

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 NLT

Have you ever found yourself pulled into two directions at once? Between the easy choice and the hard choice; what did you choose?


Five Principles That A Hebrew Slave Used to Lead A Nation

2f2f27aHow can an intern become a CEO? Big thing to consider, heh? How’s this for scale? An illegal immigrant becoming a vice-president of the United States. I know I would be unqualified. When I considered the scale of what I accepted with the promotion, I felt inadequate.

This verse from Joseph’s story kept coming to my mind; ‘the Lord was with him.’

Why was God with Joseph? What did Joseph do? For one, he was part of a larger plan and did not realize it until years later. You can read his story in Genesis 37 and Genesis 39-50. I am focusing on Genesis 38-41:46 to see what is up with that verse.

What Did Joseph Do

  1. He did his best no matter the task or place.
  2. He knew his limits. When we end, God can begin. It is why Paul praised his weaknesses.
  3. He had good character as evidenced with Potiphar’s wife.
  4. He acted with integrity. Christians are to be like Christ so this is important.
  5. He learned the lessons that experience gave him so he was prepared.

This is my game plan as I do my job. Truly, we should do this every waking moment. To do our best, involve God always so we can ‘have the Lord with us’, to love God and love people like Jesus did. Finally, to always learn.

I am the most experienced in the department I came from. In all the other departments, the guys there are better than I am. So I have to set my ego aside and learn from their experience. How do you tackle your mountains?