Category Archives: Encouragement

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.  The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.  “Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life…God, family, children, health, the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

So pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. “Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.”  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.” (Borrowed)

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Encouragement


‘Men of Courage’ Mission Statement and Principles

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

— I Corinthians 16:13

The Men of Courage Mission Statement – “Relying on God’s power and spirit to transform men through authenticity, affirmation, and accountability into the men God has called us to be”

Key Principles –  The men’s ministry of the ________________  strives to develop an environment based on three key biblical principles:

Authenticity –  We hope to foster a climate of genuineness and transparency where men can drop their spiritual masks. I Peter 1:6-9 states, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Affirmation – We believe in the importance of a climate of acceptance and encouragement.  John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart says that every man is haunted by the question “Have I got what it takes when it counts?”  We want to develop an environment in which men can come as they are without fear of rejection.  We’re commanded in Romans 15:7 to “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”changing lives

Accountability – We want to cultivate a climate of responsibility, not policing each other but supporting each other through shared struggles.  Secrecy and Isolation are Satan’s greatest tools, and accountability destroys their power.  The Hebrew writer encourages us to maintain accountability.  “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13. Through God’s power, we believe that in a climate of authenticity, affirmation, and accountability, ordinary men can be transformed into Men of Courage.

Men of Courage Breakfast and Bible Study

We’d like to establish a time when we can gather for fellowship and a short Bible study. Breakfast can be served and also we will be encouraged to invite your friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

 Recovery/Support Groups

In an effort to help those men who may be struggling, we’ll also see if we have a need for support groups that can be used to address current issues in our lives.

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Posted by on March 5, 2018 in Encouragement


Facing change, which “is the nursery of music, joy, life, and eternity”

Mark Twain was both wise and observant…and was “right on” when he said that “the only person who likes change is a wet baby.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick laid it out plainly for us to see and comprehend: “Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it.

We might also add: and embrace it!

Change is one of the most threatening things many of us face in life and yet we encounter it every day. The universe itself is changing. Scientists tell us that all ob­served systems are continually changing from order to disor­der, and that every transformation of energy is accompanied by a loss in the availability of energy for future use. In other words, our universe is running down.

Besides that, the world we live in is changing. Highly so­phisticated technical developments have radically altered our lifestyle, and now they threaten our very existence. Ideologi­cal developments have changed the balance of world power and threaten our freedom as a nation. Governments are toppled and new ones established overnight, and sometimes it seems as though revolutions are as common as eating and sleeping. Every day the news reports focus on some new changes occurring in our world.

People change. One day we may be in a good mood, the next day in an ugly mood. And it is disconcerting if we never know what to expect from our wives, our husbands, our parents, or our bosses. Nice people sometimes get irritable and touchy. Fortunately, grouchy people sometimes get nicer.

But we all change. That is the nature of creature hood, and that is the nature of life. We find it unpleasant and intimidating at times. We would rather keep things the way they always were because the old and the familiar are more secure and comfortable, like an old shoe. But shoes wear out and need to be replaced, as does most everything else in life. So we struggle to adjust to change.

We grow and we strive to better ourselves, and that is change. Sometimes our sense of well‑being collapses around us; we lose our health, our loved ones, our money, or our material possessions, and that is change. Our bodies begin to wear out; we can no longer do the things we used to do, and that is change. It is all unsettling and unnerving, but it is inevitable. What can we do about it? Is there anything unchanging that we can hold on to in a world where everything is so tenuous and transitory?

We live in a time of unprecedented discoveries, many of which tend to make life longer and living more comfortable and enjoyable. But with change and progress the inexorable law of change and decay also operates. Strange that so few in this world prepare for the inevitable. [2]

The past, present, and potential difficulties of the future find their ‘rest’ when we realize that if we are to better the future we must disturb the present. [3]


[1] John Donne (1572–1631)

[2] L. Nelson Bell.  Christianity Today, Vol. 1, reprinted Vol. 40, no. 10.

[3] Catherine Booth in The Life of Catherine Booth (Vol. 2); Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 6.

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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Encouragement


Some Pictures of Forgiveness

Removing offense far, far away from us (Ps 103:12)

forgiveness (1)(Psalm 103:12 NIV)  “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 Putting offenses behind our backs (Isa. 38:17)

(Isa 38:17 NIV)  “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

 Blotting out what was done  (Isa. 43:25; Psalm 51:1, 9)

(Isa 43:25 NIV)  “”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

 (Psa 51:1 NIV)  ” Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

 (Psa 51:9 NIV)  “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”

 Casting the offense in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19)

(Micah 7:19 NIV)  “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

It means releasing the resentment, hatred, bitterness, ill-will & desire for revenge.  It means you don’t hold a grudge, or cherish bitterness or harbor any desire to harm them. It means dropping the case we have against them.

Does have to be from the heart (Mat 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). Can’t just say the words. This is difficult to determine sometimes because we can’t necessarily keep ourselves from having primary feelings like anger. But we can make choices, including the choice to let go of the things that anger often leads to, like resentment, hatred, bitterness, & ill will.

It also means we stop trying to make them pay (we cancelled the debt so we can’t demand any more payments). We stop exacting psychological payment. If we forgive, we don’t bring it up anymore—to that person or anyone else, & we stop trying to make them pay. Both are wrong!

Does mean we stop dwelling on what was done to us. We may not be able to forget what happened and our mind may go there once in a while, but forgiveness does mean we don’t dwell on it anymore. It is taking the arrows out of our gut instead of continuing to twist them around inside of us. Whereas before we may have nurtured that hurt to keep it active & alive. But now we refused to do that. That may take some prayer to keep releasing it to God, but we don’t let our mind stay there.

Does mean treat them with love, even if we don’t feel it. Feelings are important, but they are not what we base our decisions on. We forgive because it is the right and healthy thing to do, and then we treat the person with love. When God forgives us, he doesn’t wait to see how it’s going to go before he starts to bless us again.

It does mean we are opening a door for reconciliation. That’s one of the purposes. God’s people are supposed to be reconciled to each other. We can’t say ok I forgive you but I never want to see you again. Doesn’t mean you have to be the best of friends, but it does mean you tear down the walls. And remember, reconciliation takes two people—they have to be open to it as well.

Does mean we’ll have to take responsibility for our own happiness & we’ll have to change. As long as we’re resentful we give ourselves an excuse not to do the hard work of looking at ourselves and changing our own lives. Perhaps that’s another reason why God tells us to forgive.

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Posted by on February 12, 2018 in Encouragement


How to Forgive

(Mark 11:25 NIV)  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.””

In 1944 Karl on his death bed…rehearsed his story and asked hospital attendants to find him a Jew…wanted to confess his deeds. Had been part of a group who had put 300 Jews in a building, set it on fire, and shot any who tried to run out to escape. “Can you forgive me, so I can die in peace?” Simon walked out with no response….the vast majority said Wiesenthal did the right thing. What would you do? And what would Jesus do?

power of forgivenessJesus teaches us to forgive: (Mark 11:25 NIV)  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.””

To forgive means to let go of an offense, drop the case, drop the attempts at revenge, let go of the hurt feelings, stop dwelling on it, not to bring it up again.

Even though it can be difficult, we’ve learned that we need to forgive not only because Jesus tells us to, which should be enough, but also because our salvation depends on our willingness to forgive others, because our health is at stake (spi, emot, phy), and because it is essential to having relationships. Today we want to talk about HOW to forgive. I also want to let you know that at the end of the message today, I’m going to give you an opportunity to forgive someone you need to forgive, if you are ready to do so. May or may not be. Write their name on a card, bring it to the back and give it to me. I won’t look at the names, but you can use initials or code if you prefer. And you may not be ready yet….

I want to begin by giving something of a formula to follow. Not to make forgiveness simpler than it really is but just to give us something we can remember. Then we’ll talk about some of the complexities afterward.

Face it, feel it, forgive it.

This suggests that it may take some time, and that may rub you wrong. You may feel like we ought to just do it. But you know, quite a few of the other things Jesus taught take some time too—like love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, & strength (can get started, but ALL takes a while), confess your sins to one another (be great if we just did, but it usually takes some time for us to get to that point).  Most commands are a process…they don’t immediately receive complete obedience.

What’s more, it’s important to remember what Jesus said, that, that we must forgive each other from our hearts (Matt. 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). He’s not looking for us to just say, “Ok, I forgive you,” but to forgive genuinely, from our hearts. That means we are going to have to give some attention to our hearts.

Some of us are too quick to forgive—we don’t really face what was done to us or let ourselves feel the pain of what was done. Essentially, we’re in denial. There’s a fine line between denial & forgiveness—we could easily mistake one for the other. Others of us are too slow to forgive—we know full well what was done and we hold on to the pain and wallow in it. I think the approach of face it, feel it, and forgive it gives a good balance. It keeps us from “forgiving” quickly and flippantly and also keeps us from postponing forgiveness indefinitely.

One more thing, Jesus did something like this in Gethsemane. I’m not saying he was trying to create a formula, because I don’t believe that. But before he spoke the words of forgiveness on the cross, he faced the reality and felt the pain of what was about to happen.

Face it

We need to acknowledge what was done to us. Again, some of us have no problem with this (& don’t really even need to listen to this part). But others of us do need to hear it because we have a tendency to make excuses for other people or to place all the blame on ourselves, neither of which is healthy. Of course, if we have done wrong too, we need to acknowledge that, confess it to God and to someone else, and repent of what we did.

Also, forbearance is a good thing. I sure don’t want to encourage us to be sensitive and take offense more easily. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11 NIV)  “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”).

So, search your heart, pray that God will help you see things clearly. And if you think someone has in fact done you wrong, acknowledge that to yourself.

Feel it

This is profound: if you’ve been hurt, it hurts! For some reason, some of us don’t like to admit we have been hurt. At last year’s Super Bowl, Pepsi had the “I’m good” commercial where various men get whacked with a golf club, a piece of wood, an electrical charge and other things, & they always spring up and say “I’m good.” For some reason a lot of us don’t want to show it when someone’s words or actions hurt us.

But they do hurt and we need to take our hurts to God. We shouldn’t stuff it, not should we cover up the wound with alcohol, food, shopping, sex, workaholic, perfectionism or anything else. We wouldn’t leave a physical wound untreated, so why would we leave a heart wound untreated? We do that by making GOD our refuge and pouring out our hearts to God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God knows we will get hurt, but he didn’t intend for us to stay hurt. He is the God of all comfort and he is able to comfort us.

(2 Cor 1:3-5 NIV)  ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. {5} For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Those in the ancient world were far better mourners than we are.”

Ideally, we treat each of our wounds soon after they happen. If not, we will be wounded and less capable of handling new wounds. If you wound a wounded person, it really hurts. “Don’t slap someone on the back with sunburn.” And it makes it harder for them to sort through things because the new hurt gets mixed in with the old hurts and it can be hard to tell them apart or to know for sure where the pain is coming from.

We often find some who say, “Well, just get over it.” Others: “you have a right to be angry.” Both those responses reveal an unequipped healer.

If the hurt doesn’t go away in due time, we may need to talk to a Christian therapist. Perhaps to a mature, wise, godly friend or shepherd, but we need to be careful about who we talk to or we may get worse instead of better, we may get our hurts and anger all stirred up again. Frankly I’m not sure very many of us are equipped to help others with matters like that. Be careful.

Once we have felt the pain and poured it out to God, we need to move on to the next step, even if we have to keep taking our pain to God longer.

Forgive it

We may not feel like doing it, but followers of Jesus determine their actions by faith and obedience, not by feelings. Feelings have an important place in our lives, but it is NOT to be the command center for our responses, words, and actions.

Feelings are not our command center: Jesus has that place in our life! Don’t allow your feelings to reign! Act on the will..act on a decision.

Ultimately forgiving some is a choice. It is an act of the will. And we ARE able to do it. Jesus wouldn’t have told us to do it if it were impossible to do. Like a lot of other things, we may have to learn to do it by doing it.

It may be good to tell the person you are forgiving them or maybe not. The circumstances in which we get wronged are vastly different and some could entail some danger of various kinds. So we’ll need to be discerning or get some wise counsel about whether to talk to them. I will say that if you do tell them, make sure you don’t do it in a condescending way. Sometimes it might be appropriate to write the person a letter instead of talking to them in person. Sometimes it might be best not to say anything to them but just to tell a trusted Christian friend.

We need to make forgiveness tangible: TODAY: write on a card. If others see you, that’s ok, know that you are setting a good example. Maybe you will write it down and then burn it…maybe you should consider mailing it. (Shredder provided at the foot of the cross).

Includes treating them as forgiven. May need some boundaries, especially if there was abuse or crime or if there is physical, spiritual, or emotional danger. Again, we need to make sure we don’t use boundaries as a way of hiding a refusal to forgive.

In most cases we also need to treat them with true love, be open to reconciliation and be open to slowly rebuild some trust. Again, there may be certain cases where we don’t, but remember it is easy to deceive ourselves. So again, seek wise, spiritual counsel. And know that God really does want his people to be reconciled. He doesn’t want the church to have people in it who won’t speak to each other or who avoid each other. He said the world would recognize us as his people by our love, and if there is something between people the tension will be obvious.

(Mat 5:23-24 NIV)  “”Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Mention other matters that may help:

To err is human. To blame it on the other guy is even more human. That’s not right, is it? But that is usually what we seek to do. Rather, To err is human, to forgive is divine. We need God’s help. If it seems really hard, that’s because humanly it is next to impossible. Only with God’s power and help can enough love be produced in our hearts to enable us to forgive.

Corrie ten Boom, a believer, was asked late in her life to speak to a large crowd. She saw one there who was one of the cruelest guards in the concentration camp, where she had been forced into…had lost a sister there. He approached her after the talk: “Frauline, I am a Christian and I have asked God to forgive me for the things I did there. I am asking you, will you forgive me.?” She struggled with an answer and said to herself, “Jesus, all I can do it raise my hand…you will have to help me do the rest.”  She raised her hand and was able to take the guard’s hand: “I fully forgive you, brother.” (Inrig, p 128).

Remember, forgiveness must be from the heart—so we must let God work on us.  One specific way of doing that is to meditate on how much God has forgiven you

(Luke 7:47 NIV)  “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.””).

Let his forgiveness heal & transform you, remember in order to be forgiven, we must forgive. That indicates the 2 are related. If we’re having trouble with the effect, spend time with the cause.

(2 Pet 1:3-9 NIV)  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {4} Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. {5} For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; {6} and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; {7} and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. {8} For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. {9} But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

It may help to try to understand the other person

(Psa 103:8-14 NIV)  “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. {9} He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; {10} he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. {11} For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; {12} as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. {13} As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; {14} for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”).


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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Encouragement


Six Things To Remember When We Are Treated Unfairly

How do you react when someone treats you unfairly? Let’s say someone double crosses you or cheats you. Maybe someone lies about you and your reputation is damaged. Perhaps your boss chews you out for something you know you didn’t do or singles you out because he doesn’t like what you stand for. What is your typical response? Do you…


  • Retreat into a depression?
  • Withdraw from human interaction?
  • Look for a way to get even?
  • Vow that you’ll never do anything nice for anyone again?
  • Cheat the next guy down the line because you conclude that it’s a dog-eat-dog world?
  • Become so cynical about the world that you no longer enjoy life?

These responses are all too common. As Christians, we are called by God to be different from the world and this is one area where that difference can really show.


I suppose some of you might think it is redundant for me to say that, but it never ceases to amaze me that so many Christians get so upset when things don’t come out even.

Whoever said that this life was fair, anyway? I’m not aware of any Bible verse that teaches such a thing. Of course, God will ultimately even things out at the judgment – a point the Bible makes often – but in the here-and-now there are no guarantees. In fact, in a fallen world like ours, with mankind corrupted by a sinful nature and God allowing freedom of choice, it only follows that things are not going to be fair all the time.

Yet, it bugs us, doesn’t it? It bugs me! The bad guy sometimes wins. The criminal gets off Scot-free. The ladder climber who steps on everyone in his path gets the penthouse. The politician lies and gets away with it because the economy is good.

I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t do whatever we can when we can to make things right. I’m simply saying that sometimes making things even is beyond what we can do. At that point, so that we don’t go insane at the unbalanced nature of it all, we need to remember that we live in a fallen world and until God redeems this place from the curse and removes sin, it’s not always going to be fair.

I’m not recommending defeatism or fatalism here. I’m simply trying to be realistic. Don’t set your expectations too high. In this life, no matter how you live or what you do, life isn’t always going to be fair.


Things are going to happen in this life that we are powerless to change. We usually cannot rearrange someone else’s behavior toward us, nor can we undo the moments in which someone has hurt us. Maybe it can be prevented next time, but once it has happened, it has happened. There is no backing up.

If we keep reliving the unhappy moment and devote endless hours to appealing the verdict of a wrongdoing in our minds, we will be left spent and miserable. Though it is sometimes hard to see, time passed in the courtroom of our mind trying the case over and over is really time wasted. Even though we’re sure the verdict is guilty, there is usually no way to bring about justice in this life without becoming guilty ourselves. Our best (and sometimes only) recourse is to ask the Lord to change our inner life – to use this evil to bring about good in us.

We’ve seen that Joseph knew this truth. For all that was done to him by his brothers, he could have died a bitter and unhappy man. He didn’t do that though. At some point along the way he decided he would concentrate his energies on being the best person that he could be for God in whatever circumstance he found himself. Over the process of a lifetime, because of this attitude, God could take him from a pit to a palace. One has to wonder how different it might have been had Joseph chosen to spend endless hours licking his wounds and rehearsing his hurts. After 23 years of living with this choice of betterness rather than bitterness, as his brothers stood before him in a position where revenge could have been a snap-of-the-fingers away, his verdict was this: “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

Suppose you hold a glass of water as you walk towards me. I carelessly (or deliberately) bump into you. Whatever you have in the glass will probably spill out.

That is the way our lives are. When we are bumped, whatever is inside comes out. For most of us, an injustice done to us personally is a very jarring bump. Sadly, it is disgraceful sometimes the things that spill out.

God wants the things inside the glass cleaned up. From time to time He will allow us to be bumped, sometimes quite forcefully and unjustly, to reveal what is there. A life where the work of the Holy Spirit has been neglected will reveal a cup full of hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissention, faction, and envy. God wants all of that to change. What happens in you is far more important than what happens to you.


There is more happening when an injustice is done to us than just the unpleasantness of the moment. God is watching to see what we will do and He sees it all, from beginning to end. As the Scripture clearly reveals, He is testing us. There are so many verses on this subject that I hesitate to pick just one, however, there is a passage that I have found quite helpful at such times. Maybe it can help you.

(1 Pet. 2:19-20) says, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

God is watching to see how we handle unjust suffering.  So what does God want us to do when we suffer unjustly? These verses tell us that it finds favor with God if we “bear up under the pain of unjust suffering.” When we suffer, lets make God proud by enduring the pain and handling it properly.


All of us need to set some standards for ourselves. We need to draw the line in the sand and say, “Beyond this point I will not go – not for comfort – not for security – not for revenge – not for anything!

 Paul wrote to the Ephesians “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Eph. 4:31).

 You see there is no part of “all” that allows for an exception. God wants all the bitterness out of you and me.


A doctor told a man that he had rabies. Upon hearing the diagnosis, he took out a piece of paper and started writing on it. The doctor thought, “Oh, he must be making up his will,” so he asked, “What are you doing, making up your will?” The man said, “No, I’m just writing down every person I’m going to bite.”

 Sadly, that is how some folks handle injustice. They are so bitter that they bite everyone else around them. We must never bow to bitterness.


God has spelled out what our behavior is to be in the kind of situation we’re discussing in many places in Scripture. I’ll mention just a few:

 Matthew   5:44 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…”

 Luke   6:27-28 says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…”

Romans   12:20 says, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink..”


It isn’t particularly difficult to figure out what these verses say we must do. The difficult part is our feelings, isn’t it? Why is it so hard…

  • To get on our knees and pray for that person whose carelessness or neglect caused us so much pain?
  • To go down to the store and buy a gift and send it to that person whom we know must hate us?
  • To say something that blesses them rather than cursing them under our breath?

The answer is simple. Every feeling in our bodies is screaming that it isn’t right!

Ah! We’ve come to an important crossroad in this matter. We’ve come to the place where we learn whether we’re serious about our faith or not. The true Christian will strive to do what is right even if his/her feelings aren’t in favor of it.

Many of us have yet to learn this very important part of our faith. Doing the right thing isn’t always the thing that makes us feel good at the moment.

Many of the things God has called us to do require us to go against our feelings for the moment. “Love your enemies?” Who feels like doing that?

But, you see the Christian knows that actions lead, feelings follow. Want to see an example?

 John   3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son….”

 God loved us so much that He gave His Son. How do you suppose that made God feel? Was He jumping for joy when His Son hung suffering on the cross? What do you think would have happened had God acted on His feelings that day rather than His loving commitment to offer a way for the world to be saved?

The right thing isn’t always the thing that feels good at the moment. Actions lead, feelings follow. Where did the good feelings come in then, when Jesus died on the cross? They came later, after the sacrifice had been made and people were coming to God because of what Jesus did!

Hebrews   12:2 says exactly that: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

 The joy followed the cross. It didn’t come prior or during. Likewise, the good feelings that result from our doing right usually come after the act, not before. If we wait around in the beginning, hoping to get our feelings to go along with our actions, we’ll seldom do what is right.

How about it?  Are you returning good for evil? Are you turning the other cheek when it is appropriate? Are you walking the second mile? Are you praying for that person who has hurt you so? Are you, like God, allowing whatever blessings you have in your life to fall on the just and the unjust, or are you selective, based on the records you’ve kept of wrongs done against you? Are you blessing rather than cursing? (The word “bless” in this case means literally, “to speak well of.”)

 “But I don’t feel like it!” Welcome to the world of discipleship. It’s that way for all of us.


In (Matthew 18), Jesus tells the story of a man who owed a king ten million dollars. There was no way he could pay his debt and in that day, there was no bankruptcy – only debtor’s prison or slavery. As he was about to be thrown into prison, he begged the King to give him another chance and more time to pay. The King listened to his pleading and felt mercy for him. He didn’t just give him more time to pay. He completely forgave the debt. The man walked away free.

You probably know the rest of the story. As soon as he got home he found someone who owed him a few hundred dollars. The man didn’t have the money, so this man who had just been forgiven a debt of millions of dollars had his own debtor thrown into prison. After all, it’s only just. “It’s what the man had coming for what he did to me. He should learn to pay his debts on time! It’s his fault. Fair is fair, right?”

Then the King got word of the whole thing. He was angry and resummoned the man he had forgiven just a short time before. To make the long story short, he called the unforgiving man “wicked” and reinstated his millions of dollars of debt. The man went to prison until he could pay it off – which, of course, was never. He went to prison for the rest of his life.

Then Jesus said, “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

 My friends, no matter whom might wrong us, we are still the bigger debtor. We always will be. God has forgiven a huge debt that we could never pay on our own. Because of that, is it really that much for God to ask us to overlook some of these hurts we experience here? I think not.

 Are you one who feels you must even the score here? Then expect God to even the score on you when you get to judgment.


A certain tenant farmer had worked hard for many years to improve the production of the land he leased. Then something happened that caused him to become very bitter. When it was time to renew his lease, the owner told him he was going to sell the farm to his son who was getting married. The tenant made several generous offers to buy it himself, hoping the man’s decision would be reversed, but his pleading got nowhere.

As the day drew near for the farmer to vacate his home, his weeks of angry brooding finally got the best of him. He gathered seeds from some of the most pesky and noxious weeds he could find. Then he spent many hours scattering them on the clean, fertile soil of the farm, along with a lot of trash and rocks he had collected.

To his dismay, the very next morning the owner informed him that plans for his son’s wedding had fallen through, and therefore he would be happy to renew the lease. He couldn’t understand why the farmer exclaimed in agonizing tones, “What a fool I’ve been!”

 Try as we might to even up the score when we’re treated unfairly, the result for us will be the same as it was for that tenant farmer. At the end, we’ll exclaim, “What a fool I’ve been!”

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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Encouragement


Getting to know you – and growing to understand each other

When it comes to personality profiles, most have heard of Myers-Briggs, Galen’s four temperaments, DiSC assessment, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. One of the lesser known profiles, but just as insightful, was developed by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent.

They base their personalities around animal characteristics. Not only are these entertaining but they are very easy for children to grasp as well. My wife and I often find ourselves saying, “that person sure is a ‘beaver,’” or “you’re such a ‘lion-golden retriever.’”

While these personality types are certainly broad categories, I find them very easy to remember and communicate. This is extremely beneficial when dealing with people and/or employees. Knowing their temperaments can make the work environment, meetings, and projects run much smoother.

Understanding the Animal Temperaments

Many of you will leave this discovery process feeling good about yourself, perhaps better than ever before. You’ll sense who you are, how you fit into a group, and why you tend to be attracted to your mate. If you’re single, this session will show you the kind of person you will be attracted to.

If you’re a parent, this discovery process will explain why your kids do what they do, why one of them is messy or another is bossy. This will help you parent the children individually, instead of lumping them into a generic group. Each child should know their personality strengths, even when they’re young. It’s never too soon to give a personality inventory to your children, because personality traits show up in newborn babies, indicating some character qualities are formed before birth – well before environmental or cultural conditioning takes over. Our personality type can last our entire life. The personality inventory you take is not like a test you fail or pass. It’s more like a fingerprint that shows your tendencies. Tendencies can change, unlike fingerprints. Mine have, yours will.

Discovering your personality strengths and tendencies in relationships will show you what irritates your mate, your parents or your friends. When you see on this evaluation where you have too much of one thing, that is usually what drives your mate nuts.

By making a few adjustments, and by allowing for differences, you will reduce personality conflicts. That’s what happened in my home. Years ago, before the kids married. we all became familiar with our personality strengths and tendencies using this same test and expanding on it. That brought a measure of harmony and tolerance into our home that we didn’t expect.

L is for Lion

Look at the inventory you took and scored yourself in. Those who scored the highest in the L category are our lions or leaders. Their leadership inspires a following. Their many accomplishments inspire awe. In the military, the Lions are the Schwartzkopfs, the Pattons, and other generals. In business, Lions are either the president of their company, or they think they’re the president. Lion-types are take-charge, visionary, and sometimes intimidating people.

Too much of this quality can create a problem in the home or in personal relationships. People in authority who like to take charge can become pushy and overbearing. They can step in front of people or over people – all in order to get things done. Their motto seems to be “We have to do it now — immediately!” Lions don’t want to waste any time. That can be real irritating and offensive to a mate, to a child, or to a friend.

Lion can cause major problems in a marriage. Too much Lion can cause a problem in parent-child relationships, too. A friend of mine had a six-year-old Lion child who once would not let her finish taking a shower. He kept banging on the bathroom door saying, “Mom, I want my bike out of the garage.” She said, “Honey, I’m taking a shower. I’m not dried off completely yet. I’ll be out in a minute.”  “No, I want it now,” the Lion said, as he kept banging away on the door.

The Lion got his way. She gave in, put on her housecoat, not bothering to actually strap it properly, and out to the garage she went. This woman has the type of personality that readily gives in to something like that. Sure enough, when she tugged at the garage door, which she forgot was broken, the door went up with a whoosh. The spring caught her housecoat, and that, too, went up with a whoosh. You can bet she was a sight to behold, as she faced the street trying to hold onto her upraised housecoat. Little Lion children can sure be frustrating!

You know what Lions need when they’re too stressed out? They often need to express their anger. That relaxes them. Time alone also relaxes them. So if you’re married to a Lion, you might want to have some rules on how and when they can express their anger.

O is for Otter

Those of you who scored highest in the 0 category are the Otters. You are a fun-loving type, always looking for a party to happen. Otters can be entertainers, enthusiastic motivators, those who know people who know people who know people.

They know everybody and bring so much fun into our lives and into our world.

(Even though you may have scored the highest on this, you may still have some of another personality type. You may score close on two categories. Usually we are highest in just one or two and Iowan two others.)

As fun-loving as Otters are, there’s a problem with Otters. Otters may be a party-waiting-to-happen, but after saying, “Party? – sure, I’ll be there!” we may not in fact get there. Very likely, Otters will forget to bring the popcorn or whatever else they promised to bring. Why? Because we’re at some other party.

Another problem with Otters is that we can be dangerous and risk-takers. Not only are Otters a bit foolish in the risks we take, we are very verbal, which can also get us in trouble. Another problem with expressive Otters is that our friendships tend to be numerous but not very deep. We tend to raise expectations and hurt somebody’s feelings without meaning to. We’re enthusiastic and excited about someone new, but when we leave the room, we meet somebody else and we’re excited about meeting that person.

Otters goof off too much. Otters love to play practical jokes. The creativity of Otters can become a bit of a nuisance. When I go to a restaurant, I treat menus as mere suggestions, not orders. So I have fun creating my own, ”I’d like to get #5 and #4 in combo, with a little #3 on the side.” It drives my wife nuts because she likes to order #5, wondering why I try to confuse everybody. To an Otter, it’s not as much fun just ordering a plain #5. Otters are very optimistic people. We think anything is possible, and we can do anything.

G is for Golden Retriever

Now, thirdly, we get to that of the Golden Retriever – one that all of you with a high score in the G category can identify with. Golden Retrievers are among the most sensitive people on earth. Stamped on their forehead is the guarantee: “1 won’t hurt you; 1 won’t say mean things to you.” They avoid confrontation, enjoy routine, value loyalty. If you marry one, he or she won’t leave you. Golden ~ Retrievers are the warm, relational, nurturing ones. They feel deeply and will care enough to buy the appropriate card.

Picture a Golden Retriever: the dog that is so loving, follows you with kind, puppy-dog eyes, and cuddles with you. That’s fine character to have in a dog, but too much of this trait in people can be a problem. People who are overly sensitive can be easily hurt. The loyal Golden Retriever can become stubborn in refusing to let go of hurts or grief. Sometimes not even even death can budge a Golden Retriever. Case in pain

Because they’re so loyal and do not like change, Golden Retrievers can take a month to do something spontaneous.  Golden Retrievers can feel the hurts of others so deeply.

Because Golden Retrievers bring every concern home with them, including the cares of colleagues and schoolmates, it’s as if they are the ones entering into the boxing arena. This preoccupation, guilt and worry can weaken a relationship for as long as Golden Retrievers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

B is for Beaver

Our fourth group of people are those who scored high in the B category, whom we call Beavers. These are the people who enjoy not only writing instruction manuals, but reading those manuals. They value accuracy, getting things straight, and doing things right. Beavers make good health and safety inspectors, quality controllers, bankers, and accountants. They like quality, not junk. To the extent that we have nice things in the world, we have some Beaver to thank.

Too much Beaver, as with excess in any personality type, can make others feel uncomfortable. They are so serious, they have little tolerance for those who mess up. When you’re with them, you feel like being very careful, because you don’t want to be in trouble with them.

Guess who takes the longest time taking this Personality Strengths Survey? Beavers. Of all the personalities, the ones with the most stomach trouble are the Beavers, because they want their choices to be right. They are the hardest on themselves. You may think that Beavers only harp on your mistakes, but often they are pointing out mistakes in themselves.

Beavers are keenly alert to their own weaknesses and shortcomings. They know whenever they fail to measure up to personal or professional standards.

A person with a strong Beaver trait has his socks all color coordinated and rolled up in the sock drawer, his closet is all neatly arranged, the shoes are all in a row. Beavers have been known to iron their underwear and even fold their dirty clothes. The Otters are lucky if they get clothes in the general area where they have to go. Beavers will make their beds every day, not only at home, but also on the road when staying at a motel with maid service. One Beaver I know even folds the towels in the motel bathroom to make it look like the room has never been used. Do you think this Otter would ever make a bed in a motel, or put the towels back up so no one could tell?

Beavers can be late for meetings or late for dinner. That’s because they must do things right, which means finishing what they started. When they start something Beavers will not quit until they finish, even if that means staying up all night or missing out on some other fun. Yet they may become irritated at other members of the family for not helping them. Beavers, for all the tidy work they do, don’t like to do chores unless they can do them just right.

We use our strengths and blend our differences to love others

That’s a brief look at the Lion, the Otter, the Golden Retriever, and the Beaver. We have different combinations of each personality type within ourselves and within our marriages. My wife has a lot of Beaver and Golden Retriever. It’s very normal for Golden Retrievers to have some Beaver in them. And it’s very normal for a Lion and an Otter to marry a Golden Retriever or Beaver combination.

The couple with the most marriage problems, if they don’t understand each other, is the Lion and the Golden Retriever. The reason they are attracted to each other is because the Lion likes to control and express himself. A husband-Lion finally has in the Golden Retriever-mate someone who will listen, saying to him, “Aye, aye, Sir.” Likewise, the wife-Lion finally has in the Golden Retriever-mate someone to go along, saying to her, “Yes, Ma’am.”

If a particular character trait of yours is too extreme, to the point that it irritates your mate or your children, you can decide to push that trait down and push other traits up. Of course, being Christians causes us to work hard at understanding others and working to get along!

Personality Types

Here is a description of the four personality types based on Gary Smalley’s writings:

Lion- This personality likes to lead.  The lion is good at making decisions and is very goal-oriented.  They enjoy challenges, difficult assignments, and opportunity for advancement. Because lions are thinking of the goal, they can step on people to reach it. Lions can be very aggressive and competitive. Lions must learn not to be too bossy or to take charge in other’s affairs.
Strength: Goal-oriented, strong, direct
Weakness: Argumentative, too dictatorial
Limitation: Doesn’t understand that directness can hurt others, hard time expressing grace

Otter- Otters are very social creature. Otter personalities love people. They enjoys being popular and influencing and motivating others. Otter can sometimes be hurt when people do not like them.  Otter personalities usually have lots of friends, but not deep relationships. They love to goof-off.  (They are notorious for messy rooms.)  Otters like to hurry and finish jobs. (Jobs are not often done well.)
Strength: People person, open, positive
Weakness: Talks too much, too permissive
Limitation: Remembering past commitments, follow through with discipline

Golden Retriever- Good at making friends.  Very loyal.  Retriever personalities do not like big changes.  They look for security. Can be very sensitive.  Very caring. Has deep relationships, but usually only a couple of close friends.  Wants to be loved by everyone. Looks for appreciation. Works best in a limited situation with a steady work pattern.
Strength: Accommodating, calm, affirming
Weakness: Indecisive, indifferent, unable to express emotional, too soft on other people
Limitation: Seeing the need to be more assertive, holding others accountable

Beaver- Organized.  Beavers think that there is a right way to do everything and they want to do it exact that way.  Beaver personalities are very creative.  The y desire to solve everything.  Desire to take their time and do it right. Beavers do not like sudden changes. They need reassurance.
Strength: High standards, order, respect
Weakness: Unrealistic expectations of self & others, too perfect.
Limitation: Seeing the optimistic side of things, expressing flexibility

Communicating Amongst The Animal Temperaments

Listed below are some working ideas to help you better understand your team mates and/or colleagues and become ‘lord of the jungle’:

Lions (D)

Wants You to Be: efficient and to the point

Provide Them With: options, information on what it does and by when, freedom to act, immediate action 

General Strategies: be efficient and competent, support their goals and objectives, if you disagree – argue facts and not personal feelings, be precise, time disciplined, well organized, focus on the results or bottom-line, do not waste their time, let them make the decision

Otters (I)

Wants You to Be: stimulating and interesting

Provide Them With: quality, information on how it will enhance their status, increased talent, originality, uniqueness

 General Strategies: be interested in them, support their dreams, feelings and opinions, be sociable, do not hurry the discussion – give them a chance to verbalize, try not to argue, don’t deal with details – put it all in writing, do not be shy, agree on the specifics of any arrangement

Golden Retrievers (S)

Wants You to Be: cooperative and pleasant

 Provide Them With: assurances, information on how it will affect their circumstances, popular ideas, risk sharing, reliability, assistance in presenting to others

 General Strategies: be non-threatening and sincere, show personal interest and support their feelings, don’t push, move along in a slow manner, show that you are listening, be easy-going, assure them that you stand behind any decisions

Beavers (C)

Wants You to Be: accurate and precise

 Provide Them With: evidence, information on how they can logically justify, systematic plans, progress reviews

 General Strategies: be thorough and well planned, support their thoughtful approach, demonstrate through action rather than words, be exact, organized, and prepared, give them time to verify your words, don’t rush decision making, avoid gimmicks, provide evidence that what you say is true and accurate

Discover Your Personality

Here is a small test to take to find out what your personality is.

Instructions: In each box chose the words that best describe your personality.  Double the number of words you chose and record that number.



Likes authority
Enjoys challenges
Problem solver
Goal driven
Strong willed
Self reliant
Takes charge
Action oriented
Enjoys instructions

“Let’s   do it now!”
Double the number chosen:___

“How   was it done in the past?”
Double the number chosen:___


Golden   Retriever

Mixes easily
Creative-new ideas
Infectious laughter
Takes Risks
Very verbal
Enjoys popularity
Likes variety
Enjoys change
Group oriented
Sensitive feelings
Avoids confrontations
Enjoys routine
Warm and relational
Good listener
Even keeled
Gives in
Dislikes change
Dry humor
Peace maker

“Trust   me! It’ll work out!”
Double the number chosen:___

“Let’s   keep things the way they are.”
Double the number chosen:___

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Posted by on January 25, 2018 in Encouragement

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