Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Temptation, A Spiritual Poison Ivy

posted by Linda Mintle

I pulled a weed the other day. It looked harmless but turned out to be poison ivy. The rash has now spread all over my arms and face. I itch and am in pain and have had to resort to a steroid to get the swelling down. Just a few seconds of touching something harmful has led to weeks of pain and suffering. There was a moment when I looked at the poison ivy and thought, this might be poisonous (Leaves of three, let it be!), but in my impulsivity, I threw caution to the wind and picked it up.

How often do we do this in life and then pay a price later?

We must be aware of those things that appear to be harmless, but we know have a toxic touch. Dabbling in pornography or a flirtatious relationship falls into this category.  Both may seem harmless when you first look or engage, but end in serious negative consequences.

Scripture tells us to flee from temptation, not pick it up and engage in it. Do we do this? Do we turn off that movie that is causing us to lust? Do we stop the advances of our office mate, knowing we are playing with fire? Do we go to a party and drink too much and later regret our actions? Temptation is like the beautiful ivy plant. It looks healthy and harmless but is toxic when touched.

Think about the poison ivy in your life. Be intentional when it comes to fleeing temptation. The suffering you avoid will be worth it.

 

Matthew 26:41- Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

 

James 4:7- Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Corinthians 10:13- No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

Can You Change Your Mom?

posted by Linda Mintle

A willingness to change helps in every relationship. We aren’t perfect and all bring some emotional baggage to our relationships. Perhaps you and your mother are locked in a situation now where a change is needed, but it seems too difficult to even think about.

I’ve had a number of women say to me. “My mother is the one who should change. After all she is the mother and supposed to be more mature. I’ll change when she changes.”

My answer to this comment is, “Maybe your mother isn’t in a position to change right now, or maybe she just refuses to change at all. Since only children fight about who should go first, are you ready to be a grown-up and start working on your relationship. You make changes and you’ll see a relationship change .

I like to borrow author Harriet Lerner’s visual picture of relationships. Mother-daughter relationships can be thought of like a dance. You take a step, then she does and a familiar dance emerges. Get that picture in your mind. If you make a change in the familiar dance, it changes the dance. That idea should give you hope. You are not a victim if your mother won’t change because any change you make in the relationship, will change the relationship. Expect resistance when you change because we all like to do things the same old way–it’s comfortable and what we know. Change is uncomfortable but possible.

If you want to begin making changes in your mother-daughter relationship, don’t keep hoping your mom will change. Instead, you concentrate on your step in the mother-daughter dance. Make the necessary changes. Work on your reactions to her and I promise, change will take place.

A Marital Lesson from Hosea

posted by Linda Mintle

As a marital therapist for the past 30 years, I have seen too many couples divorce over fixable problems. When I talk about fixable problems I am referring to couples who stop liking each other, grow apart and refuse to work on their marriages. Today, Christian couples have allowed their unhappiness to become an acceptable reason for divorce.

I can’t deny the growing numbers of people dissatisfied with their relationships and even hostile towards their once chosen mates. Relationship pain is real and hurts. However, an escape plan is not always the answer. Couple unhappiness can be remedied. But, it takes work, counseling and a return to the covenant vows for people divorcing over fixable issues.

The Bible clearly establishes God in covenant with His people. He then uses this covenant as a model for marriage. Both are defined as an unbreakable promise. The Bible is full of difficult covenant relationships in need of reconciliation. In fact, the most unusual is Hosea and Gomer. God instructs His prophet, Hosea to marry Gomer, “a wife of harlotry” (Hosea 1:2). During this period in history, God is disgusted with His people for their unfaithfulness and idolatry. The marriage of Gomer and Hosea, a symbolic and real act, deals with broken covenant and God’s desire to restore.  Hosea endures the emotional pain of spouse betrayal, works through the restoration process and redeems the woman who has wronged him.

More couples could learn from the Hosea story. Sin is acknowledged, repentance happens, emotional pain is embraced and the couple eventually transformed. The power of God’s redemption is once again revealed.

One application of this powerful story is that healing is possible even when couples have a “biblical out.” Restoration and reconciliation are repeated biblical themes. Through out history God goes to extreme measures to woo his chosen and win back their hearts.

Sadly God’s covenant, whether in relationship with Him or marriage, is constantly challenged by our idolatry, adultery and rejection. We easily complain, feel abandoned when prayer isn’t immediately answered and become distracted by things that pull us away from intimacy. Then, like in our marriages, we stare into space, feeling numb and wonder, “What happened? I don’t feel intimate or connected.” Emotional distance ensues, a predictor of relationship breakup.

So could we learn something from the marriage of Hosea and Gomer, especially when marital problems are fixable? Think about it, you serve a God who wants to restore you to covenant with Him when you wander away. Maybe we need to be more restoring of our marital covenants as well.

 

10 Guidelines to Avoid Desk Rage

posted by Linda Mintle

The work environment is now a place of unleashed rage for too many Americans. Yelling and verbal abuse can be heard down the hallways of various companies and industries. The response to that behavior is something the media has dubbed, “desk rage”. That’s right, road rage,  air rage…now desk rage.

From a psychological perspective, desk rage is rudeness, hostility, physical violence and aggression found in the workplace. A National Crime Victimization Survey (2000) found that Americans experienced approximately 2 million threats of violence and assaults at their workplace. Of that number, 1.5. million were simple assaults. And another study out of the University of North Carolina documented that at least half of the workers interviewed worried about rude and hostile behavior directed at them. This worry affected their work-related productiveness as well. Overall, revenue related to lost productivity, increased security, insurance related payment, and other expenses is estimated to cost employers between 6.4  and 36 billion dollars.  And these are old statistics!

What’s going on that so many Americans are going postal?

Desk rage is triggered by stress–boredom, anxiety, lack of control, demands of the job, overcrowding, noise, etc. And while employers try to deal with the problem by finding solutions that decrease stress, such as more than flexible work hours or improved benefits, more is needed.  People have to take personal responsibility and manager their anger and stress. Here are ten tips taken from my Breaking Free from Stress booklet:

  1. Be ready and accepting of change. Change is inevitable in today’s work environment. Adjust your expectations. Be ready for it instead of resisting it. Then roll with it.
  2. Don’t panic if you are laid off. With corporate downsizing, global market changes, outsourcing, etc. people lose their jobs even when they do well at their jobs. God has to be your ultimate source of provision. Trust God to help you deal with the loss and meet your needs.
  3. Get a quality education and explore fields that are growing such as technology and health care. Skill development helps make you more marketable. Stay current.
  4. Be a good steward of your finances. Don’t spend beyond your means or rack of credit card debt. Put money away for a difficult time. Money problems are stressful.
  5. Maximize your work time. Be clear on work expectations so you know how you will be evaluated. Minimize distractions and meet the goals or renegotiate goals.
  6. Have integrity on the job. Line up your behavior according to biblical directives. Guidelines for dealing with anger are in the Bible.  Read what the Bible has to say and apply these guidelines to your work situations.
  7. Know what you can’t change and accept it. 
  8. Be balanced. Have a life after work that involves relaxation, family, friends and a vibrant spiritual walk.
  9. Keep your humor. It relieves stress.
  10. Don’t easily take offense and offer forgiveness even when it isn’t requested.

 

If  you need additional help, I suggest you pick up a copy of Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness. Stress will never disappear but our reaction to it must be appropriate. Wouldn’t it be great if our stressed out co-workers came to us and said, “Hey, you are in the middle of all this craziness too. How do you manage it?” What an opportunity to talk about the peace of God, the fruit of the spirit and forgiveness.

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