He is my brother…
and he was adopted.
Most of the time I forget that. We laugh at many of the same things. We are both losing our hair. We both make fun of my sister. We are more alike than different.
I guess that is what adoption is supposed to be like. You are part of a family together no matter what.
It is interesting to me that the Bible tells us God has adopted those who follow Jesus as part of his family. It has implications for how we view God but also how we view one another.
If you are a believer then you are part of one large family with me. Most of the time I forget that too.
My friend Justin Davis over at Refine Us ministries posted this today. (It sounds very much like my sermon last Sunday)
In December 2013, I set a goal to lose 40 pounds in 2014. (It was the third year in a row that I had set this goal, but don’t judge me.)
My goal seemed well thought out. It was measurable, it was attainable, and it had a timetable.
What I didn’t have was a plan.
I didn’t have a workout strategy or gym schedule. I didn’t have someone lined up to work out with. I had no meal plan or diet. I had great intentions, but no intentional plan to make my goal a reality.
Easter Sunday we had our picture taken as a family. I looked at that picture and realized I was heavier than I’d ever been. Despite my good intentions, I hadn’t lost a pound.
Within a week I came up with a weight loss plan and as of today, I’ve lost 36 of my 40-pound goal.
Most couples I know have great intentions of improving their marriage relationship. They want to communicate better with their spouse. They want to resolve conflict in a healthy way. They want to improve the sexual intimacy aspect of their relationship.
Desire isn’t the problem…
I’m still thinking a great deal about relationships. Today’s thought comes from two totally different stories.
The first story is about a man I knew in Alaska. I would ask him how he was doing and he would respond with, “It’s all good.” He never told me he was doing well or having a good day. For him life was “all good.”
The second story is from a worship program years ago. I was visiting a Church to start a Revival series in a town nearby. I knew the minister well, but did not know anyone in the congregation. At the beginning of the worship program the minister asked if there were any prayer requests. One man stood up with his wife and he said, “Today we are celebrating 55 years of being happily married.” She quickly shoved her elbow into his side and said, “We have been married for 60 years.” He said, “I know, but we have only had 55 years of happiness.”
As I think about all of the relationships in my life I realize that none of them have been ALL good. Don’t get me wrong – I have people I deeply love that I enjoy a wonderful relationship with. But all of them have some rocky patches. There are days when things don’t go well and we do not get along. My life is rarely all good.
In fact, in many of my weddings I tell the couple that the difference between marriages that make it for life and those that don’t is not the number of problems they have. The difference between the two is there willingness to hold on through the difficult times.
The same is true in all your relationships. If you are experiencing a time of difficulty, then work hard to make it better. But also, hold on for the good times. Someday things will be good again.
One of my favorite books is by Pete Gall and is entitled “My Beautiful Idol.” Honestly it is not the best written book I have ever read. It is not the most interesting or the most insightful. It is full of humor I enjoy that is often dripping with sarcasm. The book basically tells the story of a man’s life as he struggles in relationships and his attempts to serve God in a fallen world. His journey takes him out to Colorado where it eventually comes to an end.
What catches my attention most is the final few chapters. After all has fallen apart in his life his brother drives across country and helps him load everything up to return home. He makes the observation that after everything else has fallen apart it is family who is there to you him get back up.
I am at my parents for a couple of days so that they can see their grandchildren. With almost every visit I am reminded of the simple truth about families. A good family is one that is there when the rest of the world is chaos.
So today I thank God for my family – my father and mother, my wife and kids, my brother and sister and all of the extended family. I enjoy my time with them and I realize I am a blessed man. If you have a wonderful family (and I know that not everyone does) then take a moment to thank God for them. I cannot imagine where my life would be without them.
Here are a few of the most thought provoking reads for me from around the internet this week:
* “Confusing Worship with Fellowship” over at Church for Men
* “Two Ways to Improve Your Marriage” by Ron Edmondson
* Ron had another interesting article entitled “10 Things I’d Do Different If I Weren’t a Pastor”
* Carey Nieuwhof wrote about “21 Signs Your Church Needs to Change”
I want to take a small opportunity to say “Thank You” to the people of Adrian Christian Church and the community of Adrian in general.
To Adrian Christian Church – I want to say thanks for helping with my house and for you gifts of various materials including food, money, chairs and a bed. I want to say thanks for all of the produce. We have enjoyed all kinds of fresh vegetables while putting 30 packages of corn in the freezer. Thanks for allowing my family to use your pools. Thanks for you conversation and kind words. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Thanks for welcoming my family into your family.
To the community of Adrian – thanks for welcoming me and my family into your community. Thanks to my neighbors for stopping to visit and inviting us over. Thanks to the school for welcoming my boys. Thanks for making the transition from Alaska an easy one. I appreciate everyone’s patience and kindness toward us.
Thanks to everyone who has helped in any way during the past month. The first month has been a great experience and we look forward to many more here in Adrian Missouri.
This week I have been writing about relationships. The people God puts into our life can bring us joy and can connect with us very deeply. Unfortunately not all of the people in our life are like that. In fact, some people can be very draining and difficult.
I have a book on my shelf entitled “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand” by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner. It states that there are 10 types of difficult people.
1. The Tank – the pushy and forceful person
2. The Sniper – the person who identifies your weakness and uses it against you
3. The Know-It-All – they will not tolerate your inferior ideas
4. The Think-They-Know-It-All – they exaggerate, mislead and distract
5. The Grenade – the person who blows there top and hurts everyone around
6. The Yes Person – quick to agree but lack follow through
7. The Maybe Person – They can’t make a decision
8. The Nothing Person – They provide no feedback on anything
9. The No Person – Discouragement is their gift
10. The Whiner – This person carries the weight of the world & wants everyone to know.
Do you know any of these people? Do you know all of these people? Most likely you do.
When we deal with people like these the number one piece of advice the book gives is simply “adjust your attitude.” Don’t expect these people to act differently and then become frustrated when they don’t. Instead, adjust your mindset to handle these people in a way they need to be handled. Most of these people are filled with good intentions, but they have different set of life experiences than I do. They think they are handling things for the best, just like I do. My call is to “bear with one another in love.”
The final chapter of this book is the most painful. It asks this question, “What if people can’t stand you?” What if I am one of these people in the list above? There is a good chance I am. You see, I could spend my whole life trying to change other people while ignoring my own difficulties.
The first part of dealing with difficult people is to look in the mirror and try to fix my own issues. I cannot change other people’s actions but I can change my own.