Marriage, Info & Help

Practicing the Art of ListeningPremium Content

Proverbs 18:13 NRSV
If one gives answer before hearing,
it is folly and shame.


I don't know whether or not I'm a baby boomer, but I do know that I've grown up in the era of psychology. Everything is about learning how to relate to others, learning how to know one's self, figuring out why we are dysfunctional.

One of the psychological "skills" that has been taught a lot is active listening. Wikipedia gives a great definition:

"When interacting, people often are not listening attentively to one another. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next, (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements). Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one's own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening).

It's interesting to me that the Bible was talking about active listening long before we even had psychologists. "If one gives answer before hearing . . ." Even if we hear the sounds that doesn't mean that we are hearing the content. The reality is that if we are thinking about how to respond rather than truly listening, we are focusing (again) on ourselves rather than the other person. We are working on a "defense" for our own position, rather than really caring about how that other person feels (and thinks). We are concerned about protecting ourselves rather than trusting God to protect us.

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What Do You Gain When You Rescue Someone?Premium Content

Proverbs 19:19:
A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;
if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

"My husband is a hot-tempered man," Rosie told me. "In a fit of rage, he broke my mother's special vase."

"What happened next?" I asked.

Rosie blushed as she talked about rushing to the store to find a vase just like the one her husband broke before her mother returned home.

I looked into her eyes and asked if she had covered for her husband in the past.

Rosie wouldn't look at me. However, she admitted she had rescued her husband many times from the consequences of his behavior.

"Are you tired of rescuing your husband?"

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Family Doesn't Come Easily

Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.


These days everything is throw-away. We love our fast food disposable society. Our cars break down; we buy new ones. Our homes need remodeling; we buy bigger ones. Our relationships sour; we find new "families." We've lost an important sense of investment in life. Rather than invest, we throw out. And we fail to learn many important lessons when we live like this. We also may find ourselves on the short end of the stick when adversity strikes because we won't have established the kind of relationships and skills that are necessary to persevere through the hard times.

Is My Way Always Right?

Proverbs 17:19 NRSV
One who loves transgression loves strife;
one who builds a high threshold invites broken bones.

I have a terrible tendency to want, to need to be right. And if my opinions, my way is always right, then I am likely going to be in contention with those around me who see and perceive the world differently than I do. Psalm 94:4 equates arrogance (the need to be right): They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. (NRSV) Demanding that only our way is right is the same as boasting. And arrogance isn't the way of the believer. The believer is called to be humble. In fact, when we are humble, we are obedient, but when we are not humble -- when we are arrogant and self-seeking -- we are living in strife with those around us and are in sin. In fact, it is impossible to please God unless we are humble: Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67 NRSV

What Kind of Friend Am I ?

Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

Prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit (in the New Testament), those who followed the Lord (predominantly Israelites) had only the capacity for earthly love, not for heavenly or agape love since they loved out of their own ability and not through the spiritual ability of the Spirit. However, there were still higher standards of behavior given. In the Law, the Lord required:

"You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:17-18 NRSV


You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It was this law that was discussed by the lawyer and the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:

Listening More and Talking Less

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.


Proverbs talks a lot about, well, talking! I think that we often confirm who we are (whether we want to be that person or not) when we talk. Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." And yet, we still talk. We talk in person. We talk (and text) on cell phones. We talk on the Internet. We talk, talk, talk. And a great deal of the time, we are "expressing personal opinion."

Do We Truly Love or are We Only Loving Ourselves?

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 RSV
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you."

If we, the Church, were more obedient to God's Word, churches would probably be much smaller. Paul's admonition here is for Christians not to associate with those bear "the name of brother" if:

  • They are immoral
  • They are greedy
  • They are an idolater
  • They are a reviler
  • They are a drunkard
  • They are a robber

Understanding and Living our Relationships According to GodPremium Content

... diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Who do we have relationships with? What are our most important relationships? How should we handle our relationships with others? Is our interaction with others pleasing to God?

Who do we have relationships with?

    1. God/Christ
    2. Spouse
    3. Children
    4. Extended family (parents, grandparents, uncles, nieces -- etc)
    5. Friends
    6. Co-workers and acquaintances

What are our most important relationships? (In this order)

    1. God / Jesus Christ
    2. Spouse
    3. Children
    4. Family
    5. Friends/Others

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Am I Codependent or being a Good Christian?Premium Content

On the surface, codependency messages sound like Christian teaching:

    "Codependents always put others first before taking care of themselves."
    (Aren't Christians to put others first?) .

    "Codependents give themselves away."
    (Shouldn't Christians do the same?).

"Codependents martyr themselves."
(Doesn't Christianity honor its martyrs?)

Those statements have a familiar ring, don't they? Then how can we distinguish between codependency, which is unhealthy to codependents and their dependents, and mature faith, which is healthy.

Codependency says:.

    I have little or no value.
    Other persons and situations have all the value.

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Am I Codependent?Premium Content

If you think or believe the following statements, it may be a sign that you are codependent:

    My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.

    My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

    Your struggles affect my serenity. My mental attention is focused on solving your problems or relieving your pain.

    My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.

    My mental attention is focused on protecting you.

    My mental attention is focused on manipulating you "to do it my way."

    My self ­esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

    My self ­esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

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