Category Archives: Relationships

Book Review: Open

Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Open 3DAccountable By Craig Gross

Published by Thomas Nelson
July 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4002-0530-1

Craig Gross is best known for the creation of XXXchurch.com and x3Wtach accountability software.  He is a Author, Speaker and Pastor.  He has a total of 9 books that he has authored.

I took the time to read and re-read this book before writing my review.  The issue of accountability is one that I’m passionate about and I can say that this book is one of the best that I have read on the subject.

Craig starts out by first and foremost addressing the reasons why someone needs accountability.  One of the issues that alot of people face is that they compartmentalize their lives and as a result live parts of their life in secretes.  Craig says “when you start doing things in secret, you can start doing them to excess, and they can spiral out of control.  That’s when you have a problem.” (XIX)   With the common trend of more and more technology that allow us to “connect” electronically with people we are as a result honestly connecting less and less.  He says “We are connected to more poeple than ever before, able to give and receive instantaneous updates on the minutiae of our lives … yet we remain curiously unsatisfied and isolated.” (xx) This pseudo connection is what needs to be addressed in accountability. As Craig puts it “in the long run, that is what accountability is really  about.  Its about living a richer, more fulfilled, more satisfying life.” (xxi).

Craig’s first section addresses the why’s of accountability including real life examples from people like you and me to government employees and issues that have been in the news. He then moves from the whys to what it requires and hits on some of the key ingredients of accountability such as Honesty, Courage, and the need for Help.

He goes into details on ideas of ways to get into accountability and what it requires.  There are so many details and ideas that I could fill many blog posts on, but for now I encourage you to get the book, read it, and personally apply it to your life if your not already in an accountability relationship.  If you are in an accountability relationship the book will provide you with ideas on how to go deeper and grow further as a result. I personally am going to apply what I’ve learned.  This book will be a great reference book in my collection.

To Get Your Own copy go to the following or another book retailer you choose and crack it open:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

If you order your book before it releases, do it by July 29, 2013 and you can get some more awesome stuff.  Got check it out  here: Click here for awesome pre-release offers. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation.

But I did like the book so much that I went out and bought a hard copy to have on my shelf.


Attitude and Words

Attitude and Words
Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
          “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And ever tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Recently (not so recently as this was just found unposted, oops) I have noticed issues with attitudes and how people are being treated.  A lot of this is in my own attitude towards others, work, ect.  But I have also seen it in those around me and the way that others are treated and the way they react in situations.  It is so hard to sit by and watch as someone you care about it belittled or hurt by another persons words. It’s not just the words that hurt but it is the attitude behind those words that make such an impact.  I have had to withdraw myself from people and situations when I knew that my attitude was not right and that I could not stand to be near the attitudes of others.  I know that this may not be the most appropriate thing in some peoples eyes, but I know that in these situations if I do not withdraw that I will lash out and in turn my attitude will not be one that is pleasing to God. 

Tied into this is the issue of the tongue obviously.  James 1:26 (NIV) states, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”    I think that so often people do not realize how much the words they say hurt.  They may not think that they are hurtful and instead think that they are helping the person with the project or task they are working on, but instead the way that words are said stab the person deeply. 

 

I think that we all need to review our attitude and the way that we use our words.  I think that we often say way more than is necessary and in turn deeply wound and injure those around us.  As Christian’s we are meant to be God’s agents of healing, speaking the truth in love, and building the community.  By using words that injure we are not healing nor building the community.  Truth in love is not something that happens everyday but when we are dealing with a fellow believer who is struggling with sin or areas in their life which need to be corrected or dealt with as they are not pleasing to God.

 

So final thought:  When dealing with anyone, check the attitude you have and are using in your conversation, and also check, your words.  The psychological injury from words is a painful one, one that takes along time to heal from.  Be Christ with flesh on.

 

~tfkr

How much do you push others?

Over the past few years I’ve had the problem with friendships of, ok you said you wanted to do something but you won’t respond…..

How much do we push/pull those we are in relationship with?  When do we just throw up our hands?

I don’t want to be the “annoying” person who is nagging people to do things they said they want to do.  But I also don’t want to be the friend who just doesn’t care and doesn’t do anything.

So I’m in a tough spot…..

I have friends who want to hang but show no motiviation to connect.  Friends who have mutual goals with me but don’t respond to trying to put a plan in action…….

What am I to do?   Is it the good old three strikes and your out?  Do I need to take a more confrontational approach (ie making phone calls instead of emails/text?)?  Do I just sit back and leave the ball in the other persons court?

I want friends that pursue me and care about me, and I thought the way to help nurture that was to do the same for them.  But apparently that doesn’t work anymore….  I don’t want to drive people away but I do want to encourage people to grow and to be in community.

Part of me again wants to throw up my hands and says who cares……

I know what I need to do when people pursue me.  I need to respond and be involved not just fluff it off……

So whats your thoughts? What do you do?

~tfkr


Prayer and Conferssion

Today’s thoughts come in tandem with my last post.  I think that we often just think of confessing our sins to God, which is an absolute must.  However when there are certain issues (don’t have a list of them) that is affecting ones walk with God, Spouse, Family, Others there is some freedom, support and healing that can happen when we share the confession of that sin with others.  Take a look at this passage:

James 5:16 (New International Version)

16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 We forget often that we are a community of brothers and sisters and that we are called to pray for each other, to support and walk alongside.  When we speak of our sin and brokeness with other believers and allow them into our brokeness we are battling the devils grip and hold on is.  Things that are kept secret the devil attacks even harder and tries to bring us down.

This last semester in our couples group I have witnessed not only the power of prayer (its healing and encouraging affects) but also confession of sin, struggles, and strongholds.  I’ve been reminded so much about how we need to remeber to not just listen but to step and pray for the working of God in others lives.

Seek to be and live in community where prayer, conferssion, and accountability can grow. Give God the glory.

~tfkr


Broken and in Need of Healing

I love talking with my friends and acquintances about life and where they have been and looking forward to seeing where they are going. 

One common thread I have noticed is that we all are broken and in need of healing.   Healing that only God can provide. 

This past week I was brought back to feeling broken by anothers pain and suffering that occured due to choices in their past.  This discussion again reminded me of the impact of our actions and sins from the past and how they can still affect us even today year and years after the fact. 

The pains and things that have been left in the past still hit us from time to time and our enemy the devil tries to use these struggles, sins and bad decisions to affect us today.  To destroy beautiful marriages, friendships, lives and carrers.  A song from a band that I heard in high school that used 2 corinthians 4 as a bases of the lyrics keeps playing in my head (even though I haven’t heard it in years).   Focus on these key verses for a minte: 

2 Corinthians 4

Treasures in Jars of Clay

 1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God……But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 

I know that I should take more time to study this passage especially verses 8-10.  But Right now this passage is speaking loudly to met about the battle that is going on around us.  The Devil is seeking to destroy those of us who are seeking to live a life devoted to God.  He seeks to use things from our past to destroy us.  To keep us from growing closer to God.  From having an amazing marriage.  

So my challenge to you.  When you look into the mirror don’t see the broken mirror of your past, but know that the mirror is made new.  That you are a new creation in Christ and that mirror is made new, no more cracks.  Know that God loves you as His child.  Put on the the full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  Live on and in the Word, seek to know God.  Do not allow the Devil a foothold in your live, actions, thoughts or deeds! 

~tfkr


Self Esteem/Identity

Its been one of those weeks where this topic has been hitting me in many ways.  It started off in a small group conversation that boiled down to the fact that one of the area’s I have struggles with in allowing God full control is that of my self esteem and natural responses to the situations I’m in. Then it went from this conversation to a discussion with a mentor about it, to a sermon, and then talking with a good buddy.

Self esteem and my Identity were things that I was really conscious of during High School, but it is something that I have thought of less and less as an adult.  We all know that during High School years the battle is to fit in, to be accepted, to be “Cool”.  I know that I struggled greatly with this during my High School years and the years to follow.  Its something that for the most part I don’t think of day to day anymore.  However I have been reminded that this battle of my self esteem/identity makes up a large part of who I am.  It affects greatly how I relate to others, handle situations, and various other areas of life that I struggle with.  I know that it affects everyone differently, but we must remember that no matter how put together we appear, everyone has an issue of their self esteem and identity.

I was surprised when one person in the group discussion said they were surprised that I struggled with this.  They thought that I was more of the type that would say “If you don’t like me thats your problem, get lost”.  It just reminded me that we come off to others differently than we do to ourselves.  It was a good reminder as it also prompted me to remind myself and others that we all have hurts and need to be accepted.

God hit me on the head with this issue and what I need to do to continue to work on it this Sunday.  Jeff our Senior pastor preached from Ephesians 1:3-14.  Jeff preaches alot of great sermons, but this one in particular hit me on the head.  He spoke directly to the fact that we need to connect our Identity to our relationship with God and nothing else.  He used three images found in this passage.  They are that of being Adopted by God (vs. 5), Redemption (vs. 7), and Sealing (vs. 13). It was powerful to be reminded that I am adopted by God, that it is His pleasure to have me as His son.  Also that God was willing to buy me at a price, the price of his Son’s blood.  Just a great reminder that we are valuable.  And that we are sealed, like in the early days and times of Ephesus were things were sealed with a crest or emblem marking the ownership of the item.  We are marked as Children of God, and we are HIS>

Jeff finished the sermon with a great phrase:

“He adopted me, He bought me, I’m His!”

Remember that today and everyday.  Write it on your arm, your heart, your mind, your desk, your dashboard.  Remeber that you are a Child of God, you matter to Him.

Seek Him in every situation and know when the Devil hits you over the head that you can fight back and know that you are a child of God and are deeply loved.  Don’t fall for his lies!


Relationships and the Internet

CommunityLately I have been doing a lot of thinking about how the Internet and its related technologies/services impact our lives and most importantly our relationships.  I am (you can even ask my family/friends) a lover of computers and technology.  I enjoy learning, using and exploring technologies.

As I have had time to reflect on some of the technologies and how they have impacted my life and those around me I raise the question:  ARE ALL INTERNET SERVICES/TECHNOLOGIES BENEFICIAL TO SOCIETY, INDIVIDUALS, AND MORE RELATIONSHIPS?

As I have had time to reflect on some of the technologies and how they have impacted my life and those around me I raise the question:  ARE ALL INTERNET SERVICES/TECHNOLOGIES BENEFICIAL TO SOCIETY, INDIVIDUALS, AND MORE RELATIONSHIPS?

My Honest, heartfelt answer: NO!

Let me lay out some of my thoughts on the pros and cons and then explain my position.

Pros:

The Internet and its various services provide us with a way to quickly connect via email, IM, Twitter, Facebook and to know what is going on with others.  It provides a place to quickly and easily find information.  It provides for connection that may not be otherwise feasible due to distance, time zones, and finances.  They provide for networking with others who can help you with your current job or schooling and provide you with much needed information. An easy way to share information with people in your lives and the whole world.  Relationally it allows one to be instantly in touch with people, to provide information and contacts that would not be otherwise possible with just a piece of paper and the telephone.

Cons:

Alone

-Distracts from personal face to face interactions and relationship.

-Provides an easy emotional escape from the realities and frustrations that come with relationships

-Pornography, which is easily accessible and destroys relationships.

-Providing too much information and jeopardizing your own/families privacy and safety.

-Does not promote true community, but instead fosters isolation and a false sense of connection.

-Takes time away from family, friends and the relationships that should truly matter.

I think that as we evaluate our own use of the Internet and “Social Media” we need to be careful to make sure that our use does not start to impact our relationships in a negative way.  We all need to be able to appropriately interact with others in a face to face context and not just in “cyber space”.  Marriages, families, and work relationships cannot successfully exist without regular face to face interaction.

There is not set guidelines of what is appropriate across the board, but instead, each individual must evaluate their life situation and job and consider what would be the most appropriate plan for using technology.  Our decisions should be first and foremost based on our family and relationships with them and last of all should be based on our job or desire for recognition by others.  Life is not a popularity contest.  Our first and greatest commandment is found in Matthew 22: 37-3937Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

I hope my thoughts provoke each of you to revisit in your mind what is appropriate for you and your life when it comes to the Internet and Social Media.

~tfkr