Who We Become in Christ

06/22/2015 § Leave a comment

God’s desire for us is to live an abundant life. It is a life not with promises of perfect health and riches, but a life that understands the relevance of Christ’s presence and a desire to be more faithful and obedient to Him. Our riches are not physical. They are in the abundance of living a life for Jesus Christ. [1] In our living this abundant life, we develop the mind of Christ and perform acts of ministry to others in worship to Him and in praise for Him.

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we receive the aid of the Holy Spirit who provides us with the desire to want to serve Him. We want to please Him often before we know how to do so. The enthusiasm of a new life in Christ is present (2 Corinthians 5:17), but the challenge is to build upon the enthusiasm with the actions that we believe are best in line with His will and purpose for our lives.

This is also true for “fifty-somethings” like me who have known Jesus for over twenty years. I have encouraged my church Sunday school class and congregation to always remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit as you submit your life to Him in prayer as to your focus within the body of Christ and in ministry as to your purpose. Everyone is born with at least one talent. The prayer is that God reveals to you all of your talents, abilities AND your spiritual gifts that He gives to you as you became a believer in Christ. You have to seek His wisdom and guidance in this area to reach your fullest potential.

Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life helped its readers to recognize that each person created by God has a purpose. As we read Warren’s first words of the book, “It’s not about you,” [2] it is apparent that our lives are not our own as much as we would like. We are often confronted with the reality that what we are doing in our vocational work or even within our actions in church is inadequate as we reckon with God’s calling for our lives.

The most important things that a person can do to resolve this issue include the ongoing development of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. There must be a closeness with Christ in order to be in tune with His will and desires for you to be fulfilled. Of course, Satan and his agents will put up all sorts of opposition or obstacles that will keep you from developing this closeness. Your busyness will challenge your ability to focus on Jesus Christ, but your efforts to remain steadfast with Him and in Him makes you Satan’s enemy. Thankfully, you have the power of the conquering Holy Spirit who will cling to you and provide protection (Isaiah 54:17).

It begins with communication–His Word speaks to you and you respond in prayer. An in-depth review of His communication with you requires the quietness of meditation. From there, you can live with the confidence that God will provide direction for you as you grow in your relationship.

There may be a change of path in your vocation or even your career of service as you navigate through life, but there is nothing better than receiving the directions from the guiding hands of Jesus Christ as you move forward.

 

1 Article – John 10:10 – The Abundant Life (2000). Grace Communion International. © 2015 Grace Communion International. Retrieved June 18, 2015 from https://www.gci.org/bible/john1010

2 Warren, Richard (2002). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? Copyright © 2002, 2011, 2012 by Rick Warren. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI., pg. 21

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Step Back to Step Forward in Christ

08/18/2014 § Leave a comment

A message text presented Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church:

This past week, I was able to take the opportunity to use a paid day from work as a volunteer at a charity of my choice.  I selected The Emergency Assistance Center in Northfield Center OH, which is the largest food pantry in northern Summit County.  I was able to meet Joyce Hunt, the Executive Director, Lori, one of the staff members, and a group of volunteers.  The ministry there has grown in the last couple of years since Joyce came on board, and they have extended their footprint beyond the Nordonia Hills area.  They also serve the needs of residents in Twinsburg, Richfield and Boston Heights.  The need has grown over the years where they are servicing over 700 clients per month who are in need of food, clothing or even hygiene products, and they always serve every person who comes through the door with a smile and the love of Jesus Christ.  A person can select what they want according to guidelines established, and they also get free meats and bread.  The Emergency Assistance Center has partnerships with churches in the area and businesses throughout Greater Cleveland—and all without one dollar of government grants or assistance.  It is all done through donations and the selfless efforts of 60 volunteers.  They are making a difference in the community to thwart hunger and provide a lifeline to overcome poverty.  Joyce and the staff readily admit that without all of the volunteers, they could never keep up with the demand and maintain the ministry, and they absolutely believe that God is in the midst of all of it—and that He is to be glorified.

Here is one more way that kingdom work is going on for the glory of God—and giving credit where credit is due…to God and for His glory and purpose.  The testimony to others is in the sharing of the love of Christ.

Notice how all of the heart and soul of ministry certainly begins with our collective efforts of service and duty for the kingdom, and yet we see how people sincerely attribute their efforts, and especially our successes, to God.  When we see testimonies like this, know that God Himself is at the very center of our Christian faith and ministry.

In order to be able to see God truly at work in your life, you need to take a step backward in order to move several steps forward.

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

 

Exalt you in what way?

By giving you fame and fortune? Maybe—but it’s highly unlikely.

By giving you a bigger house and car? Maybe—but it’s highly unlikely.

If you’re entertaining these thoughts, you are missing the point.

In the context of the verse, the act of humbling yourself in the book of James chapter 4 means having a serious approach to who God is when you consider your overall unworthiness before Him.

James 4:1-10

1 What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?  2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.

Adulteresses!  Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:

God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

 

God wants to see more from you than someone who talks a good game.  He wants to see how you are truly following Him, and it’s not in what you say or in how much you are doing for Him.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Better to draw near in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they ignorantly do wrong. Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. For dreams result from much work and a fool’s voice from many words.

 

1 Samuel 15:22-23

22 Then Samuel said:

Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?

Look: to obey is better than sacrifice,
to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has rejected you as king.

 

Note that your success in Christ has nothing to do with your own thought process, your own ways of thinking or reasoning—all of these originate in the flesh.  In order to take steps forward in your faith and in your ministry before others, you need to take a step back and humble yourself before Him.  If you choose not to humble yourself, you render yourself useless within His kingdom.

Here’s a point of controversy, for sure—I’m not saying that you can’t do anything without Jesus.  You can do a lot of things without Jesus.  In fact, you can do many things and even see results, but be sure that you understand what those accomplishments mean according to His ways and His standards.  You may have your own standards, but how do they stand up to God’s standards?

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

You can do something without Jesus, but in the end, it amounts to nothing.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)

We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

 

Isaiah wrote about these so-called righteous deeds of the Israelites but he was stating, in reality, that they were nothing more than junk before God because of their hypocrisy.  This verse is commonly known as the “filthy rags” verse.  Gotquestions.org notes that the word filthy is a translation of the Hebrew word iddah, which literally means “the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual cycle.” This is how we are to see how God sees our self-centered approach to the good things that we think we are doing—namely, they are as useless to Him as a soiled feminine hygiene product. [1]

The things that we think we are doing for the Lord amount to nothing that is worth keeping around.  It all comes down to thinking more of yourself than you really are when you are outside of God’s will and live in disobedience to Him.

Jeremiah 13:1-11

1 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy yourself a linen undergarment and put it on, but do not put it in water.” So I bought underwear as the Lord instructed me and put it on.

Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing, and go at once to the Euphrates and hide it in a rocky crevice.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

A long time later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to the Euphrates and get the underwear that I commanded you to hide there.” So I went to the Euphrates and dug up the underwear and got it from the place where I had hidden it, but it was ruined—of no use at all.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: Just like this I will ruin the great pride of both Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These evil people, who refuse to listen to Me, who follow the stubbornness of their own hearts, and who have followed other gods to serve and worship—they will be like this underwear, of no use at all. 11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, but they would not obey.

 

Without obedience, your works amount to nothing.

If Jesus is not in it, it isn’t worth doing it.

If Jesus is not in it, you’ve received your prize for your effort.

Matthew 6:1-4

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

God proclaims that your fleshly works, on their own merit, amount to nothing more than soiled products or ruined underwear.  Your works are only justified when you are justified in your humble relationship with Jesus Christ.  Your works will be seen as fruits of the Holy Spirit when you humble yourself before Him.  Only then will He exalt you, and it will be in such a way where you will see His fruits in your efforts and all that you will be able to do is proclaim, “He did it!”

How connected are you with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Just as we cannot live without an air supply, we cannot be fruitful in the world, and even within the body of Christ, without the presence of the Holy Spirit.  One of the best examples of this is the study of the verses in John, chapter 15, of the vine and the branches.  It reflects the necessity of one very important element in our actions as we exist within a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, and it has everything to do with our obedience to His Word, His commands, and His will.

God wants you to see that He values your relationship with Him much more than your service.  Yes, the service is important, but not more important than Him.

If you choose to “do good with works” over a relationship with Jesus Christ, you should know that, at some point in the future, you can’t be fruitful without Him.  There is no substitute for Jesus Christ.  Your ministry depends completely upon the fruitfulness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who enables you to minister to others.

 

John 15:1-8

 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

 

Whether you remain in Him (or not)—he will not desert you or forget about you—He encourages us, and even fortifies us with His very presence.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

 

Jesus is the vine that allows you to be fruitful in your ministry.

Without Him, you cannot bear good fruit.

Jesus will also prune you in order for you to be fruitful.  Pruning sounds a little painful, doesn’t it?

When was the last time that Jesus used His pruning shears on you?  Was it a moment of discipline?  Believe it or not, you should be encouraged by the fact that you were indeed shown the way to repentance, for repentance means that God loves you and desires to draw you back into fellowship with Him.  Your return to fellowship means that God is pruning you to return you to fruitfulness.

Hebrews 12:3-11

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or faint when you are reproved by Him,
for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son He receives.

Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

What work does Jesus need to do in your life to make you more fruitful?  Does he need to do some minor pruning—or more than that?

With the knowledge that obedience to Jesus Christ keeps you fruitful, you can now see God working in your life of fruitfulness by showing the love of Christ to others.  He chose you to do the work.  What an honor it is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

John 15:9-17

“As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Your work in Christ will show the love of Christ to others.  You were selected to do the work for His glory.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

 

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

1 “Why are all of our righteous acts considered filthy rags?” (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http:// http://www.gotquestions.org/filthy-rags.html

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

Plan, Organize and Prioritize

12/10/2013 § Leave a comment

One of the most important challenges in today’s workplace is how to manage workflow with fewer personnel. As the work continues, the staff has to meet the ongoing tasks before them with the proper preparation each day. As a supervisor, I encourage each of my staff members to make sure that they are doing the following three things each month in order to give them the best chance for reaching their goals and incentives:

1. Plan. The planning prior to the start of the work day should begin in earnest at the end of a previous work day in order for the work to resume the next day without delay. I don’t recommend taking the work home to mull over because that time is best spent relaxing or enjoying family time. That time is needed to depressurize after a full day of work. It is often necessary to recharge and “push the refresh button” for the next workday. Adequate planning involves charting out your to-do list for the next day and finalizing it while you still have “control” of the day.

2. Organize. The best plans are derailed if you have difficulty locating key information or can’t find that important letter under a pile of papers that should have been recycled or discarded long ago. I have found that it is a good practice to use the last half-day of the month to do some housekeeping around your workspace, or perhaps doing it at a time when you can no longer stand the sight of your multiple stacks of paper piles. It may be habitual to keep papers around to provide a sense of security because we genuinely believe that they’re necessary.  That’s OK…just keep making it a point to clean up when you are ready to let go! Create a filing system that will meet the ongoing needs for forms or documents that you will often use, and be consistent in the same way when you need to pull information from your computer. In the process of organizing your workspace, it is a good idea to take the time to familiarize yourself with ways to become more efficient in your communication with clients and interoffice personnel without the need to push paper back and forth. If there is a way to recycle paper instead of trashing it, do it, but make sure that you thoroughly destroy any documentation with sensitive information.

3. Prioritize. Even the best plans get derailed with unforeseen circumstances as the workday progresses. Projects…initiatives…fire drills…these are a way of life at work. You still need the original plan to get back on track when the time comes, but you absolutely have to be able to manage the onslaught of work by setting priorities. How are priorities determined? Remember your goals and how you can achieve them—this is where you begin to assess your priorities. If you are achieving the goals presented before you, it is a virtual certainty that you are accomplishing the exact expectations of your superiors and for the entire department. If you are hitting your goals, you are performing well for the entire company. This is all the more reason to manage your priorities effectively. It will always lead you in the right direction. As an example, from a customer service perspective, phone calls and voice mails always take priority over emails received. Emails can be navigated over time, while phone calls project more of an immediate need from both internal and external customers. It should also be noted that the most pressing issue that comes up is not always the one with the largest dollar value or payoff at stake. Sometimes you have to use old-fashioned good judgment in establishing your priorities. The proper prioritization of your work will help you to avoid backtracking, unnecessary do-overs and loss of your overall momentum. Work your to-do list and number the items by what needs to be done first, second, third, and so on. If a task continues to slip further down on your priority list, make sure that the issue is not coupled with a person on your internal or external customer list.  If there is a person waiting for an answer, have the courtesy to ask the person when they need a response or propose a time…and stick to the timeline. Even in prioritizing your work, you can show that you are willing to go the extra mile with effective communication skills.

Success can be achieved by applying these three fundamental principles over time—plan, organize and prioritize. A person, who plans, stays organized and establishes priorities, will achieve and realize his or her accomplishments and consistently perform at a high level. These characteristics make for successful, goal-oriented team players and even future leaders.

How To Glorify God

01/28/2012 § Leave a comment

Every day that we live is a day of opportunity.  There are many different events within the day that, when they are all lumped together, make up the events that summarize your day of opportunity.  The mini-events have such an effect where we can conclude that the overall day was “a good one” or “a bad one,” and we readily recognize days where there are triumphs, successes, and, of course, setbacks or tragedies.  We often measure our personal progress in segments that are broken down to the days we live, but we need to always remember that personal success or failure are not to be the defining measurement of our life.  Our true success is in how we glorify God in everything that we do.

When we look at the things that we do each day, we don’t often think about glorifying God in what we do.  We don’t, for example, look at the act of brushing our teeth as a way of glorifying God, but consider that your good habits of caring for your teeth will keep your healthy and make a contribution towards your overall appearance as you do your work for the Lord! When we look at this verse, it gives greater evidence to the fact that the Lord wants you to have the same focus in everything you do:

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

This includes everything that you do in work, in leisure, at home, at the grocery store—everywhere that you go.  This involves a lifestyle of living eagerly for Christ—and it means that everything that you do will reflect your love for the Lord.  It will be evident in your appearance, your speech, and your actions.  You are a living testimony for Jesus Christ, and it will be evident to everyone who sees you.  All of your words and actions will, in turn, glorify God!

Your approach to your life has a profound effect on how you glorify God.  If you wake up every day “on the wrong side of the bed,” your focus will often reflect on negativity rather than on being positive or having a favorable outlook on life.  Your approach to life is often about your attitude.  A person with an attitude problem is more focused on self and all of the issues surrounding the cause of the attitude than on doing anything enthusiastically for the Lord.  Your attitude will invariably have a positive or negative impact on your day of opportunity.

In order to maximize your ability to glorify God in everything that you do, it is important for you to develop a living philosophy and approach to each day.  This is not about reading more self-help books or looking for something that the world offers about feeling good about yourself, but there is a lot to be said about the importance of confidence in who you are and what you do, and that confidence comes with your understanding of who Jesus Christ is in your life and the loyalty that you have for Christ because of what He has done for you. 

1 Peter 2:24

He Himself bore our sins 
in His body on the tree,
so that, having died to sins,
we might live for righteousness;
you have been healed by His wounds.

Remember that everything that you do or say is because of your healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is working within you as you work through Him, which, in turn, brings Him glory.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Philippians 4:13

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Glorifying God to the best of your ability consists of three important elements:

1.) Being yourself

To be yourself is not the essence of living any way you want to as we are addressing it here, for to do so means that you are focusing more upon self than upon God.  Being yourself is about living as the very person that God created you to be.  To be who you are in Christ is the opposite of living in your own strength or ability, or even living in such a way where you are conforming to the expectations of others.  God would rather that you not listen to what your friends or family say that you should be, but instead would rather that you would be obedient to His Word and to His will as you live your life.  He knows you better that anyone else does, and He reminds you over and over how much He values you as a person:

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For it was You who created my inward parts; 
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

You should also be yourself because God knows your heart, which indicates your sincerity in your relationship with Him as you perform your daily routine.

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”

2.) Use your gifts and talents

Since God created you to be yourself, He gave you certain gifts and talents that He wants you to use and develop in order to be a living testimony—which will glorify God as you use your gifts.

Romans 12:6-8

6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

   If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s faith;
7
 if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
8
 if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Notice that our gifts are to be used with humility but also with the confidence that our gifts promote a position of leadership in our ministry for the Lord.  You don’t have to be a leader in your group to exhibit leadership qualities.  Those who are great in hospitality are performing acts of service, but it is in those acts of service you are exhibiting leadership as a member of the body of Christ.  Your acts cannot help but glorify Him because you are using your gifts for Him.

3.) Seek excellence in everything you do

As you live and grow each day, you discover that there is always room for even more growth and more improvement.  Life is meant to be a learning experience, and if you continue to find ways to grow in the use of your gifts and talents, you will continue to glorify God in your actions.  It is when you believe that there’s nothing more that you can do to improve how you do your work that there is less humility in your way of thinking and there is more self-centeredness in your approach to life.  The person who yields to the Spirit in everything that they do will conform and act according to the Spirit.  If you are seeking the best in everything you do for the Lord, you are open to learn and grow for God’s glory.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your activities to the LORD, 
and your plans will be achieved.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Your good works will glorify God as you seek excellence in everything that you do.  If we always remember that God wants not only the best for us but also for each of us to be the best that we can be, we will glorify God in everything that we do.  Our best for Him comes through the realization that He loves us.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

God Provides Comfort in the Midst of Uncertainty

09/25/2011 § Leave a comment

Except for some tweets and posts on the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church blog, I’ve been quiet on my own blog pages for a little while.  It’s been a busy summer—busier than I can remember for the summer months—and my wife and I were overdue for a break for a couple of weekends in September.  With the break, there was time to reflect on the blessings that my wife, my family and I have, and how God has been more than evident in His presence in our lives.

It has become more evident that change is, more than ever, a prominent part of life.  There has been unexpected change at my workplace (new boss), my wife’s workplace (yep, new boss), and at church (an elder resignation).  Even with all of this, there is still cause for praise and worship for how God has given us the grace and ability to manage all of the changes and the surprising events. When my wife and I have talked about this, we readily agree that we don’t care much for change, let alone sudden ones.  While we’re both thankful to be working and making a living, the changes are still unsettling and can be downright stressful!  It’s often necessary for us to bring our work home and use “downtime” to still be productive and keep pace with everything that comes our way.

With everything moving so quickly, I have discovered that we need to remain continually focused on God and His Word every day, and remain open to the words and direction of the Holy Spirit everywhere we go, whether it is at work or in the car or at the grocery store.  In fact, there is not a moment when we should feel comfortable without the input of the Holy Spirit, especially when things seem to be going well (Psalm 51:11).

When circumstances have taken place that you don’t always understand right away, it is always best to trust God for direction when you are unsure of your response (Psalm 3:5-6, 56:3-4).  He is our comfort in the midst of uncertainty.

Love Languages For Your Life

04/11/2011 § Leave a comment

The following is the text of the two-day seminar presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on April 8-9, 2011.  The material is based upon the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Dr. Gary Chapman, © 1992, Northfield Publishing, Chicago IL.

 

Welcome to Spring Break 2011 and another installment of the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church Relationship Conference Series.  We are now in our fourth year of the series and our sixth seminar where we study and discuss everyday interpersonal relationships with a biblical perspective.  This is a unique approach to relationships that go beyond the how-to and advice books as we rely upon God’s Word to extrapolate how relationships form, develop, and change within our life experiences.

In the past we have discussed relationships from an interpersonal standpoint, including those with relatives, friends, co-workers, and, of course, a loving, healthy relationship with God and even how you value yourself.  We have focused on marital relationships and explored the importance of knowing your spouse as your marriage grows.  We have even discussed the difficulties of being in relationships with those that you love that are often unlovable.  Topics of divorce and remarriage have been discussed.  Yes, we covered a lot of ground, and there is much more to explore with our present look at love in action.

Love is a word that no one ever gets tired of talking about.  It has a miraculous resonance to it because of how it can dramatically change the lives of the people who experience it.  We should be thankful for the importance of love that God has always emphasized in his Word, and the responsibility that He gives to each of us in the role of love in how we interact with others.

It begins with how God demonstrates His love for us and that it is timeless and beyond measure:

Psalm 136:1-9

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.  His love is eternal.

Give thanks to the God of gods.  His love is eternal.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords.  His love is eternal.

He alone does great wonders.  His love is eternal.

He made the heavens skillfully.  His love is eternal.

He spread the land on the waters.  His love is eternal.

He made the great lights:  His love is eternal.

The sun to rule by day, His love is eternal.

The moon and stars to rule by night. His love is eternal.

John 3:16-17

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

He also gives us insight into the characteristics of love in its practice.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.  But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Leviticus 19:18

Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.

With all of these examples that we have of love, why is it that it can be so difficult to communicate this love to others?  In addition, why do we sometimes have difficulty with understanding those same gestures of love that are directed towards us?  For your consideration, the simple answer to these questions is that we also sometimes struggle with the degree and measure of love that God has for us, let alone that of the love that we give to others and that we receive from others.  Love indeed is patient and kind, and can also be confusing if you don’t understand its delivery methods very well.  For example, we do not understand God’s love for us without the information provided to us by the Holy Spirit.  Without that information, we would need an interpreter just as we cannot interpret the meaning of Scripture without the wisdom of the Spirit to help.  In the same way, we sometimes need an interpreter to provide us with information about the linguistics of love communication.

This seminar will look at the languages of love as identified by the author of the best selling book, The Five Love Languages—How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Dr. Gary Chapman.  Dr. Chapman’s book was written in 1992 and became a best seller with additional books that grew out of the original, including those that expanded the love languages beyond the marital couple relationship.  This is important in that love languages are spoken on a daily basis between individuals who are not necessarily married.  They are spoken between a parent and a child, a brother and a sister, and even between friends and co-workers.  This communication is easily recognizable in many different interpersonal relationships, but only if you are conscious of them and are looking for them.  It is essential to learn about these love languages if you are interested in the healthy development of a relationship.

Love languages are relevant to each and every one of us for one simple reason…each of us has sensory capabilities, and we all respond to stimulus through our senses.  Can you note what your five senses are?  Sight…hearing…taste…touch and smell!  It is how we receive all of our communication, whether it is verbal or non-verbal; as a result, it is little wonder that we are responsive to love linguistics because of how it affects our overall communication efforts.

Each of us knows when there is good, effective communication between two persons (and not just between married couples)—between people that are friends with you or even your co-workers.  Words to describe effective communication do not necessarily mean that you are in agreement with someone else.  Effective communication is when both parties receive information that accurately represents the viewpoints of the other person.  Effective communication does not necessarily mean that you are like-minded in your way of thinking.  This is a misconception of effective communication.  There are times when two people will have to agree to disagree, but that doesn’t mean that the communication was erroneous or ineffective.  Ineffective communication is when there is a misunderstanding by one party of the other party’s intent, or it can also be ineffective if the person communicating information does not do so clearly enough for the other person to understand.  You can see that, with all of the opportunities for miscommunication, the practice of effective communication requires just that—practice.  It sometimes requires a little extra effort to make sure that effective communication is taking place between two or more people.

Can any of you think of situations where communication was ineffective between you and someone else, or scenarios where the best of intentions for one person to communicate with another person backfired?

What we want you to discover about the love languages is that they are unique to the individual in the same way that each of us have unique personality traits.  One person’s love language may not be applicable to another person.  Some persons may have only one primary love language, while others may have more than one (but usually not more than two or three would be considered primary).  The key to successful interpersonal relationships is to know how to identify love languages, and how to use your “love in action” by giving and receiving through these expressions of love.

Love is More Than a Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

The word “love” is used very freely today, and while it has a primary definition, it can mean different things to different people.  While most people understand love as having a strong attraction and connection to another person, we also know that love is evident with actions that support it, in much the same way that a person’s faith in Jesus Christ is most evident by a person’s actions that support such faith.  You’ve heard the expression, “If you love me, then show me…” Our discussions will show that love is far more than an emotional connection.  Just as an engine will fail to run without the sparks from a spark plug firing the gasoline within, the emotion of love will eventually burn out without the sparks of love in action within a relationship.

Love is profoundly more than a physical attraction, and much more than that feeling when you first fell in love, even the love for a spouse.  The evidence over many relationships suggests that there is much more to the initial warm, gushy, mind-wandering experience of falling in love.  In fact, after the gushiness wears off, love now requires a shift in one’s thinking and one’s attitude.  The love is now expressed with a series of actions that will actually enhance the love relationship into one that is nurtured and grown through a series of actions.

This love in action is best demonstrated by the love of God in action:

1 Corinthians 16:14

Your every action must be done with love.

1 John 3:16-17

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him?

Job 10:12

You gave me life and faithful love, and Your care has guarded my life.

With these verses in mind, we will spend our time looking at specific actions within a relationship that we will characterize as love languages.  To recognize these love languages requires becoming adept at what I will call love linguistics.  You need to be able to speak the language of love languages, and familiarity with these languages will increase your love linguistics.  Before we explore these languages, let’s start with an important factor that needs to be present to allow for the exchange of love languages.

Love Requires Humility

In order to communicate effectively in love linguistics, you must be humble.  Humility is the key to an open relationship, whether you are single or married, or whether you are developing a friendship or a work relationship.  It is the key to being an effective communicator in any language, let along a love language, because you have to be willing to listen.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.

James 4:6

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

To be an effective communicator, you must be willing to stop whatever you are doing, set it aside for a moment, and listen to the person who is communicating with you.  In the same way, effective communication requires a degree of thought that must go into the process.  In both instances, you must give consideration to the other person, whether receiving or giving the communication.  You will also find yourself to be more sensitive to the other person’s needs if you act in humility.  Listening to the other person is effective communication and it requires a humble spirit.  It sets the stage for the effective exchange of love languages between people.

We must be careful, however, to not confuse humility with feeling good.  There will be times when you will not feel your best, and yet you will still need to communicate in such a way where the recipient will not receive the brunt of your bad feelings.  This is also an act of humility, because you are putting your feelings aside in order to make sure that your language is not affected by how you are feeling.  It’s not easy to do, but it is necessary to communicate at your best even when you are not feeling your best.  In summary, humility is the underlying element to being an effective love linguist.

Speaking the Same Love Language is Not Required

In order to understand a person who is speaking Spanish or French, you need to know that language.  In the same way, a person who does not speak English will have a difficult time interpreting what you or I would be saying.  As far as love languages are concerned, the great thing about knowing your love language or the love language of your spouse, friend or peer is that you do not need to speak the same language.  You only need to be aware of the other person’s love language to be an effective love linguist.  Once you are aware of the other person’s language, you can speak very clearly to the other person in ways that words alone would pale in comparison.

The Love Languages

Dr. Chapman’s books all focused on five different methods of communication for married couples, family members, and friends.  The languages are all based upon the personalities of the persons involved, and all of these are relatively simple to understand and simple to implement once they are recognized.

Acts of Service

You would not immediately think that acts of service is anything special in communicating a love language to someone else, but you need to consider the personality of the individual who relishes when someone shows their love for them with this act of self-sacrifice.  Consider that you live with someone who likes to keep a neat house or makes a fuss over keeping things clean.  Doing something as simple as offering to take out the trash or vacuum the rug for this person would be a huge gesture on your part, and it would show one very important thing…that you care enough about what that person cares about.  It’s huge.

1 John 3:18

Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.

1 Peter 4:10

Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.

The opposite of this love language, which is essentially an affront to the person who assumes responsibilities, is to be lazy and inattentive to the helper’s personality, and also practice being forgetful or non-committal to fulfilling promises to help out in this area.  This type of behavior is especially disturbing to the hard-working person, and will certainly throw cold water on a relationship (and not in a refreshing way!).

The person who appreciates acts of service is usually someone who is also very active in their efforts to keep things in order.  The potential issue that an active person has is that he or she will have moments where they may become fatigued and a little frustrated over their efforts to keep their house clean.  If the person you care about has this type of personality (obsession) (laugh), you may sometimes be caught in a difficult situation.  The person who enjoys keeping house should not give you the same compulsion to keep a clean house in order to please the other person.  In fact, that is a very uncomfortable situation, and you may be altering your own personality to meet the other person’s helping gifts.  That is not speaking the other person’s love language.  It would only create tension and it could have a negative effect on your effort to communicate with the other person.  In reality, the Acts of Service love language is not a 50-50 tradeoff of helping each other.  Remember, the act of speaking the same language is not a requirement for communication.  There may never be “equality” in duties performed, for example, between a husband and wife.  The wife may adore her husband for making a “contribution” to the household, such as vacuuming, washing dishes, or cleaning the bathroom.  His willingness to help out is a major boost to her well-being because she believes he cares enough to lend a hand.  It is his selfless acts that show his love and concern for her.

Let’s take this language of Acts of Service and make a note of some examples that are applicable to married couples, friendships, and in the workplace.  Please write down the scenarios and, while doing this, think about some of the things that come to mind where you can see opportunities to nurture such a language within your own relationship.

Receiving Gifts

In the same area of love communication as acts of service is the love language of receiving gifts is reflective of making gestures that support your love for the other person.  Notice that this is not the effort of “giving gifts,” which diminishes the nature of the language.  The receiving of gifts is the response that you give to the person who gives you the gift.  The gift is not about its value and how you respond—for example, if my wife were to give me a brand new convertible for my birthday or for Christmas, I would be very, very grateful.  Anyone would be, in fact, ecstatic over such a gift.  It’s easy to be appreciative if you saw a new car in your driveway with a bow on it.  It’s entirely different, however, when you receive a gift that is much smaller and not as costly.  There is a clear difference between the two, but we need to remove the monetary and material aspect of receiving gifts in order to best understand the language.

Do you remember a time when you received an unexpected gift or a surprise gift?  Think beyond a physical gift, please.  The actual gift may have been flowers or a tin of candy or even a small Care Bear that fits your personality.  Consider the emotional response of receiving such a gift because of its timing or because of the level of thought that went into it.  It was a special gift not because of its material value, but because it was something of a much greater value, and it required careful thought and consideration from the gift giver.  It speaks of the love, care, and thoughtfulness being directed to you by the other person.  If you know someone who loves surprises like this, you can appreciate how they would be extremely happy to receive even the smallest gifts.  The gift may even be in line with the other love language pertaining to acts of service.  Maybe your surprise gift for your wife is to cook her breakfast, clean the bathrooms, and offer to get maid service for a day (or maybe none of those things if she feels compelled to clean the house before the maid arrives, and if you really can’t cook—but I think you get the idea).

In contrast, there is a negative effect that one can have on a person whose love language is receiving gifts if you flat out forget about your friend’s or spouse’s birthday or your anniversary, or if you come up with a gift that did not require a lot of thought.  This can have the opposite effect of giving a well-thought out gift, and reflect that you do not value the relationship as much as you say you do.  Even a lack of everyday gestures of love has a negative effect on the person who appreciates gifts.  The occasional gifts can be undermined by an ongoing attitude of selfish behavior over time.

Even if receiving gifts is not a primary love language, we need only to refer to Scripture to see the proper attitude that the gift giver should have—a heart of generosity:

2 Corinthians 9:6-13

Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written:  He has scattered; He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness, as you are enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.  Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.

Take a moment and think about situations where you can recall giving or receiving a gift, and why you still remember the incident.  What made it special?

Quality Time

If you value a relationship with a person, you will need to devote quality time to it.

Relationships will not effectively grow without quality time.

A biblical reference to quality time is the exchange between Martha and Jesus and how the busyness of life can swallow up the things that are most important, especially your relationship with Jesus Christ:

Luke 10:38-42

While they were traveling, He (Jesus) entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”  The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

As evidenced by Martha’s experience, quality time may be the most difficult one to practice and achieve, and while we are not ranking these in order of importance, it really is very important in its execution, and it is extremely important to the person where quality time is a primary love language.  Quality time is more than just saying, “let’s take a vacation.”  In fact, it does not require taking a vacation in order to experience it, although a vacation is a possible by-product of a high level of quality time.  Quality time, for the love linguist, means that the other person is important enough for you to stop what you are doing, look into the eyes of the other person, and express your love in such a way where there is no misunderstanding as to how much you love and care for the other person.  The act of stopping what you are doing will sidetrack some people, while stopping what you are doing and looking the other person in the eye will absolutely derail others, until we get to the remainder of the population who will stop, look, and express their feelings.  After that, there’s hardly anyone left.

Quality time, according to Dr. Chapman, means really being available for the other person—with the TV off, dinner over and done with, and while not occupied with anything else except your spouse.  As busy as we can be, this is very difficult to do—it requires practice for many of us.  The truth is that the person who values quality time can feel very neglected if there is not a sincere effort to spend time with that person by his or her spouse.  The time spent makes him or her feel loved and feel special.  Ongoing distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be very hurtful.

Let’s define what quality time is.  Quality time is time spent outside of the normal hustle and bustle of a couple’s day-to-day relationship.  Quality time is NOT doing something that you want to do and dragging the other person along with you.  It is not hanging out at a sports bar with the guys and coaxing your friend or spouse along if they don’t drink and dislike sports!  Quality time is not going from place to place to shop for clothes and shoes while your spouse or friend is wandering with you like a lost child looking for a parent.  There needs to be a mutual understanding of what quality time is, and then making plans that surround that quality time if it is not possible for you to make the effort to stop your regular routine.

One of our bad habits today is being engrossed with our telephones, and I have lost count of the number of times that I have talked to my boss or someone else who is looking not at me, but at their phone because of an email buzzing them and having an obsession with the next important message.  Isn’t it annoying to be virtually ignored or to play second fiddle to a Blackberry?  Well, if this annoys you to no end, imagine how this would feel to a person who needs to have a few moments of your attention just to express how his or her day is going, and you don’t slow yourself down long enough to take a listen or show your concern?  This is a critical form of selfless communication that must be carried out for the recipient in order for you to show that, above anything and everything else going on in your life, the other person is most important.

Quality time, in summary, is giving your loved one undivided attention.  Remember when you were first dating your future husband or wife and when you hung on every word, and even when you would talk on the phone for hours into the night and early morning hours until you thought that the phone in your hand and on your face would ignite from the heat and from the fire of your relationship?  How long ago was that?  Remember how the newness of the relationship can now be affected negatively by the busyness of life.  A person who values quality time will easily be inspired by moments between the two of you where everything slows down to a stop, and where you both can have a good, eye-to-eye conversation.

Can you think of examples of quality time that you had to undertake just to force yourself to stop and hear what your friend or spouse had to say?  Did you find yourself doing these things on your own, or did you need to be prompted because of an unfortunate event?

Words of Affirmation

Is there anyone that does not appreciate kind words?  No one would ever refuse to listen to another person’s kindness express in words to them.  We can easily reason that no one wants to hear words that are unkind within the course of a conversation, or even if they are expressed to us without warning.

What this means is that words are very powerful.  They can have a tremendous amount of influence in our lives, especially in those moments where there is some sort of an emotional connection involved.  The actual words, by themselves, have less of an impact, for example, if they come from strangers.  You may not like, for example, if a person expresses displeasure with you because they perceived that you cut the person off in traffic.  After the initial shock of what is said to you, it is likely that you can carry on with your day without it being ruined.  If the hurtful words, however, come from someone whom you have an emotional attachment to, the words used can have a lasting effect on you because they cause a degree of emotional damage when they are expressed.  Kind words, on the other hand, are powerful and make an impact for the good of the relationship.

Words of affirmation, in a married relationship, for example, are the additional words that support the words, “I love you.”  Just as a couple can say “I love you” only so many times before there needs to be actions to support that love, words of affirmation provide information to the recipient that supports the underlying statement or declaration of “I love you.”

Before going further, it’s important to define what I mean in having an “emotional attachment” to another person in order to best understand the concept of words of affirmation as a love language.  An emotional attachment can be either a good relationship with a person or a not-so-good relationship.  For example, a parent-child relationship can be a strong, loving bond, or it can be a disastrous relationship because of the lack of affirmation that a child receives from the parent.  The same is true within a marriage, where there is an understandable emotional attachment that begins with courtship, the ceremony, and the aftermath.  Unfortunately, there are marriages that become stale over time because what began as an emotional connection may have changed for one or both parties in the marriage, and there is less and less spoken that will affirm one or the other person.  The emotional attachment is still there because of the relationship, but the emotion itself can be altogether lost if there was nothing in place to reinforce the original bond.

Words of affirmation are one of the most important love languages for those persons who need to be reminded of their value within the relationship.  This is more than just a self-confidence booster or a vain expression of platitudes.  The words must match up with the feelings of the persons involved.  It is a very important part of communication, and I contend that even if this is not your primary love language, you should practice the use of words of affirmation.  Words of affirmation, or encouraging words, help to eliminate potential misunderstandings that can exist between two people in a relationship.  This is a situation where the more positive you can be about a person (even if their overall behavior is not necessarily the best at a given moment), the better the communication.  It will take you through those moments of difficulty and pave the way for effective communication and expression of feelings in the long run.

A person who takes out the trash, works hard every day to provide for the family, or even cleans the bathroom should be affirmed with words that express appreciation for what the person does and for what they value.  It’s one thing to do these things, as well as other tasks, and not receive any comments for their efforts, but it is entirely another thing to be affirmed that what is being done indeed has a value to the other person in the relationship.  It is recognition of the character traits of the person in words to support their actions.  It is a way to let another person know that who they are and what they do is important to you.  With that said, sometimes we will fail to express words of affirmation to the other person because (a) the person does something that is important to him or her for the good of the relationship but you do not believe it to be as important to it, or (b) because you are unhappy with the person for some reason and you don’t want to contradict your unhappiness with kind words.  Sometimes, it is this unhappiness that unleashes criticism of the other person’s behaviors at its highest level.

Before proceeding, here is a Scriptural reference to how powerful unkind words can be if they are not controlled:

James 3:6-9

And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.  For every creature—animal or bird, reptile or fish—is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness.

The power of the words you use can either motivate a person in love or will repel a person if the words are counter-productive in the relationship.  As an example, let’s assume that a wife wants her husband to paint the bedroom.  The husband has determined that he either does not like painting or does not want to paint the bedroom.  This is a conflict that can go the wrong way very quickly without some thoughtful intervention.  A husband will perceive a wife’s prompts to paint the bedroom as nagging if all he ever hears is “Will you paint the bedroom this weekend, PLEASE?”  Even if you say please, it still sounds like nagging if that is all he ever hears about for the past eighteen weeks.  Words of affirmation are not to be used as a form of manipulation, but if the husband is affirmed by all of the things that he does, and does well, there is room for discussion about those things that he does not do very well or does not like to do.  How would you approach this situation?  What would you say to encourage the husband to paint the bedroom?

As you can see, words of affirmation for the other person are not to be used to get something done for the sake of accomplishing your goals…remember; a relationship is a team effort.  You want the other person to feel sincerely valued and appreciated, so that they are willing to tackle projects, meet goals, and accomplish things that have a mutual benefit to the relationship.  The words are used for encouragement—not manipulation.  Manipulation only goes so far.  The recipient will know beyond the shadow of doubt that what you say cannot be trusted if it is only to get things done that you want to do.  It’s the fastest path to shutting down effective communication.

Words of affirmation are powerful for the person most sensitive to this love language.  They have the ability to positively affect other areas within the relationship because of the emotional connection involved.  They are like sparks around a flame, especially at the right time.  The positive words can offset the person who had a bad day at the office or the person who is going through difficulty.

Let’s come up with some examples of words of affirmation that we can express to our spouse, or to a friend or other family member.

Physical Touch

The love language of physical touch is not simply of a sexual nature. For example, if you were to ask a man what his primary love language is, he would usually blurt out PHYSICAL TOUCH, of course, because men are sexually wired in this way.  While it is impossible to ignore that different degrees of touching have to occur during sex, this does not automatically default to being a person’s primary love language.

Many greetings or acknowledgements that we experience are usually associated with physical contact, and the vast majority of people respond favorably when it is received.  A handshake, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a high five, or even a chest bump (men only, of course) are examples of physical contact that are associated with greetings or feelings of celebration.  These are all acceptable forms of communication.  When examining the love language of physical touch, the person whose primary language is physical touch is generally more responsive to the physical contact that is received in conjunction with either verbal and/or non-verbal communication.  In fact, physical touch and words of affirmation may rank very highly together as love languages for the same individual because of that person’s sensitivity to all types of communication.

In more intimate relationships, the person sensitive to touch is highly receptive and responsive to sensations such as a kind hand to the arm or shoulder, or an arm around the waist, and even holding hands while walking or standing quietly.  All of these more intimate gestures reflect a sense of excitement, comfort, care, concern, and love, depending upon the circumstance or situation.  The level of comfort between the two persons that participate in physical touch is important because such actions would be perceived as strange and unwanted in relationships that are, for example, more professional or friend-like than personal.  Physical touch does have rather distinct boundaries associated with the type of relationship.

Physical touch is a wonderful love language that expresses love between two people.  All physical contact, however, is not good, especially when it is characterized as physical abuse.  It is not hard to understand why physical abuse is so destructive in a relationship.  In the same way that positive physical contact has an emotional connection and a bond between its participants, the physical abuse also has a profound emotional effect on the recipient of the abuse.  Neglect is another form of abuse, except it is non-physical in nature.  The neglect of a person who relishes in positive physical touch is also emotionally, and even psychologically damaging.  This will typically occur in relationships where two people are communicating poorly or hardly at all, especially if one of the persons involved is often away from home.

In a relationship where there has been emotional damage, there must be guarded physical contact between the persons involved.  Physical gestures such as hugging or touches on the arm or hand are not received in the same way when the recipient is damaged emotionally.  While physical touch may still be the person’s primary love language, the emotional baggage that has accumulated over time may overwhelm the welcome tactile sensation of touch.  It will take a lot of time and effort to heal and recover through such a period, and it will require patience of both persons involved in the recovery.

You can see how physical touch has a profound effect on the emotional health of a relationship.  As we noted earlier, we are all sensory people and we respond to physical touch in different ways that are inherent to our individual personalities.  Take the time now to recall instances where a reassuring hand or a hug were very timely, or make notes as to what you are most responsive to when it comes to physical touch.

Conclusion

Now that you have a greater appreciation for the love languages and their role in interpersonal relationships, we hope that you will be mindful of how we can sometimes speak different love languages, but we can still be multilingual in our communication with our loved ones if we are sensitive to their needs.  It requires a sense of love and selfless behavior to be an effective communicator, and that love will last well beyond the initial emotional rush of a new relationship.

We hope that you sincerely enjoyed this weekend’s seminar, and we look forward to seeing you down the road!

Thank you!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

No Greater Love

03/30/2010 § 1 Comment

Good Friday is a sacred day for Christians as we contemplate the depth and breadth of when Jesus died on the cross.  It is an event that we sometimes need to give greater attention as it is not a holiday in the sense of taking the day off of work, but it truly is a holy day.

The events of this day make up what we refer to as Good Friday, a day that, on the surface, seems to be the definition of anything but “good,” but in reality, the death and burial of Jesus Christ is the beginning of the events that brought about the opportunity for each and every one of us to experience eternal life.  It is all about the measure of God’s goodness in that He felt that we were worth the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

First, we are to understand that Jesus’ death was far from an accident.  While at first glance Jesus’ death was the result of a mob of angry dissenters bent on His destruction, it was actually part of God’s plan for eternal life for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.  Remember that Peter tried to defend Jesus when He was about to be captured, but Jesus responded in Matthew 26:53-54—

Matthew 26:53-54

Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Consider that Jesus spoke these very words in John 17:1-5:

John 17:1-5

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You, for You gave Him authority over all flesh; so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him. This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ. I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.”

John 17:24

“Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.”

Jesus was to complete the work that was planned all along on this sacred day with His death on the cross.  It is clear that Jesus is speaking from the timeframe of BEFORE the occupation of man populating the earth, which means that we were part of the plan for salvation before Adam and Eve existed!

One cannot begin to measure the magnitude of what Jesus’ death on the cross involves except to conclude that His death on the cross was an act of benevolence and eternal love.  His act of love was an act of obedience to His Heavenly Father, and His love for the Father also transcends to love for each and every one of us.  Listen to these words in John chapter 15 that speak of this love for us a deep, sincere friendship that is born out of obedience to the words of His Father:

John 15:9-17

“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another.”

John 17:26

“I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.”

The love of Jesus is a love that is far from the sadness that one would experience from a lack of understanding of what actually happened to Jesus on Good Friday—the love of Jesus for us should bring about a true joy in our understanding of Him and of our growing relationship with Him.  Without His death on the cross, we would not have the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised for us to live within us.  Without His death He could not demonstrate to the world’s believers the ability to overcome death by rising from the dead.  All of these things were part of the plan of God for all of us, and they were done out of love.  Even when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He asked His father to forgive those involved for their sin, because He loved them.  True love is to forgive even when you have been hurt.

Do you see the lessons that Jesus gives us on Good Friday?

  • Keeping promises
  • Sacrifice
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Joy

We do not have to wait until Easter Sunday to experience the joy of a risen Savior.  We can experience joy today in that Christ paid for our sins by dying on the cross one time that sacred day, and we believe in Him and will have life ever after with Him because of His amazing love.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

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