The must-have ingredient for a healthy marriage

amazing-grace-chalkboard-dearlillie-500x380

Graphic by Dear Lillie

Justin Davis:

When grace is missing from a marriage, three words dominate that relationship:

You. Owe. Me.

A lack of grace will cause a husband to be furious with his wife for going to a different gas station than he went to [making him late for a meeting]. A lack of grace will cause a wife to notice all that her husband does wrong and not see all he does right….

If you want to see change and improvement in your marriage, take a few minutes this week to think about how messed up and imperfect you are — and how God loves you anyway. That is grace….

Grace is the starting point from which all change is made.

.

– See the original post: One Thing That Changes Every Marriage.

– Graphic by Dear Lillie; cropped from the original. Original available for download at the Dear Lillie Shop.

Advertisements

Are you a billboard, or an ear?

cafe-conversation-overhead-view-610x380

I don’t usually write commentary, but I think between the media storm this week and Christmas gatherings upon us, this needs to be said.

To my brothers and sisters who follow Jesus: please bear this in mind as you gather with family and friends this week. Before you engage in an emotionally charged discussion of politics or morals, ask yourself:

1. Am I placing more emphasis on being right, or on building a trusting relationship, where my thoughts and feelings are welcomed, not feared or resented?

2. Is my true goal here to faithfully represent the truth AND grace of God — or is my true goal to show how excellent my arguments are and leave my hearers speechless?

3. Can I do this whole conversation with a gentle/humble tone of voice, facial expression, and body language?

If your answers give you pause, you might want to just excuse yourself from the conversation. That’s right: just walk away without expressing your opinion! If you can’t do that, this might be a clue that it is your pride — not God’s reputation — that’s at stake. God can defend himself, thank you very much. If you find that you’re just in it to win it, you really just need to walk away. (Preaching to myself here, too.)

A comment from an atheist on blog I read today said,

I want to know and see that the messenger lives in the good of his message. . . better yet when the messenger is the message. People who are the real deal speak better and deeper than billboards and bumper stickers. I can walk with people who are genuine, and even if we don’t agree, we come away better.

Winn Collier says:

What if, before we heralded our answers to every moral quandary, we asked questions about a person’s story, about what they hope for, what they are afraid of and what they most desire? Dallas Willard… when asked how a Christian should converse with others on dicey ethical issues, said, “I wouldn’t start with the rightness or wrongness. First, I’d be curious.” Would the world view the church differently if we owned the reputation as people who were authentically curious, who hoped to turn every stranger into a friend?

So don’t just be a billboard; don’t just be one-way communication; engage in an exchange. And if you are going to engage, before moving to your stance on a matter, ask your hearers some gentle, curious, questions; in a concerned way, not defensively — or worse — offensively. Questions such as, “What do you think?” “How did you come to believe this?” “Why does this matter to you, or why are you so passionate about it?”

And before you respond, check the above list again.

Apply. Rinse. Repeat.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18

For the blog post whose comment was quoted above, see this post (if you can stomach the billboard it refers to): http://brandonchase.net/2013/12/16/to-all-of-our-atheist-friends/

For the full article by Winn Collier: http://conversationsjournal.com/2012/03/a-curious-jesus/

.

Image: MyDigitalSLR via photopin cc

Ask more questions

ask-questions-first-500x700

Author Winn Collier says:

What if, before we heralded our answers to every moral quandary, we asked questions about a person’s story, about what they hope for, what they are afraid of and what they most desire? Dallas Willard… when asked how a Christian should converse with others on dicey ethical issues, said, “I wouldn’t start with the rightness or wrongness. First, I’d be curious.” Would the world view the church differently if we owned the reputation as people who were authentically curious, who hoped to turn every stranger into a friend?”

For the full article: A Curious Jesus

Why slow thinkers are better thinkers

girl-overlooking-greece-610x420

…and why getting away from the crowd — even/especially the virtual one — matters:

Essayist William Deresiewicz, from a lecture delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009.

“I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that [second] idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

“Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts…. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice.

Leadership means finding a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward the cliff.

“Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask…..

“This is what we call thinking out loud, discovering what you believe in the course of articulating it. But it takes just as much time and just as much patience as solitude in the strict sense. And our new electronic world has disrupted it just as violently. Instead of having one or two true friends that we can sit and talk to for three hours at a time, we have 968 ‘friends’ that we never actually talk to; instead we just bounce one-line messages off them a hundred times a day. This is not friendship, this is distraction.”

The original article, posted as “Solitude and Leadership” on The American Scholar.