Category Archives: community

Fostering Positive Relationships

If we are at peace with God and ourselves, we have a great foundation for fostering healthy relationships. The principles here apply to every type of relationship, from family dynamics with our spouses and children to lifelong and new friendships, colleagues at work and all other social dynamics.

Before enumerating positive insights, there are three boundaries that will help ensure that sacrificial love does not become self-destructive.

  • One: Serving those that cannot return the favor is the height of agape of love; however, such service must never be at the expense of the dignity and integrity of our God-designed being and purpose. Put another way, biblical self-denial (good when we surrender our selfishness) is not personal self-destruction.
  • Two: We must forgive readily without excusing real transgressions or pretending the traumas did not occur. Forgiveness is powerful because we are desiring the best for another who sinned against God, us and others. We must not keep a “rap sheet” of grievances against others or ourselves.
  • Three: There is no merit in unwise vulnerability that leads to abuse and co-dependence. Psalm 16:6 declares that God puts boundaries in pleasant places. This reference to property lines works for our souls as well. Minor irritations are one thing; constant emotional rejection and subjugation is not something we must willfully engage.

Four positive insights will help guide healthy relationships – and love wisely expressed is the mark of the followers of Jesus.

  • One: Release unhealthy expectations and learn to receive whatever others can give. When we stop our “emotional accounting” and choose the good of others over our own momentary feelings, life becomes richer.
  • If married, enjoy God together and discover the shared mission/purpose of your marriage and your family (when and if children are part of household). If you cultivate a rich inner life and can connect your daily activities with divine callings, then issues of communication, romance and economics are faced and conquered together.
  • In the world of work, decide ahead of time that your advancement will never come at the expense of integrity and fair treatment of others. Diligence, honesty, teamwork and genuine concern for others may cost you occasional promotions, but your opportunities for influence will grow and sleeping at night is a good thing!
  • Self-care is not selfish. Proper diet and exercise, time for solitude, boundaries with hurting and selfish folks (while serving them) and replenishment in the presence of God and his Creation help us serve others. There is no glory in unnecessary burnout.

Integrating the spiritual, emotional and relational dimensions of life requires clarity and focus, some emotional discipline and, above all, love and humility. Adulthood is more about discipline than income and maturity is expressed in the unselfish quality of our interactions more than information acquisition or positional attainment. Let enjoy growing up!

A Flourishing Life

When I walk into the one of the few regular bookstores still standing, I am arrested by the large self-improvement sections dominating the non-fiction landscape. From physical health (do we need one more diet and exercise book?) to emotional-relational well-being (do these authors all recycle the same principles?) to sexual satisfaction and business success (you get have it all!), we are awash in advice.

Yet. A variety of surveys reveal deep dissatisfaction with everyday work, unhappy marriages and disillusionment with civic, political and religious institutions. We have more data and information, more resources and support groups, more ways of improving ourselves…yet we still find high addiction and divorce rates, static church attendance and deep anger at the political process.

Answers to these challenges begins with vision. What does it mean for a person, a community, a nation to flourish? What does health look like? We need some understanding of the outcomes of our actions to shape our attitudes and behaviors.

As we begin a new year, the January essays on this site will offer insights into, “A Flourishing Life.” We will explore five dimensions of human wholeness that encompass the spiritual, personal, relational, vocational and occupational facets of everyday life. If you are ready for serious assessment and change, go to www.discipleshipdynamics.com and take the first biblically grounded and empirically validates whole life assessment and begin your new future today!

Flourishing begins with faith

If you are determined to reject the notion of a divine being, please stop reading. All the insights that follow rest on the foundation of humility arising from genuine belief in an Infinite-Personal God who created us with purpose and cares deeply about our daily lives. This God is fully known in Jesus Christ and longs for intimacy with us.

The First Dimension of wholeness begins with our spirituality. This is not a vague notion of “the force” or the illusory and impersonal world new ages concepts. The spiritual life begins and ends with humble submission to the Creator and Redeemer who designed us and desires to dwell in and with us.

Jesus said that all the Scriptures are summed up in one Great Commandment: to love God with all our being…and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love God, we will participate in the pathways he has designed for intimacy and integrity, healthy and holiness. Prayer and Bible reading, church attendance and times of solitude are not ends in themselves, but divine resources for flourishing! Sharing our faith is the overflow of enjoying God, not an obligation to impose religious strictures.

As we begin this flourishing journey, let’s start this new year with simple disciplines that increase our awareness of Christ’s presence and awaken us to the Holy Spirit’s guidance each moment of our busy day. Start with small steps: a few moments of prayer, with gratitude and requests, praises and longings for others. Open the Bible in the Book of Psalms and read one each day, finding a verse to sustain you. Gather with other believers for mutual support. Find some moments of solitude. Let someone know you are a follower of Jesus and invite them to join your quest for growth.

All other Dimensions of wholeness flow from this foundation of receiving and releasing God’s love. Our humility will open doors of destiny as we listen to God each day.

A Word for Mr. Trump

Dear Donald Trump,
I pen these words with prayers for you and our nation.

You have caused quite a stir.

But unsettling the political landscape is not statesmanship.

For some you are the key to our nation’s survival.
Others see a narcissist running a new reality show.

I think you are – like all people – beautiful and broken – gifted and selfish, concerned about country and struggling with character.

Many share your concerns on immigration and jobs, national security and terrorism, inefficient government and insecurity about America’s future.

I know that many of your positions are “opening negotiating positions” especially the ban on Muslim immigration and the wall with Mexico.

But Mr. Trump, character matters. You cannot shout, “crooked Hillary” and not face your own challenges. I call on you to cease personal insults and offer clarity on:

  • Immigration that remains hospitable.
  • Job creation that keeps goods flowing globally.
  • Abortion: will you support the Republican platform?
  • First and Second Amendment liberties.
  • Racial reconciliation – how to we reduce tensions and engender unity?

And there is much more…

I haven’t decided my vote. Frankly, I am dismayed that neither party could do better.

Will you envision a future and demonstrate the ethics necessary for all to flourish or are you merely one more demagogue we must endure?

Stop the insults. Start sharing insights. Come clean on any hidden issues.

And above all, cease boasting about all you will do.
Please articulate what all of us must do for a better future.

I already have a Savior…I am looking for a public servant.