Compromise

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Compromise: A settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.
The result of such a settlement.

Compromises. We make them every single day as we work together to make life easier on everyone. Today, I want to blog about compromises that we should never make because they erode our belief system.

Compromise when talking about your belief system becomes a contagious disease that will ultimately destroy who you are or who you believe yourself to be. One compromise will lead to another and another and pretty soon you will look nothing like you used to. I know most people think it won’t happen to them but it always does when we decide to take this road.

So why do we do it? Why do we compromise our belief system? There are two reasons. One, is that we never really believed that our belief system was valid in the first place. We talked the talk but could not ultimately walk the walk. We thought we believed it but when it came right down to it, the act was more important than the substance of the presupposition.

The second is that we want the person with whom we are compromising, in an unhealthy obsessive way that ends up throwing our own self to the wolves to be devoured. It isn’t a healthy love that causes us to compromise our beliefs, it’s based on a low opinion of ourselves and a desperation and manipulation. Healthy love would never ask you to compromise your belief nor would you want to.

Don’t compromise your belief system. You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. And while we are here, let’s talk about what I mean when I blog statements like don’t compromise. First off, I don’t mean compromising on the color of the couch we are going to buy together once we are married. I am not talking about simple everyday things like learning to live with the fact that your husband likes to sleep with the light on and you like it off. I mean things like followers of Christ who marry unbelievers with the hope that they will attend church one day. I mean allowing someone to mistreat you because you love them, or they love you. I mean dating a married man who says he is miserable and getting a divorce.

Notice that I am writing about things that will alter who you are forever and cause you to sneak around and live in shame and not openly live your life out loud. If you have to keep a part of your life a secret then you are compromising your beliefs. The reason that this is so important is that while the compromise is happening, we lie to ourselves and say, “Okay, I’ll compromise on this one thing but I won’t go any further.” The fact is that we will go further and we do because compromise is a slippery slope. Once we swallow down the bitter pill of the first compromise, the other pills go down a little easier and don’t taste as bad. Pretty soon our compromises have taken us to places we would never have gone and we look nothing like what we and God intended.

Ask yourself a very important question at this point in your reading. Have you compromised your belief system? If so, let me ask you another question. Did the person you compromised for, also compromise their belief system? I would venture to bet dollars to donuts that they did NOT. Remember a compromise is a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions. I would bet that you compromised on the HOPE that they would hold their end of the bargain but believe me, I’ve lived long enough to know I am making a safe bet. They didn’t hold their end of the bargain and never intended to. You were played. Oh, that is so harsh to say but I say it because only truth will set you free.

So that being said, what will you do now? Will go back and get your beliefs back? Or will you stubbornly allow the initial compromise to take you out? You are so worthy of going back and taking inventory and getting your life back! It’s okay to take a positive step forward to look in the mirror and say, “I need a do-over. This isn’t working for me. This has cost me too much.” Compromise, it’s an insidious contagious fungus that will eat up everything in its path. Don’t allow it to devour you.

That Stinks! The Power Of Negativity

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Have you ever been around a person whose attitude just stinks? They are negative all the time and no matter how positive you stay, they have something that can dampen your fire? Their life’s perspective isn’t one of joy but one of impending doom.

What causes them to be negative all the time? I think for some it comes from a feeling that if they think negatively about situations and don’t get their hopes up then they are not disappointed when they don’t get what it is they thought they might. My husband is usually a positive guy but get him ready for vacation or trip of any kind and a couple of days before he begins to get quiet and moody. Why? Because he convinces himself that this vacation is doomed, that it won’t be fun like the others we’ve been on or that something will happen at church to keep us from going. This negative talk keeps him from getting his hopes up in case he is disappointed. Crazy? You bet! However, some people don’t just live moments of their lives this way, they live their whole lives this way.

Have you ever watched the Debbie Downer skits on SNL? Everyone is happy and she has a negative word that eventually brings everyone down. We all know people like this, they are never happy about anything. They have the ability to sober a room with a sentence. I don’t think they intentionally want people to feel down like they do I just don’t think they give it much thought. If you are a person who is easily influenced or bent toward negativity then limit your time in the company of others who share this bent.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Matthew 12:34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

So it seems that the reason negativity in speech exists is that is flowing out of the negative heart of that person. Whether that person was hurt profoundly and now sees the world as harsh, horrible, and out to get them or whether they were born with a negative bent towards life, they are speaking out of what is going on within their own mind.

This helps us to deal with them as you see that their negative talk is not because they want to bring us down, rather it’s a byproduct of what is going on within them. Can you imagine how utterly sad to live your life always thinking something bad is going to happen? To see life as negative and that there is nothing to look forward to? Life is so great, even in the hard times, that I can’t imagine not having the faith that things will get better as the general thought process of life and that there is something better right around the corner for me. Yet, for the negative person, that something better isn’t coming because even if it’s a blessing there is a failure to recognize it because they are only looking for the negative and they miss the positive.

Then there are those for whom if they conceded that this was good, whatever “this” happened to be in their life would be to miss out on the next greater thing. For them it’s a process of not wanting to settle and instead missing it all. For these people they have never been able to find contentment in their own soul. Can you imagine a life where the good in it was always missed as you waited for the next best thing? That is a tragedy. Does this not break your heart? They live their lives in a way that the great parts of life will be missed because they are looking down the road not to see the positive but to catch the negative.

So the next time you are in the presence of the Debbie Downer in your life, take a moment to point out the positive. Refuse to go down the trail of negativity with them. Refuse to let them get you down. Refuse to accept their negative word over your situation. Begin to speak life into their lives. Instead of walking out with the stench of negativity in your nostrils, speak a positive word into their life. They may counter with a negative but refuse to accept it. Speak life, speak positive and refuse to let the stink get on you!

Living In A Small Town

Small towns. John Cougar Mellencamp sings about it, and I complain about it. Most shopping has to be done 45 minutes away and we are very limited on services. If someone from out of town visits you, people ask who they are. Today the Lord reminded me of the blessings of living in a small town.

If you’ve never been to California and traveled extensively, you imagine California to be Los Angeles and San Francisco. It isn’t though. There is large area of California called the Central Valley and it’s made up of small farming communities. That’s where I was born and have lived a great deal of my life. As a teen I couldn’t wait to leave! Small towns were good places to be from, not to be in, I wanted big city lights.

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic thats me

I moved back to the valley when I was 29 and have lived here ever since. I finally stopped commuting to the Bay Area 7 years ago and I have lived exclusively in a small town. We are a small town to the core. When something new happens everyone knows about it here. When we get a new store, we all rejoice and think we are big time now!

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Probly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

So here was my day yesterday. Lulu and I headed to the office via Starbucks.

“Good morning, welcome to Starbucks, would you like to try a blah, blah, blah?”
“No thanks, can I get a Grande Soy Chai Latte please?”
“A grande soy chai latte, we’ll have your total at the window”
I get to the window and big smiles from the staff, “Hi Lulu! Here’s your whipped cream”
Lulu is dancing in the front seat and crying and drooling all at once. No one can ever say my dog doesn’t multi-task just like her mom!
“Awwww! She’s the cutest thing!”

We run to the office and work.

At lunch we run to the bank. The teller waves me over.
“Hey Susan come on over. LOVE the new flowers in your yard. What’s the stuff you put in the beds it looks so full.”

Then we run to the dry cleaners:
“Hello Mrs. Young, your cleaning is ready. Do you want to pay today or is Mr. Young coming in to pay?”

Then we run to the post office:
“Hey, how’s the church building coming along? I saw men working there, is it almost done?”
“Where’s Anthony been? Haven’t seen him around lately. Heard he’s dating a local girl, whose her family?”
(yes, everyone is involved in your business, it can be kind of annoying or it can be kind of comforting depending on your mood that day). At least they care if for nothing else fodder for gossip.
“Is Casey still in Los Angeles? Good for her! Sounds like she is she doing okay for herself. Sometimes I think I should have moved to a big city when I was younger for more opportunity but hell, I raised my kids here, married my high school sweetheart, my parents are here and we’re okay.”

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

On my way back to the office I get a phone call, “Stop talking on your cell phone. It’s against the law. Besides I was waving and you didn’t even see me. When did you change your hair color? Weren’t you blonde last week?”

Yes, the things that used to drive me nuts blessed me today. I am a part of a community. Maybe I’ve realized it for the first time ever in my life. Maybe it’s a really good thing. I’m not part of a neighborhood. I’m actually part of town. A place where my children are often asked about and cared about. It really was the best decision to raise them here.

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Every Day He Tells Me And Shows Me How Much He Loves Me

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Love is more than words and feelings, it’s action. It’s found in the little and big things in life. I know I am engulfed in God’s love for me. I am not so sure about the rest of the world’s love for me but God’s love, I know, is there for me daily. Even when it’s pouring rain in my life and I engulfed with trouble and battle I am loved and I know it. Even when I am not acting my best, I am secure and safe in the knowledge of God’s love.

The bible never commands a woman to love her man because she does so without effort. She is emotional by nature and so she loves and she loves deep. The bible commands a husband to love his wife. Why? Because men are more practical in thinking and so emotion doesn’t run high, they don’t always say they love their woman. I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and my husband is staring at me. It kinda freaks me out because I think, was I snoring or drooling, why is he staring? When I ask him what is wrong he says he was just watching me sleep peacefully and he just loves me and is glad I am there next to him. It’s easy to love me when I’m sleeping because I am silent!

During the day, at some point in the day, or several points in the day, he tells me he loves me. Every great once in awhile though he doesn’t. Maybe he got busy or maybe he was angry or maybe.. my mind goes crazy with thoughts of why not but those days thankfully are very few and far between. He shows me he loves me when he does things he knows I like. When he makes the bed, yes it’s that simple or when he quits his video game playing when I come home late from a long day at work to pay attention to me. That doesn’t usually happen but when it does it’s great. When we go to mid-week church service and he doesn’t have to preach so we sit together and he rubs my neck as I take notes. It’s in those little things I didn’t ask for but I prayed for that I see his commitment to me and his love.

Find someone who thinks of you. Who is not selfish and who you don’t have to remind all the time that you are there and that as a woman you need something more. For you to feel secure in his love it must not come from nagging but from self propelled action. If he is not showing it before marriage, he will not show it after.

Shacking Up and Pregnant

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Dear Pastor Susan,
What happens when a woman claims she’s a Christian but she’s shacking up and pregnant?

Well, she’s a liar, her life doesn’t match her words. Just because you think you’re something, doesn’t mean you are. I color my hair every six weeks or so, today I’m a chestnut brown-headed woman, this is how I would describe myself. I just got the new color this week, last week I had blonde highlights, but my roots are dark brown and show what color my hair really is! She also stains the name of Jesus. Seems really harsh huh? Here’s some scripture:

1 Samuel 15:22 Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices – empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.

2 Corinthians 6:1 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. 2 God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. 3 Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. 4 Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; 5 when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; 6 with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; 7 when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right;

Psalm 119:4 You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. 5 Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set;

Ephesians 5:1 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
3 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. 4 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. 5 You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them – the usual variations on idolatry – will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. 6 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him.

1 John 2:3Here’s how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. 5 But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. 6 Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.

If these aren’t enough, let me know, the bible is full of scriptures that tell us that we must walk the walk and talk the talk and not live as the world does. Thanks for writing in!

Flirting With Death

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Proverbs 8:1 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? 2 She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. 3 Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, 4 “You – I’m talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets! 5 Listen, you idiots – learn good sense! You blockheads – shape up! 6 Don’t miss a word of this – I’m telling you how to live well, I’m telling you how to live at your best. 7 My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth – I can’t stand the taste of evil! 8 You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed. 9 You’ll recognize this as true – you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. 10 Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. 11 For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
12 “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. 13 The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion – pride and arrogance and crooked talk. 14 Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. 15 With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; 16 With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. 17 I love those who love me; those who look for me find me. 18 Wealth and Glory accompany me – also substantial Honor and a Good Name. 19 My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus. 20 You can find me on Righteous Road – that’s where I walk – at the intersection of Justice Avenue, 21 Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life – armloads of life!
22 “God sovereignly made me – the first, the basic – before he did anything else. 23 I was brought into being a long time ago, well before Earth got its start. 24 I arrived on the scene before Ocean, yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes. 25 Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape, I was already there, newborn; 26 Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons, and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather, 27 And set Sky firmly in place, I was there. When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean, 28 built the vast vault of Heaven, and installed the fountains that fed Ocean, 29 When he drew a boundary for Sea, posted a sign that said, no trespassing, And then staked out Earth’s foundations, 30 I was right there with him, making sure everything fit. Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying his company, 31 Delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family.
32 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. 33 Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life. 34 Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. 35 When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure. 36 But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul; when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”-“The Message”