The Never’s of Conflict

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God helps those who helps themselves. Your face will freeze like that if you don’t stop making that face. When I was your age, I walked to school…in the snow…without shoes. The earth is flat. Santa Clause is real. Mommy and Daddy were just wrestling. And my favorite…Marriage means the end of conflict, because you are in love.

What do all of these phrases have in common? They are all lies that at one point in time were believed to be true. The world tricks us into thinking that getting married means the absence of conflict. But it’s important to understand that, if you are breathing, conflict in life and marriage is inevitable. However, conflict is not what will define your relationships…how you deal with conflict is what will define your marriage, life and relationships. 

Here are some bad conflict habits that we should avoid if we want to see our marriages flourish. (I also think this can apply to every day conflict and other relationships)

1. Never avoid conflict. Because what happens when we avoid conflict is that one issue will begin to boil in side of us and sooner or later we will blow up…and look crazy in the process. Don’t avoid it.

2. Never get historical. You can’t pull a file from 6 years ago and use that in whatever the current conflict is. Let the dead horse continue to be dead and stop going back to the grave side.

3. Never try to win. Your goal in an argument is not to win. It’s to be one. Contrary to popular belief…the woman is not always right.

4. Never let the sun go down on your anger. Unless it is really late and no one is making any sense any more…especially if things are getting really heated…then you may need to take a walk and cool off.

5. Never play the comparison game. Instead of appreciating the unique way that God is writing your own marriage and life…we will spend our whole life trying to measure up to someone else’s life or marriage. There’s nothing more that will rob your joy than to play the comparison game. Comparing yourself (or your marriage) with someone else’s even has a way to make you jealous, “No one can really be that happy…they’re just faking it.”… Rest in the fact that God is writing your unique story and He will take care of you.

You have to remember that you need the Spirit of God to lead your heart at all times, especially in conflict. What does it look like when God leads you through conflict? Your life will be marked with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-Control.

What are some other habits we should avoid when dealing with conflict?

What Does the Fox Say?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you have most likely heard the craziest song ever, “What Does the Fox Say?” Me and my kids get a good kick out of it. In actuality, it made me think, wait…I’ve really never heard a fox…so what does it say? I’ve heard a dog…I’ve heard coyotes…but I’ve never heard a stupid fox. What does the fox say?

A couple of months ago I was reading through the Song of Solomon and found this verse, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Let me put this in context for you. This guy and gal are in the courting phase of their relationship and she is basically asking him, “will you fight for our relationship when things get really bad?” Because the reality is that you and I have issues. Some are the size of Alaska…and others are the size of West Point Georgia. Regardless…you and I are going to have issues throughout our relationships and we must be able to identify and kill the foxes (issues) that are bent towards destroying our marriages and relationships. So, the fox says it wants your marriage to die…but God says, you made a covenant with that man or woman. And God wants to destroy the foxes and see your marriage thrive.

Here are a few foxes that are common in our relationships:

1) Priorities

Jesus>Marriage>Kids. It’s not the other way around. What happens when your kids leave the home and you’ve placed all your vitality on them? You’re left with some woman or man you don’t even know. This also applies to you parents who place so much priority on activities that keep you and your child away from Church.

2) Secret Sin

The sin you continue to fail at confronting…will be the sin that destroys you. And if you’re in the courting phase…you need to come clean on a lot of things. It will eat at your soul if you don’t and you will bring in so much baggage to your marriage if you don’t. If you’re married, you need to use extreme wisdom and counsel if there are dark secret sins you are clinging to. Confess to God for forgiveness and confess to others for healing. 

3) Attitude (Criticism, Nagging, Bickering, Shutdown Mode..)

Proverbs 21:19 says, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” God just said it’s better to burn in the sun, dehydrate and die than it is to live with a sour woman. WOMEN!!! STOP NAGGING THE FOOL OUT OF YOUR HUSBAND! Proverbs 27:15 says, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike” Your constant bad attitude is the same as water boarding. STOP IT! Let your man lead your home. DON’T NAG HIM! Encouragement in the mouth of a woman is incredibly powerful in the heart of a man. 

Men, you have to stop going in to shut down mode every time there’s a conflict! Not dealing with the fox is probably the worst thing you can do.

These are the foxes that I feel creep in the vineyards constantly. These aren’t all of them… and honestly… every couple has them and may have different foxes. Listen: it is healthy for you to ask … “what are the foxes in our lives?” Deal with the foxes and kill them. 

God wants your marriage and relationships to flourish. We can’t allow these stupid foxes to rip up one more marriage! What does the fox say? Die. Deal with the foxes and fight for your marriage and tell that fox to die.

What Really Matters?

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The other day my son ripped a hole in his pants (which has happened to every pair he owns) and of course he noticed I was upset. But this time was different…I could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew he disappointed me. So, instead of making him feel bad and explaining to him I was going to make him wear shorts in 20 degree weather, I asked him, “what really matters” and his response was, “God and People”.

This is a core value we have in our house. When our kids are getting frustrated over little things…we always ask…what really matters? But this time, it was me that needed to be reminded on what really matters. Yes, we believe in being good stewards of what we have, but in the end…we want our children to know that there are only two things that really matter. God and people.

How many times have we allowed situations to rule our lives that, honestly, don’t even matter. Maybe it’s not being overly concerned with ripped jeans for you. Maybe the issue is holding on to past regrets. Maybe it’s being too concerned with your social status. Maybe it’s having a high regard for trinkets and toys? Whatever it is for you, does it really matter? Not to belittle your situation, because maybe it does matter…but has it taken priority over the two things that matter most in life?

If we are about God and people, then this should radically change the way we live our lives. Things wouldn’t be all about us. Rather, they would be about…you guessed it, God and People. We would live our lives for God and we would show compassion to the people around us.

Maybe you need to be reminded on the things that matters most in life. God & People.

Leaving So Soon?

If you had one word to describe 2012 what would it be? For me it would be INCONCEIVABLE! (In my Vizzini voice). Honestly, I felt an incredible shift at the beginning of the year and I knew once certain things took place in my life that God had me right where he wanted me. But isn’t that hard to comprehend sometimes? I am reminded of the story found in Luke when the Angel of The Lord appeared to a teenage girl named Mary.

Have you ever thought about how ridiculously insane this story is? Okay, here is a young teenager who found herself pregnant but who was also a virgin? (Today she would be on the front page of The Onion News (don’t Google that, by the way)). She asked a crucial question to God, “How can this be since I don’t know a man?” (And by “know a man” she meant she had never done the baw chicka bow wow deed (again, don’t Google that phrase)), and what has captivated my heart is what happened right after this. The word of The Lord said to her, “For with God, nothing is impossible.”

This past year I had a lot of those, “HOW CAN THIS BE”, or “HOW ARE WE GOING TO FIND ANOTHER BUILDING FOR OUR CHURCH” or “HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE IT”! I want to propose to you today that God might be saying the same thing to His church. I believe he would say “For with God, nothing is impossible.” It may look bleak, and you might be at the end of your rope, but when God is in your equation, nothing is impossible! Or let me say it like this, when God is at the center of our lives…FOR WITH GOD, nothing is impossible. How have we gotten to this point? Because FOR WITH GOD!!!

Is God truly at the center of your life? My former pastor used to say, “He is either Lord of ALL or NOT at all.”

This is how I’d rap up 2012. God has been extremely good to us, (DON’T BELIEVE ME? READ THIS) and it’s nothing that I have done, but I would suggest that it’s simply because we have kept him at the center of our lives. Did I have a lot of questions? Yes. Were there moments of doubt? Yes. But hear the word of The Lord to His church today, “FOR WITH GOD, nothing is impossible.” He has truly been faithful to me and my Refuge Point Church family.

Peace and Love

Pastor Matthew

P.S. hope you enjoy my new site design. Check back weekly for new posts…(and I’m excited about some of the things I’ll be writing about on here.)