Categories
character Christian Living

Guard Your Heart

Growing up, my house was the neighborhood hub for summer fun. Friends came to play basketball—every day but Sunday—and lined up afterwards for my mom’s homemade popsicles. The front drive was always abuzz with activity.

I think my parents liked it this way, because they knew where my brothers and I were, and could also keep a watchful eye on everyone. They were teachers (off in the summer) and almost everyone in our little town knew them.

Occasionally, after the last pick-up game, when everyone had gone home, my dad would warn me about someone who’d been there that day. “Son, I heard the Perkins kid using the F-word and saw him throwing elbows under the rim. That’s not the kind of friend or player you want to be.”

I actually thought *Jimmy Perkins was kinda cool. But even as a teenager, I respected my father’s advice; he was a good judge of character. Sure enough, later that fall Jimmy got kicked off the team and suspended from school for punching our basketball coach in the face!

Awhile later, I came across the apostle Paul’s warning to the Galatians: “A little yeast works through the whole bunch of dough,” (Gal. 5:9) and I realized what my father had done: he protected me by pointing out someone who was a bad influence.

There’s actually quite a bit in the Bible about how much damage a little leaven can do. Paul used the analogy to clue the Galatians in to the dangers of legalism, but said almost the same words to caution the Corinthians about tolerating a totally different situation. (1 Cor. 5:6-7) Jesus Himself weighed in on the issue. He told his disciples to, “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” who added their own pious rules to God’s law (Matt. 16:6-12).

The point is, we need to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). One step daily with God in the right direction can transform your life. However, walking backwards has the opposite effect.

I like how fellow blogger Chris Hendrix puts it in his post Defeating Hidden Sins:

“Guarding my heart became something I did rather than just something I read about in the Bible. If every sin was hiding in my heart, waiting for the right moment and circumstances to align, I needed to be more cautious.”

Chris Hendrix

AMEN! Guarding your heart is something you DO.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life

Prov. 4:23

To read about my own personal misjudgment with the proverbial yeast, please see the post, Just a Little Off Course.

*not his real name.

Photo by Spencer Lind on Pexels.com

Categories
anger Christian Living

Let the Boo-Boo Breathe

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” — (Proverbs 14:29)

As a teacher at an elementary school, I’ve heard young children say some pretty profound things. I was out on the playground one day with the kids, when a little guy came up to me to show me his fancy band-aid. It was a big purple one that covered half his little forehead. He pointed to it and said, “My mommy says this is a magic band-aid. It let’s the boo-boo breathe.”

Let the boo-boo breathe

Not long after my conversation with the enlightened kindergartener, I was called to my principal’s office for a meeting with an upset parent. Before the mother arrived, I asked my boss how I should respond.

I’ll always be grateful for her advice. She told me that the less I said the better. “Most caregivers just want to be heard,” my principal said. “They need to know that you care about their child.”

So I listened. It was hard when the mother made unfounded accusations–based on false information from her child–but I held my peace until it was my turn to speak. Calmly, I said, “Maam, we each want the same thing; we both want what is best for your child.”

Instantly, the icy wall between us melted. The mother began, with tears in her eyes, to tell of her struggles as a single parent. Like my principal said, an overwhelmed caregiver just wanted to be heard. She needed to know that someone understood.

I wish I could say this is how I’ve always approached interpersonal conflict. The reality is, many times in my life I’ve lost perspective and overreacted in frustration or anger. This has usually only made things worse.

Here are a few ways I let the “boo-boo breathe,” to give myself a buffer zone before acting:

  • Do No More for 24 – When you’re super angry, whatever you say or do is unlikely to help the situation. Give yourself 24 hours (or more) to cool off, and then calmly state your grievances (if necessary) with the other party.
  • Just Don’t It – When you aren’t sure how to react to a situation, do this: NOTHING. Like the old song by the Beatles says, 🎶”There will be an answer. Let it be.”🎶 Okay, this one is almost the same as Do No More for 24, but not quite. Maybe it’s not necessary for you to DO anything.
  • Talk With a Trustworthy Friend – Sometimes it can be helpful to take the decision out of your own hands. Share your dilemma with a trusted friend–someone who is not so close to the situation–and let them help you decide.

Finally, here are a few of my favorite “Magic Band-aid” scriptures to let the boo-boo breathe. I’d love to hear some of yours. Or maybe you have a story about how a relational time-out saved the day. Please share!


“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” — (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

“The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hot headed and yet feels secure.” — (Proverbs 14:16)

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.” — (Psalm 37:8)

A parting thought:

The power of a particular emotion doesn’t necessarily determine it’s value.

Regular David (me)

Photo by Luca Severin on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Blog devotional

Right Now, It’s Like This

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

On April 22, 2020 my house got pounded by tennis ball size hail. Inside, it sounded and felt like artillery shells were hitting the roof. At daylight the next morning, I went out to survey the damage. Parts of our siding looked like swiss cheese, and the roof had more divots than a golf course fairway!

Severe weather is common here–our home has been damaged by wind and hail twice before, but never like this. I contacted my insurance company, and the slow cakewalk began. Why are they so quick to take premiums, but slow to pay claims?

Getting paid for damages is just the beginning of a larger pain in the next. That’s not a typo. I meant to say pain in the NEXT; construction delays are REAL. It’s easier to find a live leprechaun, than an experienced roofer after a hail storm!

As I type, it two months after the storm, and still no new roof. However, there are pallets of shingles on my front lawn and a contractor’s trailer parked in the driveway. The timeline for job completion has been adjusted and readjusted and re-readjusted. Cue sound of breaking glass.

Three days later…

I went for a run this morning, fussing and fuming the whole time about our hopelessly stalled project. By the time I finished and walked in the door, I was ready to call our contractor and say, “Enough is enough.” But my wife stopped me as I walked through the living room, “Sweetheart, listen to the verse of the day.”

Yet those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB

“Ok God, message received,” I thought to myself, “I’ll at least wait until I’m not angry before I decide to do anything.” I went out back to cool off–physically and emotionally–and sat for a few minutes with a towel over my head: “God I can’t take much more of this.”

Back inside, I realized it was trash day, so I opened the garage door to take out the garbage. And that’s when I noticed the ladder leaning against the house. The roofers were here!

I hear stories like this sometimes, and I think, “Yeah right.”
But then it happens to me.

Thank God.