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Healing, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Spiritual Formation

Your Greatest Enemy In Conflict

July 1, 2014

Remember who the real enemy is.”

It’s one of the most haunting lines from the second Hunger Games movie. Probably because the truth in that line hits us so profoundly. It bothers us how quickly and completely we can forget and allow our perception to become skewed the minute conflict strikes.

remember who the enemy is

Relationship Problems…

Your spouse does something inconsiderate, but it’s not the first time. You’re hurt but you don’t want to say, “That hurt my feelings.” Instead, you speak harshly, emotionally withdraw, or both. The conflict escalates until the peacemaker in the relationship offers a repair attempt and then you’re back to normal.

Like wheels that fall into ruts on a well-worn dirt path, your relationship probably has ruts that you naturally slide into when a conflict rises.

The other day, Bonnie and I had a small “disruption,” and I chose the emotional withdrawal approach. As soon as we get into bed, I turn my back to her and offer a disingenuous “good night.” I then start to think about all the comforting reasons why truth was on my side.

Bonnie then puts her hand on my shoulder, pulls me over to face her, and starts to kiss my arm without saying a word. In this instance, I was the one who should have made a repair attempt, not her. I was the one who overreacted, she didn’t even have anything to apologize for. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t going to allow pride to get in the way of love.

Our greatest enemy in conflict isn’t the other person, it’s our own pride. That is a wall that we must be ruthless to recognize and to tear down.

Pride insidiously masquerades as truth.

Pride, not truth, is what escalates and perpetuates conflicts.

God’s love however, is not self-seeking and it doesn’t insist on it’s own way.

It doesn’t wait for the offending party to make everything right before it’s offered again.

The problem is that we seldom recognize our own pride.

Are You Struggling With Pride?

Here’s a quick litmus test:

  • Are you quick to repent?
  • Do you forgive those who sin against you?
  • Do those who know you best occasionally confront you with your sin and in response, you acknowledge it, repent, and strive to strengthen the relationship?
  • Are most of your relationships healthy or, when you look behind you, are there a lot of broken relationships left in your wake?

If you’re slow to repent, struggle to forgive people, and live with a lot of broken relationships, truth is not on your side. Jesus elevates reconciliation higher than worship (Matthew 5) and Paul reminds us that, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

In the wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes), one of the clearest distinguishing factors between wisdom and foolishness is how we respond to correction.


If our posture isn’t humble and we don’t practice regular repentance, there’s a good chance that our view of God is just a glorified version of ourselves.

Tear down your pride before your pride tears down another relationship!

That night, Bonnie loved me by first setting aside her pride. I didn’t say it at the time, but it made me want to love her the same way the next time we’re in a conflict. It’s a thousand reasons like this that the apostle Paul writes that such love, “does not fail.”

love never fails

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Featured Posts, Healing, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Spiritual Formation

Your Past is Your Most Common and Hidden Adversary

May 25, 2014

past pain

“Behold, I am making all things new!” —Jesus

 “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” —Mark Twain


Two opposing viewpoints, right? So, which one will it be?
You’ve got several options when it comes to the brokenness in your family tree.

You can excuse it, “She did the best she could under the circumstances.”
You can ignore it, “Nothing good comes from digging up the past.”
You can resist it, “I’ll never be like them!”
Or, you can courageously face it and choose to forgive, “God, help me see my family and past as You see it and allow your grace to heal and transform it.”

Brandon and Michaela had each heard hundreds of sermons. But when they got married four years ago, there were deep, entrenched parts of their souls that were untouched by the power and grace of Jesus. Somehow, two biblical truths had managed to evade them:

  • The blessings and sins of our families going back a couple generations profoundly impact us today.
  • Discipleship requires putting off the sinful patterns of our family of origin and relearning how to do life God’s way.

The real idea behind generational curses in the Old Testament is more of an observation than a spiritual law: sin naturally spreads until there is a deliberate break. I give what I’ve received and I withhold what was withheld from me. The break happens when I say, “I see this now for what it really is and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want it to be a part of me and I certainly don’t want to inadvertently pass it on to my kids. So, I need to name it, forgive it, and then step fully into a new beginning through the grace of God.”

Breaking generational patterns requires 3 deliberate steps: Continue Reading…

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Featured Posts, Healing, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Spiritual Formation

What To Do If You’re Emotionally Constipated

May 15, 2014

childlike copy

Life has a way of deadening our emotions. Pain and disappointment chip away at our childlike enthusiasm and hope until our most common feeling is simply “numb.” Remember as a child how you lived unencumbered by all that weighs you down today?

There was no morbid self-consciousness. There wasn’t a trace of timidity. Your head and heart were connected and you weren’t jaded, disillusioned, or bitter.

Ready to feel alive again? Continue Reading…

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Marriage, Relationships

Illusions of Intimacy – What Intimacy is and What it Isn’t

May 13, 2014

intimacyThe Real Glue In Marriage

The real glue in marriage is an emotional connection that’s sustained through a thousand little touches…

It’s calling in the middle of the day just to ask, “How’s your day going?”

It’s how you part ways in the morning and greet each other at the end of the day.

It’s whether you still hug and how you go to bed.

It’s how you listen to each other talk about dreams, joys, and fears.

It’s your hand on his shoulder when you walk past him and the three seconds that turns a perfunctory kiss into a real one.

It’s the willingness to drop something important just to ride together to the grocery store.

The real glue in marriage isn’t how we resolve conflict. It’s the underlying connection that makes conflict worth resolving.

You don’t need to be highly romantic or put on the perfect Valentine’s dinner. You just need to love her by putting her above yourself and staying connected, even when your feelings aren’t there.

One night, after the kids are in bed, light a candle, play some music, and turn your fried chicken dinner into a romantic evening at your own dinner table.

Have some couch time for a few minutes each evening.

Turn off the TV, put the phones away, and talk.

Leave a card somewhere when it’s not a holiday.

Hug once a day.

After a while you’ll find that the little things are the big things!

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Featured Posts, Healing, Marriage

When Your Marriage Needs a Jack Hammer

April 15, 2014

jack hammer

I spent most of Saturday digging trenches for a new playground at the church. My son Max and I had a pretty simple task for the day: dig eight, three foot deep holes for a swing set. The problem was that the ground was solid rock! We quickly brought out “little jack,” a 30lb jack hammer to help break it up. After a couple hours, I brought out “big jack,” an 80lb beast that obliterated the rock…and my back.

When Your Marriage Hits Rocky Ground

Most marriages hit rocky ground now and then. Sometimes these rocks can seem impenetrable, but I’ve seen even the most “doomed” marriages experience incredible breakthroughs. Unfortunately, I’ve watched many more couples walk away when they hit resistance and didn’t see a quick breakthrough. Continue Reading…

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