Don’t get offended.

“I mean this in love and in no way intend this to come across as negative or critical, but…”

Ever have someone start out a conversation this way? Not the easiest statement to hear someone else say to us. Well, don’t feel too bad, it’s only natural to put up an emotional wall, or get verbally defensive when someone we know well confronts us with an issue.

Whether they say it in love or not, or whether it is even well-intended or meant to hurt us, I think we can learn to glean value from any kind of confrontation, rebuke, even attack.

Granted, some verbal attacks are purely worthless and should be discarded immediately. In fact, I sometimes think the reason many of us get defensive when spoken to this way is actually because of a lack of GOOD DEFENSE.

Now hear me, I am not saying that it is good to “get defensive”… not at all. What I propose to you is this: If we have built healthy boundaries (read any book from the amazing series BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud and John Townsend) in our Circle of Relationships (ask ME for a copy of this helpful tool ), we won’t have to “get defensive” when bombarded, attacked, or lovingly addressed in a proper way.

You see, if you have built healthy DEFENSES ahead of time, you don’t need to GET DEFENSIVE at the spur of the moment!

You can listen to that person, chew any meat they may have given, and spit out the bones. And if someone gives you ALL BONES, well then you can spit the entire mess out and get a good breath mint later!

Jesus didn’t need to get defensive when verbally attacked by his critics, because he already had healthy defenses built before hand.

Some of these defenses relate more to a healthy view of ourselves and a confidence of who God is in us and the fact that if He is for us, we have nothing to fear.

In fact, if you find yourself getting defensive often, that indicates you probably have not built good DEFENSES up in your inner man. And in fact, you may find inside your soul many conflicting sources pulling and pushing you to really fly off the handle emotionally, psychologically, physically.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Now I would be a hypocrite to make it sound like I am such a well-adjusted human being that I have never, ever become defensive. The exact opposite scenario is closer to the truth. You see, I found so many unhealthy emotional triggers inside of me when I first started my spiritual journey – I was one of the most defensive people on the planet. I discovered part of the reason had to do with being a very caring person – I was sensitive. But sensitivity without a healthy defense system on the inside will produce a lot of pain. I had to “toughen up” as others say.

But truthfully, it had nothing to do with getting tougher, but with getting fortified with a good set of boundaries and inner foundational truths. It took years and still I am growing in that area even to this day.

I wish I could go into greater detail with this, but if I did, this would not be a blog entry, but a book. And for more detail, you are going to have to wait for THE BOOK – “The Life” ha ha.

So all I can tell you is this – you and I need our source to be God inside of us in order to build healthy defenses on the outside. Then and only then, when the time comes for someone to “share a personal word” with us, we won’t get defensive anymore, but instead, with peace and calmness we can gently listen to the person(s) and filter the information properly with a smile, and even say, “Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I will take it into consideration. Have a great day!”

Sounds easy, of course it is not. But with His Life inside of us, it is more than POSSIBLE!

Until next time,

Jeff Saxton

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The Secret is Caring

Good Day to you!

It’s kinda nice to have someone give us a nice warm greeting each day, isn’t it?

I once knocked on a door of someone’s home as I was inviting people to a special event at our church, and was quite shocked when the owner of the home opened the door and, before I could say a word, launched into a multi-syllable cuss fest about how much of a “hypocrite you are for walking across the street from your church to talk to me when you could care less about me! You just want to show everyone you are better than them and act like you are so holy!”

This tirade went on for about five minutes, but lasted for an eternity – it seemed to me anyway. The funny thing was, this was decades earlier when our society wasn’t quite as turned off to cold call invitations. But this house was maybe a few hundred feet from our church building. I was totally shocked to hear such negative words directed at my character.

I have since learned to not take this kind of thing personally (I very much recommend a special brand of duck-feather oil – you will live a happier and longer life!)

Anyhoo… yeah, this blew a little wind out of my sails at the time. What shocked me was that this lady had me all wrong. Or did she?

As I considered her words, I realized that she was wrong in that I wasn’t out there to make anyone feel bad, or think i was more holy than they. I was out to merely be used by God to offer eternal hope to people.

At the same time, she was also right – I did NOT care about her personally. I mean, how could I? I had never met her. Sometimes we need to show people we care before we do anything else. This woman had probably been preached to and “evangelized” many times before by well-meaning church people, or others not as well-meaning.

I have learned that I need God’s compassion for others. I have seen that when I show someone care, concern, compassion, they are very open to hearing anything I have to say.

I used to think it was what I KNEW that would change the world. Now I know that it isn’t about what I KNOW, its about how deeply I CARE. True love and compassion has moved many mountains in our world.

Ask God to give you His compassion for others. And then, once you care, ask Him to show you how to show that love and concern.

The secret lies not in KNOWING, the SECRET IS – CARING!

Until Next Time
Jeff

Check out updates for my upcoming book with co-author MIKE STEHR at https://www.facebook.com/GetTheLifeBook


Earning Not to be Heard

Someone mentioned this common Christian cliche’ the other day to a friend as I overheard them discuss how to talk to people who have chosen to live a sinful lifestyle – “Well you know, we got to earn the right to be heard. We can’t just go up to people and bombard them with our opinions about the sins of other people.”

It may be a cliche’ but I like it nonetheless.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine to get into details of what was meant by the comment “sinful lifestyle” because that could include the pastor down the street that lives an honest life in certain areas of his personal life yet extorts money from his flock.

A person struggling with sin in any area is technically living a “sinful lifestyle”. I’m so glad no one from church came up to me in high school and confronted me in a judgmental manner about my sinful lifestyle.

The thing is, I certainly was living a sinful lifestyle. I was convicted every Sunday about my alcoholic partying and wild adventures that involved trouble with the law. But in order to tell me about my sinful lifestyle, you need to earn that access. That’s a social rule – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Another cliche’ that I like.

So next time you see that sinner on the street or in the office or on the bus, take those stones you hold in your hand and drop them on the ground. When you have that sinner’s attention, ask them how their day is going, and really listen to their answer. then, if you must speak about sin, tell them about the worst sinner you ever met – you!

I’m joking – a little bit. Sort of.

When people see we have let go of the angry stones and picked up a wooden cross, they will be drawn to the love of Jesus and finally, want to hear what we have to say- which should mostly be about God’s amazing love and grace who saved a wretch like you and me!

Until next time!

Jeff

Risk

Ever been to Vegas?

I have. I don’t gamble. I really don’t like casinos. The entire scene is a tad bit off-putting for me. I like some of the cheap food and the amazing shows. I wouldn’t say my dislike for Vegas has anything to do with strong moral objections. I mean, in every city in the world there are places that most folks would find morally objectionable. On the other hand, we are living in this world and sometimes we find our calling right in the midst of a sinful environment. Jesus expects us to learn how to live a pure and ethically clean life while simultaneously reaching out and being a light to a dark world.

Kind of a tricky deal.

Vegas has taught many people lessons about risk. Yet when you think about it, choices we make every day have an element of risk. When we vote, send our kids to school, apply for a job, join a church, shop for a new or used car, or purchase a home, we are putting ourselves in a position of risk. Life involves risk taking. Even simple things like drivng our car to work involve a certain amount of risk.

When it comes to our faith, we may face choices that involve risking our comfort, reputation or even friendships. Although I greatly dislike being put in a vulnerable position, I also realize that great success cannot occur without stepping out into the unknown. When Jesus told Peter to walk on the water with him, Peter was afraid. I guess I am more like Peter than I want to admit. At least Peter took that first step or two and walked for a few moments.

Maybe it’s time to walk across the neighbor’s pool.

Baby steps.

Are you beautiful?

Are you beautiful?

It’s good to be beautiful in America.

It has been said that a beautiful person can achieve great success in our society, even without being talented. Looks is sometimes the deciding factor in hiring certain employees in many organizations.

Every day, someone in charge of hiring is looking over various applications, and choosing the less qualified person because of their looks. Age of course, is part of that as well. But if you are older yet beautiful, you still have a great chance. People who work in retail treat you better when you are beautiful. They smile, feel better about you, and sometimes they will bend the rules and give you what you ask for, because your beautiful.

When your beautiful, everyone wants to be your friend. When your beautiful, you don’t have to pay as much as the others; and in some cases, you may not have to pay at all.

When your beautiful, they give you the honored seats, the attention and focus. When your beautiful, they will treat you with respect. When your beautiful, they will roll out the red carpet. When you are beautiful, they will make you a star.

If we are not careful, we will treat people this same way in our churches.

Do we pay special attention to the beautiful people, while giving the less beautiful people a passing glance, or patronizing word of greeting? Do we make the beautiful people the guest of honor in our presence, while taking a step back from the unattractive?

I am sure God understands our discomfort, or reticence to embrace the ugly people; especially the dirty, smelly, ugly people. On the other hand, how many angels have we dissed because they were ugly?

“But Angels are beautiful in the Bible!”

Uh, right, but they apparently also enjoy sneaking around incognito in eclectic costumes and acting like strangers in need. (Hebrews 13:2)  Lot comes to mind here; as two angels who came to him masquerading as men.

God loves beautiful people. He calls us to be beautiful. Here is the problem – God doesn’t look at the outside, and He doesn’t care about the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7  “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”), God wants us to be beautiful on the inside.

You may be an outwardly beautiful person. You may be dressed to the nines, or trendy and stylish. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want to succeed in this world, it is only wise to look your best. You may be blessed with an attractive body and face. That is certainly not a crime – God gave you that “blessing”. But the problem is – we are mistaken if we think our outward appearance is what pleases God. It’s not.

Your inner beauty is truly BEAUTY DEFINED from God’s point of view. Your inner beauty is what is attractive to God.

Proverbs says a beautiful woman who shows no discretion is like a pig with a ring in its snout. (Proverbs 11:22)

You might be beautiful on the outside, but are you filled with envy and jealousy and greed? You might be hot, but are you also full of selfish thoughts and lustful passions? You might be smokin’, but are you full of hate and anger and bitterness?

Do people give you honor and praise for your outward looks? Watch out! Looks can distract us from the God who is unimpressed with your pretty face.

Was Christ really outwardly as beautiful as artists typically depict? We do know that he was not especially attractive on the outside. (Isaiah 53:2) So then why do we call him beautiful? Because of his heart! His unbounding love! His compassion! His empathy! His tenderness! His care!

If Jesus came to our church this Sunday as he looked when he walked the earth, he would have come as a relatively poor person, with no physically drawing looks, and most likely wearing quite humble clothing.

We might miss him. We may not greet him. Some would not talk to him. Others maybe cordial, but perhaps also suspecting. But he would be beautiful! The most beautiful of all!

So the sum of it all is this – Be attractive to God!

Be truly beautiful in your heart.

That’s REAL beauty.