The Cost of Being Someone Who Runs From Conflict

You are one of two things.  You are either a fighter or a flee-er.  Your personality–the way God made you, coupled with your life experiences, and many other things–tends to lean towards one or the other.  No matter which one you lean towards, however, nobody really enjoys conflict.  Well, maybe some people, but they are the guys no one really wants to be around anyway.

Conflict comes into our lives like storms.  Storms come and they go.  And so does conflict.  We don’t really see either of them coming.  Conflict, like a storm, just appears, and then we find ourselves in the midst of the metaphorical storm where we are faced with those two options:  fight or flee.  I don’t mean ‘fight,’ as in fist fight.  I mean face it head on… in an appropriate way… in a healthy way.  But that isn’t the purpose of this post.  The purpose of this post is to remind us that there is great cost in being someone who runs–or flees– from conflict.

People who run from conflict, flee from everything:

  • Jobs.
  • Churches.
  • Cities.
  • Neighborhoods.
  • Relationships.
  • Sports Teams.
  • Marriages.
  • Everything.

So, what is the cost of being a flee-er?  Well, the cost is great:

  • You miss growth.
  • You miss realness.
  • You miss authenticity.
  • You miss learning about yourself in new ways.
  • You miss the opportunity to learn, period.
  • You miss the opportunity for reconciliation.
  • You miss the opportunity to display the gospel (us being reconciled to God because of Jesus).
  • You miss the opportunity to teach your kids about the gospel.
  • You miss the opportunity to teach your family about the gospel.
  • You miss the opportunity to teach your co-workers about the gospel.
  • You miss the opportunity to teach your church about the gospel.
  • You miss the opportunity to not be me-centered and serve others.
  • You miss getting to have a clear conscience when you take the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 10:16-17).

And I’m sure you miss much more… I just can’t think of anymore right now.

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Where’s the Poop, Helo?

Sometimes, my wife Grace and I, will find our warrior dog, Helo, sitting shyly in the corner with his paws covering his nose.  I mean, he just looks guilty.  You can tell he did something.  Somewhere.  Grace, my humorous and amazing wife, always says something like this when she sees Helo sitting in this way, “Where’s the poop, Helo?”  This has become our humorous way of breaking the ice to talk through hard things.  For instance, when I come home from a hard days work and something is wrong, and Grace can tell it, she might just say, “Where’s the poop, Greg?”  This doesn’t mean I am necessarily guilty of something, or I pooped in the corner somewhere, but it might mean that I am not speaking up when I need to.  Or talking through things when I need to.  Or being a wimp about conflict.  Or brushing things under the rug.  It could mean a whole multitude of things.

So, I ask you, “Where’s the poop?”  What are you hiding?  Not talking about?  Not being completely honest about?  Not sharing?  The gospel beckons us to authenticity.  To realness.  To pursuing goodness, truth, and beauty in all things.  Poop is the opposite of those things.

 

A Night at the Park with My Girls (& Helo the Warrior Dog)

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Voodoo, Church Planting, and Sweating: My Past 2 Days in Haiti

A NEW PARTNERSHIP:

I have spent the last couple of days sweating in Cap Hatien, Haiti.  Man, it is hot there.  And without 1st-world comforts, such as air conditioning, paved roads, diet coke, and television, you have to begin to adjust yourself — both body and mind — to the difficulties that Haiti brings.  This was my 3rd trip to Haiti.  I spent a week in Port-au-Prince in June of 2011, and a week in Port-au-Prince in January of 2012.  But this time, however, it was only for 2 days.

My buddy Keith Golubski and I traveled down Sunday night to visit the One Mission compound.  The purpose was what I like to call, “Gospel Recon.”  We wanted to see if this was going to be a good partnership for Foothills Church.  I have had a chance to get to know the field director for One Mission in Haiti over the course of the last year and our relationship has developed into a great friendship.

We spent the day on Monday visiting with doctors, dentists, teachers, professors, church planters, pastors, radio directors, and fellow missionaries.  We met several people.  In fact, the reason we were shaking so many hands was because of the amount of ministry that One Mission has available for churches in which to partner.  To me, they are doing missions well.

They are training nationals at their local seminary and then sending them out to plant churches through small group discipleship and relational evangelism.  And often times in Voodoo infested areas.  They are treating hundreds of patients a day at their medical and dental clinics.  They are broadcasting the gospel to millions of people daily with their AM and FM radio stations.  They are traveling to remote villages to pass out solar-powered, fix-tuned radios to people who are illiterate.  They are sponsoring thousands of kids through feeding programs and local church sponsorships.  They are educating Haitian children in their local private school, teaching them the gospel along the way.

I think it goes without saying but I am excited about this partnership.

EVANGELISM THROUGH STORYING IN VOODOO INFESTED AREAS:

On Tuesday, we went to a little area outside of Cap Hatien called Vaudreaux (spelling?) to do evangelism with an indigenous church planter.  I love the fact that nationals are being trained at their seminary and then being sent out to plant churches.  As we shared, the church planter got names and commitments and extended an invitation to his current small group, which will hopefully turn into a local church soon.  As we travelled up the mountain into remote villages, we shared the message of God’s Kingdom through storying. This was the first time I had ever done evangelism like this.  We shared the story of the woman at the well and the story of Zacchaeus.

It was amazing.

The first couple of houses that we came to listened intensely to the life-changing message that we presented, but they were very “western” in their response:  “That is a great story but I don’t want to believe in that right now.  One day I might.”

Many of the people in this area had ties to Voodoo, and were afraid of what the Witch Doctor would do if they converted.  Some simply said no for other reasons.  But still, others believed.  In fact, we had 8 people experience salvation in Jesus that day.  One story stood out to me in particular.

A young girl had recently accepted Christ the week prior, and she invited us to her home to share the gospel with her mother and sister.  As I shared the story of Zacchaeus, they were glued to the words of our translator.  We talked about how Jesus invites everyone who has ever lived — both good and bad — to eat with him at his table.  We talked about who God was.  What sin is.  The majesty and grandeur of Jesus.  His redeeming acts.  Our response to those acts.  And then invited them to believe in this present reality and future hope.

It was amazing to pray with a mom and her daughter as they received King Jesus as the King of their lives.  As we prayed, the other daughter rejoiced.  I rejoiced.  The heavens rejoiced.

 

I Need Help Having a “Media” Sabbath

Building from my post a few days ago about how technology is destroying personal relationships, I want to explore the concept of having a media sabbath.  A sabbath is generally a day of rest observed for specific reasons.  A biblical sabbath is a day of rest in observance of the 7th day of the week.  Not to be confused with Sunday, which is often observed as the biblical sabbath, Saturday is the last day of the week.

In Genesis 1, God set aside the 7th day, calling it holy.  In Exodus 20, God gives Moses the 10 Commandments, in which the observance of the sabbath is commanded.

Today, the concept of having or observing a sabbath is seldom.  I do, however, know many people in the South who observe the sabbath on Sunday.  They say things like, “I don’t mow my yard on Sunday because it’s the sabbath.”  Now that is a fine thing to say and do if you are observing the sabbath but what about taking a break from something we spend the majority of our time doing… or the majority of our time using… something like technology and media.  We need to unplug from time to time.  I need to unplug from time to time.

I have heard that Rob Bell takes personal media sabbaths every Friday.

I have also heard that Beth Moore takes personal media sabbaths every day that she teaches at a conference or event.

I have tried to start having media sabbaths in my life but it is easier said than done.  Because even when you take a personal media sabbath, those who want your attention still want your attention.  Emails still pile up.  People still call you.  People still send you text messages.  I need to figure out something that works for my schedule.

I would love to hear how you take media sabbaths.  Help a brother out!

 

If You Want Deep Roots for Jesus, then Water the Affections that Stir Your Heart for Him

I recently heard Matt Chandler preach a message at Student Life Camp on sanctification and he said this:

If you want deep roots for Jesus, then water the affections that stir your heart for him.

This was worth the entire price of the camp for me and my students.  As I have thought about this quote since then, my entire view the ‘obligation’ of spiritual disciplines has changed.  Before you cast me as a heretic allow me to explain myself.  I absolutely believe that the common spiritual disciplines such as bible reading, bible meditation, a fervent prayer life, scripture memory, fasting, journaling, fellowship with other believers, service in the local church, and the like, are all primary ways one grows in sanctification as a follower of Jesus.  I also think, though, that God could possibly give us each different things that stir our affections for Christ in different ways.

For instance, nature AND cities are two of those things for me.  When I am in God’s creation, my heart stirs with Psalm 19:1.  And quite the contrary, when I am in big cities, my affections for Jesus are stirred in different ways.  I think of the mandate to cultivate the earth in Genesis 1 and the Great Commission attached to that mandate by Jesus.

This understanding of growing deep roots for Jesus by watering the things that stir your affections for him has really become a staple in my life lately.  It honestly has made sanctification, at least in my own heart, change from duty to delight.  In my own mind, spiritual disciplines have become left to the consciences of believers… to the liberty of what stirs our hearts for him.  Although we are all to be in our Bibles daily, we all have different things (i.e., nature, cities, etc) that stir our affections for him in quite different ways as well.

On the other side of the coin, we all also have different things that rob our affections for Jesus.  We all have things in our life that make our affections for Jesus more passive and less stirring.  I am not necessarily talking about sin here either.  Maybe they are things, or mediums, that might cause sin but aren’t actually the sin themselves.

Here is my list of things that stir my affections for him, followed by my list of things that rob my affections for him.  The point of this being that I must water the things that stir my heart for Jesus and kill, or moderate, the things that rob them.

Stirs Affections for Jesus:

  • Fellowship and meals with friends and family.  When I sit down for a meal with close friends and family, my affections for Jesus are almost always stirred.  Even when we do not necessarily open Scripture or talk about the gospel, I am reminded of the evidences of grace he has given me in these people.  Because this is something that waters my affections for Jesus, then I try to do this thing often.
  • God’s Word early in the morning.  I have recently been waking up at 5am to get in God’s Word.  I am simply reading a couple of Psalms and meditating on the riches they bring.
  • Books about God.  When I find myself reading books about God (i.e., theology books or Christian living books), then I find my mind thinks about the things of God more than when I am not.
  • Nature and cities.  Nature and cities are quite opposites but they both stir my affections for Christ in different ways.  Because this is the case, I try to venture to big cities and to the campsite as much as possible.
  • A disciplined day.  When I find myself going to bed early, waking up early to spend time in God’s Word, and giving myself enough time in the morning to get ahead, reply to emails, workout, and spend time with family… all before I head to the office… then I find that I am more likely to stay disciplined with the rest of my day, as well.
  • Good worship music.  Good Christ-centered worship music also stirs my affections for Jesus.
  • Good heroic movies.  I don’t watch a ton of movies, but movies that have good conquering over evil with an iron fist almost always stir my affections for Jesus.  Movies such as Braveheart and Act of Valor, in all honesty, stir my affections for Jesus.  It always reminds my heart of his ultimate victory over sin and death.
  • Working on my house and yard.  The discipline of stewardship allows my affections to stir for Jesus.  When I find myself working on my home with my wife or taking care of our yard and landscape outside, my heart is almost always stirred for Christ.

Robs Affections for Jesus:

  • Competition.  Competition is something that definitely robs my affections for Jesus.  I don’t find myself playing much competitive basketball anymore because this is a constant reality.  I have not found a way yet, at least in who I am as a believer, to play competitive basketball and still love Jesus as I ought.  I find myself in idolatry more often than not.
  • Television.  TV robs my affections for Jesus if I am watching it too much.  If I water my desire for entertainment all of the time then I find my heart longing for evil things.
  • Popular music.  Same concept applies here.  If I water my desire for popular music often then I find my heart longing for evil things.
  • Most Movies.  In all honesty, most movies created today are not Christ honoring.  When I find myself watching a lot of movies, then I find my heart wandering from the things of Christ.
  • Staying up late.  I have recently switched from a night person to a morning person.  This has given me greater discipline to water things that stir my affections for Christ and kill the things that don’t.  When I would stay up late, I would find myself watching more TV and movies that don’t honor Christ than I should be watching.  I would sleep in, feel lazy, and be grouchy and grumpy for most of my day.
  • Sleep in too late.  This just makes me feel lazy.  My wife gets up with our daughter at 7am.  I want to be up with them leading the way in watering our affections for Jesus.

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

 

What is Your Ideal Week? Here is Mine.

This morning, I sat around with 9 children, one of which was actually mine and the other 8 being my nieces and nephews, and chatted with 2 of my brother-in-laws about discipline in your week.  We all seem to be on the same page as far as discipline so it turned into a pretty edifying conversation.  Well, at least I was edified by it.  Everett then coined the phrase, at least in our conversation, of having your “ideal week.”  This got me thinking that I would post what my ideal week actually is.  At this point in my life, I don’t actually plan out my entire week before it begins, but I do plan out each day before it happens.  As I lay down in bed at night, I take my iPhone and structure out my day from the time I awake until the time I leave the office at 5PM.  It really seems to work for me.

The more days I receive by God’s grace, and the more responsibility in his grace that comes alongside of it, it seems to be harder, and honestly, sometimes more tedious, to try to fit EVERYTHING you need to fit into a 24-hour day.  Have you ever heard someone say, “You can’t do everything you want to do in 24-hours.”  I know that I have been the one in the past who has said this.  My argument, however, is that you actually can.

The concept is opportunity cost.  You forfeit one opportunity for the next.  You choose option A over option B.  So in the scheme of living out your perfect day, or even week, you have to decide what is actually important for you.  You choose yard work over TV.  You choose family time over spending time with other people.  You choose time with Jesus over sleep.  You choose being a writer and having a continuously updated blog over not being a writer and not having a continuously updated blog.  You choose discipline over laziness.

A disciplined day seems to keep me in balance.  Discipline seems to be one of those things for me that waters my affections for Jesus.  What I am saying is that I actually feel more inclined to walk with Jesus, than to find myself in sin, when I am living in a disciplined way.  So, with that said, here is what my ideal week looks like:

5AM–  Wakeup / Coffee / Scripture

5:30AM–  Emails (I don’t do emails outside of this set time unless it’s from my wife, Trent, other co-workers, or personal friends and family) / Writing / Blog Stuff

7AM–  CrossFit

7:30AM–  Shower / Family Time

8:45AM–  Leave for the Office

9-5PM–  Meetings / Church Related Tasks / Sermon Preps / Etc.

5:15-7:45PM–  Family Time / Dinner / Bedtime Routine for Cora

7:45-9PM–  Family Time / House Work / Yard Work

9-10PM–  Family Time / Shower / Etc.

10PM–  Lights-out

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

Cora Turns 11 Months Today

Today my baby girl turns 11 months. I cannot believe it has been almost a year since I first laid my eyes upon her, cradled her gently in my arms, and thought to myself, “Wow! She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” Thank you, Father, for the amazing blessing you have given me in Cora. She is truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

Cora’s First (and maybe last) Finger Painting

Pictures taken on the iPhone 4 w/ no lenses attached, as you can tell!

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