What people say about you doesn’t matter

Have you ever discovered that someone has been telling lies about you? Maybe they haven’t been spreading lies about you around, but they believe a lie about you. Maybe it’s something you did or something you said, and somehow it got lost in translation or it got turned around. Regardless of how it happened or even what happened, you end up the butt of someone else’s antagonism.

It’s easy to believe lies about other people, especially if you don’t know them well. That’s why it’s so important to check all your facts before you take someone’s word for it. Not that anyone would willfully mislead another person (even though some people do). But it’s like those crazy news stories that float around on the internet that can’t possibly be true. It’s always good to check them out on Snopes.com or on other reputable news sites before you start spreading them around. The same is true when it comes to stories about people you know.

But that’s how you handle it when you’re hearing a rumor about someone else. What do you do when you find out that someone is spreading rumors about you?

nature-person-hands-girl_1577x1044Today’s verses are Psalm 109:1-5.

O God, whom I praise,
don’t stand silent and aloof
while the wicked slander me
and tell lies about me.
They surround me with hateful words
and fight against me for no reason.
I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations
even as I am praying for them!
They repay evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

There are lots of ways to handle rumor spreaders. In my experience, it’s often good to address the person directly and kindly. Most of the time, the whole situation has developed because of a misunderstanding. More often than not, no one is truly at fault. There isn’t really a bad guy in the case of a miscommunication.

But every now and then you run into people who just want to hurt people. You can’t reason with them. You can’t explain anything. And even if you try to reason or explain, they won’t listen. They only hear what they want to hear, and they’re deaf to anything else. Ever run into one of those folks? They’re not a lot of fun to talk to, and they’re really not much fun to get into an argument with.

It’s always a good idea to address conflict when it arises. Address it immediately and address it to the person who has a problem with you directly. Address it humbly and graciously. Accept responsibility where you’re responsible, and ask forgiveness if you’ve done wrong. That’s your job as a Christ-follower. Beyond that, you can’t do anything else.

If that person continues to lie about you and spread rumors about you, there’s not much you can do about it. Not to be a downer, but that’s their choice. And it’s not your responsibility. The only recourse you have in that situation is to live the kind of life that contradicts everything they say about you.

Well, that’s not the only recourse, I suppose. You always have the same option David did, just like in this Psalm. He took it to the Lord. He asked God for help, for intervention.

But no matter if that person forgives you and lets it go, or if they continue to hate you and tell lies about you, it’s your job to love that person and pray for them. Honestly. Sincerely. Genuinely. Pray for them. Ask God to bless them. Ask the Lord to be real and apparent in their lives. That doesn’t mean you need to go out of your way to be kind to them, although if you can manage it, you might really shock them (which might be funny). But definitely love them as best you can.

And from there? Just keep moving forward. It’s hard for a people-pleaser like me to accept, but not everyone will like me. Not everyone will love me. The same is true for you too. But it doesn’t matter what people say about you; it matters how you choose to live.

Where would you be today without your team?

One of the things I’ve always loved about camping is the teamwork. Everyone has a job to do, and as much as possible (when we were younger) we were given jobs that matched our skills. I mean sometimes you just had to wash the coffee pot out, even if you didn’t drink coffee or didn’t like washing dishes. But it was your turn, and coffee pot needed to be cleaned. By doing your part, you helped the whole team.

Sometimes I think Christ-followers forget that we’re on the same team. We hurt each other by what we say or by what we don’t say. We misunderstand each other. We jump to hurtful conclusions. We take sides. We point fingers and exclaim that if the offender was a good enough Christian, he or she would know better than to behave like that. And we forget about grace and mercy and forgiveness, and that without them, we’re just like those who have no hope. And our little team falls apart.

21503D358DToday’s verses are Hebrews 10:23-25.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

The whole world doesn’t belong to the same family. We aren’t all children of God by birth. We become children of God when we choose to follow Jesus. When that happens, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve done or where you’re going. You are immediately adopted into God’s family. And that means the Christian who’s sitting next to you in the church pew is your brother or sister, and you’re going to spend eternity with him or her.

That’s great news if you like the Christian sitting next to you. But what if you don’t like them?

Oh, unscrew that halo. There are plenty of Christians in your life that you don’t like. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s not a sin to dislike someone. But as a Christ-follower, you are called to love them. Period. There’s no discussion. And love means something a little different than our culture believes. Real Love takes a lot more focus and energy and sacrifice and endurance than what our culture calls love. Real Love is only possible with God’s help.

People fail. Even Christians fail. They will disappoint you. They will hurt you. They’ll reject you and betray you and falsely accuse you. And in the face of all that, you are to love them in return. You are to respond to their anger and hurt and misinformation with grace and peace and patience.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you shouldn’t respond with name calling or rumor spreading. You shouldn’t call names. You shouldn’t lash out with angry accusations. And you shouldn’t threaten. Please, please don’t threaten. Threats never help anyone, and they certainly never deepen a relationship. People who are on the same team should never threaten each other.

Instead of threatening, lashing out, trying to hurt your brother or sister in Christ, think of how to approach them with love. Try to consider how they feel. Think about where they are in their life and what might be causing them to act the way they are.

It’s so easy to misunderstand. Are you willing to destroy another person simply because you assume you know what he or she is feeling? Remember, we’re on the same team. Remember, Christ died for that person too. Remember you aren’t perfect, and you’ve probably made as many or more mistakes than the Christian you’re angry at. Where would you be now if the Christians in your life had just given up on you?

Maybe you’re hurting, but don’t hit back. Believe it or not, the whole situation probably isn’t about you anyway. Hurting people hurt people, and none of us are perfect. It’s up to you whether or not to be gracious.

Just know that God has enough of a sense of humor that if you don’t let it go, He’ll make you be next door neighbors in heaven for all eternity. Wouldn’t you rather sort things out down here before He comes back to get us?

We all need each other. So give teamwork a chance. God’s got us on the same team for a reason.

Getting angry doesn’t make a bad situation better

I struggle with bad drivers. It’s really the one thing that gets me unreasonably upset. I’m not the greatest driver in the world either, but it just makes me really really angry when other people on the road don’t take it seriously. It’s like they don’t understand that they’re controlling a giant killing machine. A car is a weapon, yet many drivers treat it like a toy.

I get angry. And I know I’ve said some things (my passengers can attest) that weren’t very flattering about other drivers on the road. But can you think of a time when yelling at a bad driver actually made them a better driver? Can you actually think of a time when yelling at anyone actually helped them?

man-couple-people-woman_1523x1016Today’s verses are 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

It’s tempting to yell and get angry, especially when we’re mad, but in my experience, losing my temper with someone else never fixes a bad situation. It only makes it worse.

Maybe it’s driving. Maybe it’s schoolwork. Maybe it’s a work project. Whatever situation you’re in, if you’re shouting and getting upset at the people around you, that won’t make them work harder. If anything, it will make them want to quit. It will just put distance between you and them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You still need to speak up for what’s right. You still need to communicate with other people about what you’re thinking and feeling, but you should do it it in a way that is respectful. Be gentle about it.

Being gentle isn’t be weak. That’s an important thing to remember. Being gentle just means you’re taking their thoughts and feelings into consideration. You aren’t behaving like a bulldozer and steamrolling everyone in your path. Oftentimes being gentle actually takes more strength than letting loose on someone does.

If you know someone who believes a lie or who is antagonistic to the truth or who is just being stupid, regardless of how angry you are at them, it’s your job to love them. That’s our job. Period. Love people, in spite of how they act. Don’t pull punches, though. What’s true is true, whether people believe it or not, and as a Christ-follower it’s your job to be right. You should know what God says and so it. But that doesn’t mean you have to pummel people over the head with clubs. We don’t use the Bible to beat people up. We use the Bible to teach ourselves how to live, and in the peace of the life we life with Christ, other people come to Him.

Remember, it’s not up to us to save people. It’s up to us to live the way God says, and people around us will be drawn to that.

So don’t put it on yourself to bludgeon people into submission. If you’re going to bludgeon anyone, bludgeon yourself.

You can fight someone else all day long and have nothing to show for it but a fractured relationship. Instead, speak what’s true with love. You can tell people what God says without being hurtful. Do that instead. Leave the rest to God. He’s the only one who can change hearts, and that’s where the root of all our problems starts anyway.

The Golden Rule can tell you what matters to others

Is there a standard for how a Christ-follower is supposed to treat people? I mean, we’re supposed to love each other. That much is obvious. But there are different ways to demonstrate love, and it varies from person to person.

The Bible has so many practical solutions in its pages, and I’m so thankful. A cerebral answer to a question like that wouldn’t help much. And what’s interesting is that just about everybody knows this particular standard, whether they read (or even believe) the Bible at all.

bench-sea-sunny-man_1473x976Today’s verse is Matthew 7:12.

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Everybody knows the Golden Rule. It’s one of those cultural things we talk about all the time, but even though we talk about it a lot, we don’t always keep to it. Why? Because it’s hard!

It’s really difficult to treat other people with the same regard that you have for yourself. I mean, it’s easy to give yourself another chance when you screw up. After all, you know your own heart. You know you didn’t mean to do it. But when someone else screws up? That’s unacceptable.

We’ve all been there.

But there’s another aspect to the Golden Rule that I hadn’t really considered. The Golden Rule can tell you what matters to other people. It’s not just how you’re supposed to act, but it’s also about how you should treat other people. Maybe those revelations sound identical, but they’re very different.

Let’s say that you are having a really bad day, and your friend brings you flowers to cheer you up. And you appreciate it. It’s thoughtful, but quite honestly, you don’t do flowers. You don’t really like them. And they make you sneeze. So while you are grateful for the thought, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to you.

But stop for a minute and think about what just happened. Your friend wanted to cheer you up, so he/she brought you flowers because flowers mean something to him/her. What does this have to do with the Golden Rule? Well, your friend would want someone to bring him/her flowers on  a bad day, so that’s why he/she did it for you. Now you know that. So tuck it away. Maybe you’d never give someone flowers ordinarily because you find them annoying, but your friend likes them.

People aren’t mind readers, you know, and many times I think we do things for other people based on what makes us happy.

Now, we shouldn’t only do kind things for other people because we want them to be kind to us. We should be kind because God says it’s what we should do. And, truthfully, it’s better if you just communicate with each other. But people don’t really communicate anymore. And even when we do, there’s still some kind of disconnect that prevents us from saying what we really mean. So you have to learn to listen to the things people don’t say.

Maybe what that person in your life did for you doesn’t resonate with your desires. Maybe it wasn’t anything close to what you would do for someone else or what you would expect someone to do for you. But the principle of the Golden Rule is that it’s not about you anyway.

So pay attention to how others treat you and what others do for you. They may be telling you without words how you can be a blessing to them. And there’s really nothing more awesome than being a blessing to someone else.

Each of us is but a breath … so don’t waste it in silence

Wednesday and Thursday of last week were very sad days in Wichita, Kansas. The news broke on Thursday that a well-known personality in our amazing city was murdered in a senseless act of violence. It’s one thing when a celebrity in some other part of the country dies or is killed in a car wreck. It’s something else when it happens to someone who touched your own life, even if it were indirectly.

I didn’t know Tanya Tandoc, but I ate at her restaurant frequently. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is one of those Wichita landmarks that you just have to visit. But beyond her soup and her amazing recipes, from what I am told, Tanya was a really awesome person. And even though I didn’t know her, I feel the city’s loss. I also frequented her brother’s coffee shop–Espresso To Go Go. Both locations. I love their coffee, and everyone inside is always so nice. From what I understand, they had a falling out some time ago, and I’m not sure if they ever made up. Her brother posted a moving, touching statement on Facebook … my heart just hurts for them.

Horrible things happen to good people. The world is broken. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. And it’s a solemn, sobering reminder that if there’s something between you and another loved one–family or not–you should make it right before it’s too late. You might not get another day.

Amazing, beautiful, tasty soups from the incredible Tanya's Soup Kitchen in Wichita, KS

Amazing, beautiful, tasty soups from the incredible Tanya’s Soup Kitchen in Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 39:4-7.

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.
We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.

It’s hard to hold on to hope when bad things happen, but what else can we do? Give up? Sure, you can, but what good does that do? What does that accomplish? And maybe it’s easy to blame God and accuse Him of not caring. He’s an easy target after all, because if He’s so good, why does He let bad things happen?

Well, we know the answer to that. Bad things happen because the world is broken, and we are the ones who broke it. And what our lives come down to is trust–trusting that God is as good as He says He is, trusting that He knows what He’s doing, and that He can bring something beautiful out of tragedy and heartbreak.

It’s easy to get trapped thinking that we have enough time. It’s easy to put stuff off because we can do it tomorrow. But we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We can’t control that. And if we can wrap our heads around it, it would change the way we live. It would change the way we treat people. It would change the way we spend money.

It might be a difficult choice, but isn’t it worth it? If you don’t wake up in the morning, do the people you love know that you love them? Or have you let life and petty squabbles come between you?

Life is brief. Don’t waste it.