December 9, 2013

Don’t Play the Victim Game

Last Saturday, I attended my son’s high school basketball game. As the dad of a varsity player, I get to go in to the locker room before and after the games.  This is a wonderful experience to share with my son and I appreciate the coaching staff facilitating this.  I learn a lot and this game was no exception.

The team won but was distracted by bad calls from referees.  As a parent, I spend a lot of time yelling at refs!  But things got out of hand with the players.  The bad call would cause them to fail to get back on defense or enable a mistake.  The coach said, “Feeling like you are the victim of a bad call or bad ref doesn’t change the reality of the moment.  All it does it causes you to fail.”  he went on to add this life lesson.  “In basketball, it can cost you a game.  But in life, it can cost far more.  Don’t dwell on things you can’t control.  Don’t blame others.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself.  You will face health issues, job problems and financial struggles.  Guess what?  Life is not fair.  Move on.”

I was inspired and challenged by this.  I found the article below that echoed the coaches sentiments.  It’s a good lesson for us all.

Don’t Play the Victim Game

Even in the most extreme situation, feeling victimized isn’t adaptive.
Published on September 30, 2009 by Robert Firestone, Ph.D. in The Human Experience

In Psychological Defenses in Everyday Life, I described a patient who complained that her husband was habitually late for dinner. Dinner was ready at 6:30, but he often came in as late as 8:30 without calling to let her know t

Many people think they are entitled to good treatment. The truth is that they are neither entitled nor not entitled to it. hat he would be late. She asked me, “Is that right?” in a tone that implied that she was the victim of wrongdoing. I tried to explain to her that the key question wasn’t whether it was right or not, although one would tend to agree with her in principle. What she said may have been correct, but in any case, it was irrelevant. I wanted her to see that she was viewing the situation as a passive victim, which was neither productive nor adaptive.

The significant issues are what is going on and how do they feel about it. This woman would have been better off actively facing the facts of the situation and acknowledging her emotional reactions rather than personally judging it and feeling victimized by it.

victimThe woman whose husband was late for dinner had every right to feel angry and to consider practical ac¬tion if she wished, but to try to justify feeling victimized was maladaptive and ultimately meaningless.

Even in the most extreme situation, such as a concentration camp, feeling victimized is not adaptive: Feeling your anger, planning an escape, attempting to survive any and all of these courses of action are preferable to indulging powerless, victimized feelings. Your attitude is a vital factor in determining whether you will survive or perish, succeed or fail in life. Viktor Frankl contended that many of the survivors of German concentration camps were able to endure because they refused to give in to feeling victimized. Instead, although stripped of all their rights and possessions, they used one remaining freedom to sustain their spirit; the freedom to choose what attitude or position they would take in relation to the horror they faced. “It was the freedom to bear oneself ‘this way or that,’ and there was a ‘this or that.'” (Frankl, 1954/1967, p. 94)

Maintaining a child victim role leads to chronic passivity. Victimized feelings are very often appropriate to the child’s situation. Children are without power, are helpless and are at the mercy of their parents. Later as an adult, things happen that are sometimes beyond your control and understanding. However, the adult who is still playing the child victim role responds like the deer that sees a mountain lion approaching and instead of fleeing the danger becomes paralyzed. This person just keeps noticing over and over that the situation is unreasonable, unfair or threatening but doesn’t make the appropriate adaptive responses. In the case of the woman mentioned above, the tip off to the fact that she really preferred the child victim role was that she never made any substantial attempt to change her circumstances. Like so many of us, she would rather feel justified in complaining endlessly about her unfortunate cir¬cumstances while passively registering her dissatisfaction than actively changing her situation.

In facing one’s feelings, it is important to note that feelings do not require any justification. They are automatic responses to favorable and unfavorable events, and people’s feelings cannot be judged as right or wrong. Clean anger is merely proportional to the frustration experience regardless of any rational considerations. It is more advantageous to experience feelings than to deny them or cut them off. However, actions, unlike feelings, have consequences and must be considered in relation to both moral issues and rational reality concerns. Therefore “acting out” emotions, particularly angry emotions, must remain under a person’s control. For example, a feeling of murderous rage can be considered innocent, but to make sarcastic remarks has consequences.

“Victims” deal in judgments and “shoulds” in interactions with others. They operate on the basic assumption that the world should be fair: “I should have been loved by my parents.” “My children should call me or write to me.” “After all that I’ve done for her, the least she could do …” This type of preoccupation with “rights” and “shoulds” is irrelevant to the real problems that we are all faced with; it leads to inward brooding, righteous indignation and vengeful feelings. Worse yet, angry, victimized feelings are bottled up inside, contributing to depression and psychosomatic disorders.

In conclusion, playing the victim is maladaptive. Even though passive manipulations may occasionally work, taking this powerless position hurts the perpetrator and is never in one’s best interests. In the long run, it does more harm than good. People can control their destructive urge to play the victim by acknowledging that their personal world and the external world contain many inequities and social injustices that are discriminatory and unfair to individuals or groups of people, yet they can take power over their lives. Despite these negative circumstances, there are active remedial solutions available to make an effective adaptation.

November 8, 2013

Let’s be “Enthusiastically Engaging”

The article “Banned from church” appeared on the front page of the “Weekend Journal” section of a recent Wall Street Journal. The piece is about churches that are reviving the “ancient” practice of shunning, or expelling members who are believed to be in deliberate conflict with the laws and leadership of their local church.

While I take issue with the story’s tone that suggests that the church is more intimidating than inviting, when I looked more closely, I also found some useful lessons for becoming a more effective communicator for Christ:

Trying to keep people out of church will always win us more publicity than trying to invite people in to church. Accept the fact that church marketing that matters is going to be challenging, creative and often invisible work.

If, as church leaders, we would shift our focus to “enthusiastically engaging” from “strictly enforcing,” then people might believe that the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is real.

A church’s most effective information source is its congregation; be it good news or gossip, they spread the word. Whatever techniques and technology we employ should empower them, not frustrate. Our members are our most valuable marketing partners.

Here’s to hoping that we’ll do more sharing than shunning! If nothing else, it will lead to better coverage in the popular press, the pages read by both believers and seekers.

by Brian Gaffney

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October 25, 2013

The person who says it cannot be done…


September 1, 2013

Worry and Bitterness

“Worry is not believing God will get it right,

and bitterness is believing God got it wrong.”

Tim Keller

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June 23, 2013

Alone in the Ashes, God Speaks to Job

How often have you felt alone?  Abandoned by friends, frustrated by circumstances and feeling defeated.  It is in these moments that God can feel distant.  The reality is that God is always there.  Sometimes it takes us to be in the right place for Him to speak.

Job had been through more than most of us will ever have to face.  His story is one of pain, frustration and suffering.  And yet, at his darkest moment, God dramatically speaks.  God challenges Job’s thoughts, puts him in his place, then picks him up and holds him in his arms.

No matter how dark and hopeless our lives may seem, no matter how alone we may feel, God is there.  Waiting for us to be in the place to be open to Him.  Ask Him to speak to you, He will.  Don’t be alone in the ashes, instead be held tightly in the arms of God.  God always writes the last chapter…

Job 38 – Alone in the Ashes, God Speaks to Job

The setting:  Job sits alone in the ashes of his life.  His family gone, his possessions destroyed his friends condemning him.  A warm wind blows softly as the dust swirls in the air.  Far off in the distance thunder is heard.  As the sound grows louder and the lighting begins to strike, Job feels a presence.  Calmly and powerfully, God moves closer.  Finally, out of the storm, God  spoke to Job.

Key Point: Faith in God is far more important than a desire for understanding.

“O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder consider all, The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout The universe displayed.”


38:1 – Why did God choose to speak now?  Job was broken, he was exactly where he needed to be.  God had his attention.  God spoke at exactly the right time and exactly the right place.

The mark of a good teacher is that He begins where a student has left off.  (parables)

Speak to where people live.

38:2 – Words without wisdom… The sin of speaking without knowledge

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 2:6 – For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding

Proverbs 2:12 – Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse

Proverbs 3:13 – Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding

Proverbs 4:7 – Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 18:4 – The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

James 1:5 –“ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

77 Questions  38:3 -– “Brace yourself”

Can you explain My creation?  38: 4- 38

Pacific Ocean 35,810 Voyager 2 12 years, 4.4 Billion miles to pass w/in 3000 miles of Neptune

Can you oversee My creation?  38:39- 39:30

Job’s response, God rolls on…   40 & 41 – Four views of Suffering

Brace Yourself  “This will hurt me more than you…”

40:6 to 42:6 God continues His speech to Job.  Job listens intently, recognizing his flaws.

40:6 – 40:15 – In a storm vs. out of a storm… Brace Yourself

“I know God, in fact I am God.  Sir, you are no god!”

16-24 – THE HIPPOPOTAMUS by Ogden Nash
Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim
I wonder how we look to him.
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us.
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

41:1-11 – Leviathan, 11 headed sea monster – most likely a crocodile

Are you a Croc Hunter?  Snake Hunter?

12-34 – Nothing on earth is his equal.  Foolish for us to think we can stand up to GOD

Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?  AXIOMATIC!

42:1-4 – Job humbles himself. Job had questioned God’s integrity and justice.

Job was quoting God’s earlier questions (38:3) True faith begins in humility.

Foundations of Faith

5,6 – Don’t wait until you must hear God’s wrath.

Don’t wait until your “eyes have seen”.

Don’t wait until you “despise yourself”

Don’t wait until you are alone in the Ashes…

Repent.  Now. Have Faith.                       

New concept of God.  New attitude.  New relationship.  Restored.

Steps to Repentance:

·      See yourself for what you are

·      Despise the way you are

·      Have a desire to change

·      Recognize that God is in charge

·      Quit trusting yourself and trust God

·      Ask for forgiveness

Fighting the losing battle…  1 John 1:6,7  
6   If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  7   but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Chapter 42 – The Conclusion.  Complete Restoration and a New Relationship.

Job is Restored

42:7 to the end  Recap Study:  15 weeks

Reread 42:1-6 – Job recognizes God’s sovereignty, confesses and repents in the ashes.  God has accomplished His purpose in the life of Job.  Matthew 19:26

42:7 – God was not happy with these guys who spoke. They were WRONG!  They were judging Job without knowing what God was doing.  6 TIMES Job is called “My servant”

8-9 – How do you think God felt about his three friends?  He forgave them and prayed for them

10-11 – AFTER… would the message of the book have changed if Job wasn’t restored?

It may not come in this life, but it will come.  Luke 18:29,0

12-16 – Investments paid off!  Children were doubled because he still had the first ten

Keren-Happuch (eye paint), Keziah (cinnamon) Jemimah (dove) Beauty was valued.

17 – “Old and full of years” The way Abraham, Issac and David died.  A blessing

Happily ever after?  Not always but….  Then, why do we suffer?

·      Punishment for sin?  Repent

·      Satan attacking me?  Call of God for strength

·      Being prepared for special situation or service?  Look at the big picture.

·      Being tested?  Accept help and trust God.

·      Suffering from natural consequences that aren’t your fault?  There is an end in sight.

·      Some unknown reason?  Proclaim the power of God and have FAITH!



June 15, 2013

In our house…

In our house...

February 28, 2013

Culture Wars: Defining the Win


The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
Psalm 110:5-6

If you have been here at Church Whisperer very long at all, you already know I have some issues with what we call the “culture wars”. Specifically, I get a little twisted out of shape sometimes about the church’s role in those culture wars. Here is another angle on that issue. [RANT WARNING] wonder if those of us who expend an extraordinary amount of time and energy and resources on “fighting the culture wars”, i.e., engaged in heated debate with those outside the church over moral issues and trying to legislate morality so that non-Christians everywhere will start acting more like Christians,…I wonder if we have defined in our own minds what, exactly, “winning” this war would look like? What is the objective?

Is the objective to somehow force non-believers to act like believers, i.e., to conform to God’s standards of behavior irrespective of their beliefs about God? Is that a “win”? Or maybe the objective is just to have warned them in advance of their ultimate judgment, so that we have the satisfaction of being right, even when it means they suffer unspeakable judgment?

If it is the former, then I think you see the fallacy. Having a bunch of people walking around ACTING like Christians (conforming to God’s standards of behavior) will probably make for a more peaceful world in the short term, but it would do nothing to spare non-believers from the eternal fate which awaits them. If it is the latter, then we have a problem there as well. When we bash people over the heads with the truth, purely for the sake of winning the fight and being proclaimed right, that is no win at all. When, in our minds, the satisfaction of being right outweighs the horror of God’s judgment on this world, we have lost the most important part of what following Christ means.

When I read Psalm 110 and other scripture describing God’s judgment on a rebellious world, it is horrifying to me. It breaks my heart. When I think about friends (or even enemies, for that matter) who are rebellious toward God and who have little or no respect for His laws, it scares me to consider what awaits them ultimately. And when I stop and ask myself, “what does love look like?” with regard to them…arguing and fighting and going to war and spewing venomous words at them do not even make my radar screen as possible tacks to take. Going to war is not love, and there is no hint at all from Jesus or from any of his teachings that this revolution we call Christianity will be won by winning an argument or by the sway of political power or even by moral persuasion.

Rather, this is a revolution about love for people when it makes no sense to love…about showing grace when it makes no sense to show grace…and about forgiveness when it makes no sense to forgive. As “the church”, we are to keep one eye on Psalm 110 and the judgment which awaits our world and we are to love our lost and broken fellow human beings far too much to be at war with them, and thereby pushing them deeper and deeper into their rebellious positions.

So, what about your participation in the culture wars? Have you yet defined the win there? Is there even a win possible? Or is it time to abandon that front and start fighting in the Christian revolution instead?

© Blake Coffee
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February 8, 2013

30 Ways to Start a Conversation With Your Spouse


by Tracey Eyster

1. My funniest memory of our dating days is when …

2. Our kids would freak out if they knew we …

3. Before we are together in heaven, I pray that here on earth we …

4. I have this memory of you in a certain outfit. Remember …

5. The most scared you have ever been was …

6. The happiest you have ever been was …

7. I remember thinking I was courageous when I was young because I …

8. I used to always wish I could …

9. If I could spend a day just talking to any one person, it would be …

10. I wish I had learned to …

11. I picture us old, sitting in a rocking chair and you looking over at me and saying, “you know what, we never …”

12. If I could spend 24 hours doing anything in the world with you, it would be …

13. I like it best when you refer to me as …

14. The song that always makes me think of you is …

15. My favorite memory of us in our youth is when we …

16. My favorite memory of our wedding day is …

17. My greatest need right now as a woman is to …

18. My greatest need right now as a man is to …

19. If I could have any super power, it would be …

20. If I could eat anything and it not affect my health, I would feast on …

21. If I could have lived during a different time period, it would be …

22. I laugh every time I think of you doing …

23. I would so enjoy reading out loud together …

24. If we could be roadies for any musical talent, I would choose …

25. If I had it to do over, I would propose to you by …

26. The world’s best anniversary trip would be to go to …

27. My favorite photo of us is the one where …

28. Did you know that it scares me so much to …

29. When we fell in love, my favorite thing about you back then was …

30. I feel you love me the most when you …


December 24, 2012

The Meaning of Christmas

December 15, 2012

Take a moment to pray

Along with everyone else in our nation, I was deeply saddened and sickened by the shooting in Connecticut.

Take a moment today to pray.  Consider the teachers, administrators and counselors around the country who will have to deal with questions from young students and concened parents.

My oldest daughter is a first grade teacher.  I am extremely proud of her work, commitment and love for her students.  But there is no way to not have an elevated fear when something like this happens.  Life is not something to be afraid of, but there are tragic realities.

So hug your child a little tighter, speak a word of encouragement to those teaching our kids and pray for those affected, our children, our teachers and our country.

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but have courage–I have conquered the world.” John 16:33