Stolen from my sister’s blog: From Our Backyards
It’s been said before that kindergarten is just a little microcosm of the real world (“all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten…”). Well, this week things are really falling apart for my kindergartener. Up to this point, my son had been sitting on the “T” of the big rectangular kindergarten carpet (for large group and story time, etc.). I guess the teacher decided to change the seating arrangement and now he is sitting on the “Q”. This is a horrible thing because each letter also has a picture next to it, and Q has a queen. Queens, of course, are the very last thing that six-year-old boys want to sit on or next to. His little world has simply fallen apart! My first response was a desire to call the teacher and ask her to put a girl on the “Q”. My husband is much wiser than I. Will admitted that it isn’t very fun for a boy to have to sit on the “Q”, but he pointed out to our son that God was in control when He allowed our son to be put on the “Q”. My boy’s job now is to love whoever sits on the “P” and the “R”.
– Amy Hatfield
Yesterday, my four-year-old son accidentally spilled a full gallon of white paint down the carpeted stairs in our house. As I happened upon this mess, I thought of this quote from Dave Harvey’s book When Sinners Say I Do . My response wasn’t perfect but it was tempered by the realization that the idols in my heart were being exposed (my personal comfort, my desire for a perfect house, my plan to do something “profitable” with my day).
Not long ago, my son started the lawnmower with the oil cap loose. Once the engine heated up, the poor kid struck oil. And it was a geyser! Since I don’t change the oil often (read: never), a slimy black sludge erupted from the engine, covering the lawnmower, my son, and everything within a six-foot radius. (It’s because of stuff like this that I don’t cut grass.)
This might be a helpful illustration for understanding the operation of remaining sin. Original sin filled the “engine” of our hearts with the “oil” of depravity–dark, greasy, and staining everything it touches. Circumstances come along and heat the engine. When the engine is hot–when events in our lives test our hearts by stirring anger, lust, greed, etc.–whatever is in the engine spews out. The heat (the circumstances did not fill the engine with oil, it simply revealed what was in the engine.
Experienced any heat lately?…
Have you ever considered why there are no accounts of Jesus slamming a door in angry frustration or inflicting the “silent treatment” on someone who hurt him? Why didn’t Jesus get irritated or bitter or hostile? The simple but astounding answer is that when his engine was heated by circumstances, what was in his heart came out: love, mercy, compassion, kindness, Christ didn’t respond sinfully to the circumstances in his life–even an undeserved, humiliating, torturous death–because the engine of his heart was pure. What was in his heart spilled over. It was love!
I should have thought to take a “before clean-up picture”. This was after about an hour-and-a-half with a Rug Doctor. – Amy Hatfield
My daughter and I watched a movie this week that ended with those famous fairy tale words “and they lived happily ever after.” I felt compelled to ask her, “Do you think they really lived happily ever after? Do you think they ever fought with each other? Do you think the princess ever sinned?” Cinderella-type stories always end at the wedding. We are not given the opportunity to find out how the princess and the prince relate when it comes to toothpaste tubes and dirty socks. Recently I finished reading a book that starts where Cinderella left off. When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage is an excellent new marriage resource by Dave Harvey, pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA. In this book, the author exposes the root problem in most marital conflict–that each spouse is still a sinner. In reality, this book is not simply about marriage; it’s about relationships between any two fundamentally flawed people. In marriage, as in any earthly relationship, it is the realization of the horrific and deadly nature of our sin that allows us to experience the glory God’s grace and power to change. Dave Harvey spends the first half of this book unpacking the baggage that we carry into marriage, usually revealed quickly, often even on the honeymoon. Contrary to what many current marriage books propose, the “baggage” that we carry into marriage is not love tank needing to be filled, but a sinful nature unable to see beyond our own selves, much less capable of meeting an other’s emotional “needs”. He teaches spouses to inspect themselves, suspect themselves, and recognize the self-righteousness that allows us to act as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Most of us, as marriage partners are incredibly good at justifying our actions and attitudes, but this focus on sin is the most important part of the book because, as Harvey notes, “when sin becomes bitter, marriage becomes sweet.” The second half of the book is God’s refreshing answer to our dilemma. Sweet marriage is possible because of the gospel, because of mercy, because of forgiveness. When Sinners Say I Do is chock-full of great quotes and illustrations. I’ll share a few here in the next few days.
– Amy Hatfield
Ministry is about people. It does not take a very long time in ministry to recognize that people have conflicts. We’ve used the peacemaking principles in the book, The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande, in our church. This is an exerpt from an excellent article on the Peacemaker Ministries website about getting to the heart of conflict.
When faced with conflict, we tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
The heart’s central role in conflict is vividly described in James 4:1-3. If you understand this passage, you will have found a key to preventing and resolving conflict.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
This passage describes the root cause of destructive conflict: Conflicts arise from unmet desires in our hearts. When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, the desire turns into a demand. If someone fails to meet that desire, we condemn him in our heart and quarrel and fight to get our way. In short, conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and punish those who get in our way. Let us look at this progression one step at a time.