Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Life Isn't Fair



As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg, PA as community life coaches.  A few years ago, my husband began teaching about Believers moving in stealth-mode in order to be more effective in soul winning and discipleship. He said we must learn to operate under the radar, not seeking attention, acclaim or accolades. Then the Lord gave us a powerful way to minister in stealth and under the radar. It was through life coaching. 

God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them see past five categories of lies, according to Dr. Chris Thurman who wrote a book called, The Lies We Believe. The five categories are the self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies that have been received and believed by millions of people.

I have been sharing with you, some of the ways Chris and I are helping people to identify these lies that have held them back. This week, as we continue in our discussion about worldly lies, I want to discuss the lie that says, “Life should be fair!”

We all would prefer the people we have to interact with to treat us fairly; without wondering if they’re being honest with us.  As a child I was taught to treat others fairly and to expect to be treated fairly by most people.  The problem comes when you interact with people who don’t believe or live that way. And then there are things that happen in life that simply are not fair.  

In 1986, after we had our first son, I went back to work after taking the customary six-week maternity leave. I returned to work only to discover that I had been laid off.  My co-workers, knowing that I was coming back to this situation, gave me a baby shower and large item gifts.  The company gave me a two-week severance package.  Life was certainly unfair at that time because we had just bought a house and a second car, and I knew this lay-off would mean the loss of the house or the car since we depended on two salaries to maintain our household expenses.    

I admit to wishing that somehow, something would happen so that we wouldn’t have to lose anything.  Wishing the situation would change didn’t make it change. That was the reality that my husband and I had to accept.  It was very hard, hurtful and embarrassing to accept that I couldn’t find a job in time enough to keep our house and car. It seemed so unfair that we were losing everything while others, who were often wasteful and frivolous with their spending, still had their jobs and vehicles. Why was this happening to us? 
   
King Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes 9:11, “I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”

Simply put, the fastest person does not always win the race, the strongest person doesn’t always win the battle, the wisest person doesn’t always reap the benefits of their wisdom, the person who understands how to obtain riches doesn’t always get the money, and the person with the most skills doesn’t always get chosen to do the job. 

Why does this happen? Solomon says it’s because time and chance can happen. The fastest runner might stumble and lose the race. The strongest person might slip and lose the fight.

The wisest person’s decision might go awry. It might be the wrong time to invest and the financial genius might not see the expected return on their investment. The person with the most skill might be ignored in place of a person who arrives at a job site first. We can find ourselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, and it simply might be a matter of timing and chance.

At the time that company laid me off, they had a last hired, first fired policy. Their industry was suffering due to national economic problems. I was one of many who fell into the last-hired category.  Was it fair to fire me for that?  It was one of those things that was unfair in life and not a personal attack on me.  People from all ethnic groups and ages were laid off as well.  I had to take the time to really look at the situation and choose not to take it personally because it wasn’t personal.  It did not feel fair, but it was prudent for the company’s survival.

As a kingdom of God citizen, how will you handle the unfair situations of your life?  Dr. Chris Thurman, author of the book, The Lies We Believe, gives a few suggestions in handling unfairness when you experience it in life’s circumstances or directly from people:

First, call things what they are, so that the starting point in dealing with unfairness is to call it unfairness.  That may be obvious, but far too often we make excuses for others. We act as though what they did wasn’t unfair, or we call unfairness by some other name just to smooth things over or keep the peace.

Second, allow yourself to feel hurt and angry when something unfair happens.  Notice I said hurt and angry.  I didn’t say bitter, resentful and enraged.  There is a big difference.  It is appropriate to feel hurt and angry when something unfair happens, so let yourself feel these emotions.

Third, decide whether you want to assert yourself and try to correct the unfairness.  Some things are worth speaking up about such as being overcharged for repairing your car because you’re a woman.  Some things are not worth the fight such as someone gets a few more french fries in their order than you did.  There is a time to stand up and say, “I am not going to take this!” and a time to say, “No big deal, I’m gonna let this one slide.”

Fourth, you need to work on not taking what happed personally.  Whether someone intentionally or unintentionally acted unfairly, what happened wasn’t a personal statement about you.  Some of us are so personally insulted when something unfair comes our way, we grossly overreact. Though easier said than done, we must realize that unfairness toward us is not always personal.

That job layoff was one experience in which I learned not to take a decision that went against me as a personal attack.  There will be times that life won’t go as planned and it will feel unfair. We don’t always know all of the variables surrounding the circumstances of our lives, but God does!  Trust Him!  He is fair and He will turn it for your good!


For the least of these, 

Dr. Carol L. Green

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Life Should Be Easy?



A few years ago, my husband began teaching about Believers moving in stealth-mode in order to be more effective in soul winning and discipleship. He said we must learn to operate under the radar, not seeking attention, acclaim or accolades. Then the Lord gave us a powerful way to minister in stealth and under the radar. It was through life coaching. 

God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them see past the self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies that they have received and believed.

I have been sharing with you, some of the ways we are helping people to identify these lies that have held them back. This week, as we continue in our discussion about worldly lies, I want to discuss the lie that says, “Life should be easy!”

We all would like life to be easy and many of us are doing our best to try to make it easier. There are all kinds of gadgets that have been invented to make life easier.  I would hate to be without my microwave, central air conditioning (even though I grew up without it), or the automatic dishwasher.  I would rather not do without them after having the convenience of them for so long.

Of course there is nothing wrong with trying to make every day life as convenient as possible because it saves time while giving us more time to do the things we would rather do.
The problem occurs when we believe the worldly lie that all of life should be easy; that we shouldn’t have to experience difficulties at all. 

This can present a theological problem for some of our readers because of their understanding of what it means to live and walk by faith. Right now, I’m addressing an unhealthy, unrealistic expectation that we have encountered with some of our clients and perhaps some of you, your friends or family members. I’m addressing the thought behind the behavior that triggers a person to run away from any thing or any thought that will produce any kind of pain or discomfort.

We know a young man who married a woman who had a drug addiction. He did so against the advice of his family. He thought he could help her. However, because of her addiction, he lost his house, car and his self-confidence. They eventually divorced. This failure damaged the way he saw himself. He expected marriage to be easy. He expected her healing process to be easy. He had believed that worldly lie (life should be easy) and even used Bible scripture to try to minimize the battles he had taken on. 

We tried to advise him in how to move on with his life, but the only thing he wanted to focus on was how badly he was treated by his ex-wife. To this day, it is very difficult to talk to him about the challenges of everyday life, especially if you disagree with him. He tends to explode and not want to continue the conversation.  He has become resentful and bitter, unwilling to accept or see his part in the relationship’s collapse. Like so many people, he did not anticipate the hard work that is necessary. When life did not unfold with the ease that he expected, he became another one of those people who run away from any conversations or any issues that cause any kind of pain or discomfort.

Dr. Chris Thurman, author of the book The Lies We Believe, says, “Life is not easy. Never has been, never will be.  Whether we like it or not, the fact of the matter is that life is tough.  
The willingness to accept this, truly accept it, helps us to have a life free from bitterness and resentment.  Some people do have it better than we do. But many people, many people, have it a whole lot worse.  And all of us have issues to deal with it.”

One of the revelations my husband presented in a weekly newsletter, is that we live in a fallen world.  My husband wrote:

“We must accept the reality that we live in a fallen, frail and fractured world. We live amongst imperfect people who are making choices and many of those choices affect us and everyone around them.

We live in a world where gas runs out, time moves on, machines wear down, accidents happen, and plans fail. Due to gravity, objects will fall and break.  Human frailty means we can slip or stumble. Sometimes we guess and we guess wrong. Sometimes we assume and circumstances change and our assumption goes awry. Sometimes we miscalculate.

It’s not a demon. It’s not a particular sin. (It’s not even a lack of FAITH). We live in a world in which sin and evil have caused it to be broken and unpredictable.” 

We have seen first-hand that when people reject the concept that we aren’t owed comfort and ease in life, they tend to experience bitterness and resentment in the aftermath of their failed expectations of life.  They begin alienating those around them.

Did you know that our physical bodies respond to the emotions of bitterness and resentment by releasing harmful chemicals into its own systems? That physical response, alone, provides further proof that the worldly lie, “Life should be easy” is nothing more than a set up for more negative consequences that we could not have anticipated.

In life, there are hard times and seasons. We don’t like it when we have to face hard times,
but these moments do something that nothing else can.  When we choose to face and persevere through hard times, it builds intestinal fortitude, our spiritual muscles are strengthened, and we gain experience and wisdom for future challenges.  

Ultimately, we learn to place all of our hope and expectations in Christ alone. This world will continue to be broken and unpredictable, but life in Christ is about experiencing victory, even in a fallen world. 


For the least of these, 

Dr. Carol L. Green

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Your Eternal Worth and Value



As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg, PA as community life coaches. Although we know that we are apostles, sent to this community; and although we know that from time to time, we are also operating in the other four of the five-fold ministry gifts of prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist; we do not use any of these descriptions, titles or distinctions as we go forth in this community. We are simply known as community life coaches who happen to be ordained ministers. That’s all the public knows about us. And we believe that’s how it’s supposed to be for Chris and Carol Green. 

A few years ago, my husband began teaching about Believers moving in stealth-mode in order to be more effective in soul winning and discipleship. He said we must learn to operate under the radar, not seeking attention, acclaim or accolades. Then the Lord gave us a powerful way to minister in stealth and under the radar. It was through life coaching. 

God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them see past five catgories of lies, according to Dr. Chris Thurman who wrote a book called, The Lies We Believe. Those five categories are the self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies that have been received and believed by millions of people.

I have been sharing with you, some of the ways Chris and I are helping people to identify these lies that have held them back. This week, as we continue in our discussion about worldly lies,
I want to uncover the lie that says, “My worth is determined by my performance.”

There are many people who connect their personal worth and value to how well they perform and how much their work performance is appreciated by the people in their jobs, careers, families, schools, churches, etc.  For nine years, I worked in Pennsylvania's state government and the yearly performance review was very important. A successful evaluation could mean a promotion and higher wages.  

I strove to build a good work ethic by becoming an employee that was reliable and easy to work with.  It made me feel good to have my work ethic appreciated by my immediate supervisor and coworkers.  However, I had an internal fight to make sure that my personal self-worth was not connected to my desire to be appreciated for my work ethic.  My employment value would have been in question, had I not been able to fulfill the job requirements, but not my personal worth and value.

In our culture, when a person does well in their chosen field, they are highlighted as someone to emulate in order to achieve similar success in our lives; in order to make our lives worthwhile to society.  Unfortunately, success has been redefined as having worth. If you’re successful, then you are worth honor, awards, money and fame.  So we go about our lives trying to earn and build success in order to build our personal worth and value.  

In his book, The Lies We Believe, Dr. Chris Thurman relates a story about a pre-med student by the name of Kathy Ormsby:  

Kathy Ormsby was also an honor student and track star at North Carolina State University.  She was the collegiate record holder in the women’s ten thousand meter run.  Something unexpected happened during the 1986 NCAA track and field championship race.  Kathy fell behind and couldn’t seem to catch the front-runner.  In a startling move, she ran off the track and out of the stadium to a nearby bridge, where she jumped off.  The forty foot fall permanently paralyzed her from the waist down.  

Without knowing Kathy personally, it can only be presumed that the pressure she put on herself to be perfect coupled with a tendency to equate her worth with performance created a level of misery she couldn’t handle.  Many of us struggle with those two issues – having to be perfect and having personal worth dictated by achievement – reach a point of total despair, even suicide, when we experience failure.

Dr. Thurman asked several questions that we all need to answer: 
• How can we find a stable sense of worth in a world that focuses on what we do, instead of who we are?  
• Who are you apart from what you do? 
• Do you have to “do” to have worth, or are you clear yet that you ”are” a person of innate worth because of whose image you bear?  

We live in a world that promotes a message that is hard to ignore; that constantly communicates that our worth is found in what we do and in how well we perform.  

What is it that truly gives a person worth? The TRUTH is that we all have worth and value because we have been made in the likeness and image of God.  In Psalms 139:14 it states that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made by our heavenly Father who created the universe. According to Dr. Thurman, we have been formed by an eternal God and therefore, we have eternal worth and value that has nothing to do with performance, achievements and our various definitions of success.

And I’ll add a side note to address America’s ethnic and skin-color wars: Everyone’s value and worth is equal! We are all priceless! God made us diverse and unique for specific purposes.
Therefore, never say that you don't see color and you don't see differences. Yes, we see them. Yes, we can acknowledge them. We just don't have to let those differences divide us.

Chris and I personally understand the history and heartache of many people in the Black Lives Matter movement. We also understand the pushback from the All Lives Matter crowd! But the key is for all to discover their true worth and value in God through Jesus Christ. Then we can all begin to work through our negative history in this country from God's perspective; from a Kingdom of God world view.    

Of course, living in a world that is constantly pushing a belief and agenda that is contrary to our Creator can be difficult.  We have to constantly reinforce the truth taught in the word of God by reading it, believing it, and walking it out daily. We must choose daily to receive the grace and truth that is available to us. That's where we find our eternal worth and value.


For the least of these, 

Dr. Carol L. Green

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

You Can Have It All?



As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg, PA as community life coaches. Although we know that we are apostles, sent to this community; and although we know that from time to time, we are also operating in the other four of the five-fold ministry gifts of prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist; we do not use any of these descriptions, titles or distinctions as we go forth in this community. We are simply known as community life coaches who happen to be ordained ministers. That’s all the public knows about us. And we believe that’s how it’s supposed to be. 

A few years ago, my husband began teaching about Believers moving in stealth-mode in order to be more effective in soul winning and discipleship. He said we must learn to operate under the radar, not seeking attention, acclaim or accolades. Then the Lord gave us a powerful way to minister in stealth and under the radar. It was through life coaching. 

God has been using this aspect of our ministry to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them see past the lies that they have received and believed.

We have been presenting you several quotes from Dr. Chris Thurman, author of the book, The Lies We Believe. He categorizes the lies we believe as Self-Lies, Worldly Lies, Marital Lies, Distortion Lies and Religious Lies. Last week we introduced the topic of Worldly Lies. This week, I want to focus on a very specific worldly lie that says, ‘You can have it all.’

There are many things I have wanted in life, but just being able to attain my short list of wants has been impossible.  In my process of living, I have found that we don’t really NEED everything that we WANT. Most of the time, fulfilling those wants would have been self-destructive.

To have what we want isn’t always what we actually need.  Coming to the realization that everything we want isn’t healthy for us, is a major life lesson and it is not one that everyone has come to accept.

One of the most insidious lies we are told in the world today is that we can have it all. Whatever avenue the world chooses to communicate this message, through the various forms of media, the concept that we can have it all in life is totally ridiculous.  

Do you remember the old 1970’s commercial in which a woman sings, ‘I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never ever let you forget you’re a man, because I’m a woman!’? Unfortunately, many women, over the last 40 years, have tried to live out those lyrics by trying to have a full-time career, a husband and children, all while trying to take care of a household and attempting to have time for themselves.  

I’m not addressing those women who were forced into this situation. Nor am I making a moral or social commentary on those who made this attempt. I’m simply pointing out the ultimate fallacy of the attempt to have it all. Over the decades it was found that no one could maintain the balance in juggling all these desires and wants successfully.  

Saying YES to one thing most certainly means saying NO to something else.  Saying yes to the job promotion can mean spending more time at work than you do at home, and that decision affects the relationships between spouses, and between parents and children.  Saying yes to the career can mean saying no to school recitals and no to the children’s sporting events. It can mean spending less time with a spouse; not being able to discuss the issues of life as they happen.  Tensions arise, frustration is felt, and there is distance in family relationships simply because issues aren’t able to be dealt with as they arise.

As human beings, when we receive the object of our desire, we still want more. Obtaining what we want doesn’t satisfy us. We always want more.  This lie ‘you can have it all’ devalues life because it has us focusing on what we want instead of enjoying what we already have. We fail to appreciate the most important things in everyday life such as waking up, having family who love and support us, having a place to live, or being able spend time with our children.

Dr. Thurman sets forth the example of King Solomon, the wisest, richest, and most influential king of Israel. He presents Solomon, who explored the ‘you can have it all’ lie, as a case study.

In Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 King Solomon talks about what having everything is really like. He says:

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.  I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor.

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. 

King Solomon set his heart to seek and search out wisdom concerning all that is done under the sun (Ec. 1:13) and saw the absurdity, frustration, futility, nonsense and emptiness of trying to be happy apart from God.  

In trying to gain power, popularity, prestige or pleasure there is nothing that can fill the God-shaped void in man’s life except God himself.  Eat, drink, rejoice, do what is good, live joyfully, fear God, and keep His commandments. When you live this way, skepticism and despair will not remain part of your life. We must choose to view life daily as a gift from God.

Philippians 4:12 says, I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  

Dr. Thurman says, “We can learn how to be happy with little or a lot, enjoying life’s daily joys as we would a feast.” 

For the least of these, 

Dr. Carol L. Green