Archive | August 2012

Last Word Games

Were you watching the RNC? I’m not going to weigh in on which political party is right or wrong. My observation centers on how these political conventions run and what the media does. After all, I’ve lived through thirteen USA Presidents!

We saw convention delegates cheering keynote speakers, followed by comments from news people? Then, at times, we’d see a shift into Last Word Games. The agendas flew, depending on the media person or the guest they invited to comment on these speakers. It’s almost like watching the Green Bay Packers play the Dallas Cowboys. What sport it is! Who will win the last word game as the clock ticks down?

Sometimes I see this game played when counseling marriages. “No I didn’t say that!” “Yes you did and…..” then the one upping starts. Wish I could say I haven’t played the last word game but I can’t.

Grade school kids play it when they argue with other kids about whose number one. Then insults fly and we might hear something like “Your mother wears combat boots!” Wish I was making this up but I actually remember hearing that when I was a kid. Those were fighting words!

The rule for Last Word games is “I’ll get control. I’ll run the show and if you don’t let me, I’ll hurt you with a blow.” These games always spring from lickety-split games where fearful thinking threatens the last word game player. Then “Boom!” this individual starts acting like a big shot, tough, sneaky or slick person – it’s not what they’re saying as much as what they’re not saying that controls you. How manipulative is that thinking!

Here’s something I do to mind this gap. On the spot, I called it out in a matter of fact manner. Then, I’ll encourage the hard work of letting others think for themselves, which is what Jesus did with Pilate in John 18:34 by asking “Is this your own question, or did someone tell you about me?” He respects others who own their own choices and conclusions. There’s no need to play this last word game when that happens. Thoughts?

Lickety Split Games

Maybe you’ve heard the Bible quoted that God doesn’t give people the spirit of fear. What does that mean? Certainly it doesn’t refer to experiencing the emotion of fear because we all do.

The spirit of fear is what I call “fearful thinking.” It’s about irrational perceptions or having profound fears about death, injury or being put down by others.

I was in the Lava Caves in Bend OR with my six-year-old grandson. It can be a hundred degrees outside but in those caves, it’s cold and dark! We had to have a lantern. Nothing was wrong until we went a mile into the caves. For a moment I turned the lamp off to experience the darkness. Whoa! We both felt the emotion of fear. I quickly turned the light back on.

Then my grandson said he wanted to wait for more people with lanterns. His imagination got the best of him about bats in the cave etc and maybe he thought I’d turn the light back off.

I bent down toward him and said, “I won’t turn the light off again. Will you trust me?” He did and holding his hand, we started going deeper into the cave. Once we returned to the surface, he was glad. He was ecstatic. Actually I was too. We were warm again.

Lickety Split game players find ways to avoid being afraid at all cost. They won’t ever admit they’re afraid. They’ll avoid being held accountable for anything and feeling lousy if they can’t be in control. They trust no one.

Jesus willingly made himself nothing by entering a dark cave of death for our sins on a cross. Did he experience the emotion of fear? I think he did. Did he have the spirit of fear? No. There was a balance between experiencing the emotion of fear and understanding fearful thinking. How do I know that? He chose to trust the Father even when a question he asked wasn’t answered. Three days later the Bible states he arose from that grave.

Where do you find balance when feeling afraid verses thinking about being afraid?

BTO Games

I have a bias. Without a future there is no hope and without a past there is only the present.

Ever been in relationship with someone who had great talent, a great personality and great potential but its squandered? It blows the mind doesn’t it? Some may say, “Oh they have an addictive personality” as if to mean it is what it is. I don’t buy that.

Before my father came to faith in Jesus Christ, he spent time in prison. He said new inmates were called fish who were schooled by the BTO’s or Big Time Operators. Those guys acted as consultants hearing the details of their crimes and offering advice so those dumb cops on the outside wouldn’t catch them again. My father said that amazed him because all the wise guys were on the inside and all those dumb cops were on the outside!

The BTO Game is about not learning from past mistakes; expecting what they want when they want it; and making decisions based on assumptions and not the facts. Twisted!

All the BTO game player has is the present. Living in the present means without instant gratification, they have NOTHING! So, their life becomes focused on forbidden excitement or a demand for immediate satisfaction. I believe that’s why some people lock themselves into emotional childhoods. If we look past their personality or potential we’ll see that in their core, they’re choosing to be kids and foolish to boot.

The development of impatient thinking happens early in life and under the radar. Suddenly – the ones we love can be in trouble or are gone. And for what? Just to play the BTO game! How sad is that?

Jesus said, “….I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37 NLT Pursuing truth involves the total picture, our past, our present and hope in the future. Anything less sets up the BTO game. What do you think about the truth factor correcting this game? For me, the truth factor starts with and is Jesus, who can set us free from the twistedness of thinking we’re Big Time Operators.

My Gain-Your Pain Game

Ever been in a relationship with someone where you felt if a new model came along, they’d trade you in for a new one? I often hear from married couples how one partner or the other thinks and feels their spouse doesn’t have their backs. If they haven’t accomplished the task of leaving their father and mother and cleaving unto each other, I’ll especially hear that.

This whole thought about obligation to someone verses being obligated by someone is central to the My Gain–Your Pain game. The person playing this game makes sure the rule of obligating others to them instead of being obligated to others stays in tack to get the win. They must be the “main man.”

Whatever this game player does is reckless. They’ll do dangerous things even if they know others could be hurt. They know how not to do things and pull on people who will do what they won’t do.

Here’s how children play the game with their parents. “Dad, is it alright if I stay overnight with my best friend?” Dad says “No.” Then the child starts acting like they’ve been victimized by the parent. Come to find out, that overnight deal was already established by the child and best friend as a sure thing, but dad got in the way of their goal. The result! The parent gets the pain. If permission isn’t granted the kid is out of there with an egotistical bitterness that says if I can’t go, then you can’t be happy either. Pretty exciting stuff huh?

Jesus never played that game. When it came to being responsible whether it was unexciting and unsatisfying, he was into relationship for the long haul. Out of love, he actually obligated himself to us. It was his pain-our gain; a risk on his part, because he couldn’t guarantee he’d be loved back. No one controlled or victimized him. He was in control of his choice.

In minding the gap for a My Gain-Your Pain game, what thoughts would you share about obligating ourselves to people instead of obligating them to us?

Lazy Games

Minding the gap for lazy games is all about understanding stubborn thinking. Here’s a rhyme to help. I won’t push myself to do whatever it takes. A lack of effort is all I make. 

My six-year-old grandson loves playing on the computer. Scary huh? I mean when it comes to games like MineCraft or Roblox his energy level is high and, if we let him, it takes no effort for him to play the whole day. But all of a sudden, when nana or papa say it’s time to stop and pick up his room – actually work – it can be like trying to move the Rock of Gibraltar. We get grunts, groans, and a grinding resistance. The Lazy Game is on! Ever been there with kids?

Well it can happen with anyone, adults too. In my book Transforming Twisted Thinking I call this a shackle of immaturity. I wish I could say I have this licked in my life but I can play the game well. Particularly, if I believe anything to be boring and no fun. This idea of giving myself to the difficult isn’t as easy as I think I’d like it to be. See, even there I’m wrestling with a lazy game.

I’m reminded how Jesus did the most difficult thing. While we were yet sinners, he died for us. Redemption, reconciliation and restoration was and is hard work. Why? Because he loved and actually likes us but he knew we couldn’t get that work done, even if we tried. He’d have to sacrifice himself.

Now that isn’t a quantum leap to go from the story about my grandson to the cross of Christ. Lazy games say I will only do a little when I’m good and ready. Minding this gap is about giving the effort no matter what! Whatever it takes is what Jesus modeled. Do you think this resonates in your world too?

%d bloggers like this: