Friday, March 30, 2012

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Eleven

Section Two: Australia
Chapter Eleven

The six hour flight from Singapore to Darwin, Australia left plenty of time to sit and reflect on life, love, theology, and anything else. The flight attendant (a male in this case) checked the manifest and wished me and my travel companions a pleasant flight (or was he flirting) before lowering the lights so passengers could sleep if they so desired. But who could snooze at a time like this? I was headed to the land of crocks and mozzies (well, that was Darwin anyway)…then on to the Great Barrier Reef! Sunshine, beaches, and relaxation…here I come!

My father was a missionary while I was growing up and told me of a mission trip in the Bahamas where his “breakfast of champions” was lobster and a soft drink. My mind swirled with thoughts of seafood, kangaroos, koalas, laughing kookaburras, crystal clear water, the reef, umbrella drinks, and the sand between my toes. No schedules to keep. No long work hours. No bus ride to and from the job site everyday…(though I was really going to miss my buddy with whom I sat daily. He once told me he was my biggest fan and I adored him!)

Thoughts wandered to God. Who or what is He? (I feel this is a legitimate question for each person to answer.) Is God relative, contingent upon an individual’s understanding…like (another hot topic which is also highly controversial) abortion? When does life begin? Is it at conception or at birth? Is a baby in utero a human being or just a bunch of cells? Is God a trinity made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Or, is God the universe? (He is everywhere, all knowing, and all powerful.) Did God create man or the other way around? Is the bible truly the Word of God or stories passed down from one generation to the next? I know there are some skeptics just as there are opposing sides of the abortion argument…mainly prolife and prochoice, of course. Faith, I suppose, consists primarily of believers and unbelievers. Personally, I am a believer (and I do not wish any disrespect or offense to others who hold different beliefs). All that I say is simply MY, personal comprehension of God, His Son, and His character. We might agree on the matter…or disagree. Regardless, we can (and should) be loving and kind to one another.

My eyelids become heavy and I must have dozed off because next thing I know the lights are back on and the aircraft is descending. Here comes the steward again…and he’s smiling at us. Okay, I really think he is interested in one of us. (Oh, and did I tell you about the time an airline associate gave me his phone number? He had written it on a piece of paper and quickly passed it to me before the doors were closed for takeoff. No joke, he hurried down the ramp, came onto the 747 just to hand me the note, and then swiftly exited with only moments to spare. It was totally bazaar, ballsy, maybe even an act you would see in a movie but something I doubt I will ever forget.)

The airport in Darwin is small but was just a stopping point, for me. It is a brisk hop to Cairns. I look out the window and think to myself, “Yep, crocks and mozzies.” The land strikes me as tall grass and swamp land. I cannot help but wonder if one can see the red reflective eyes of crocodiles from this place at night. But, I do not want to hang around and find out.

Our hotel in Cairns was exquisite…far nicer than I anticipated! The luxurious lobby hosted a charming concierge and representatives selling day tours. We headed straight for the restaurant to grab a bite to eat before checking out our rooms and having a look around the area. The whole dining room was yellow---the walls, the table cloths, everything---and deserted. We were the only ones there. Where was everyone? Was it not lunchtime? One of my cohorts and I decided to order the kangaroo.

“How would you like that prepared?” asked the server. “The longer it is cooked the ‘stringier’ it becomes. I would not recommend it well done.”

“Then I’ll have it medium well,” I answered.

When our meals arrived they looked harmless enough. It resembled beef but I wondered if it was going to taste like chicken. I was told that is what alligator is like…greasy chicken. Each of us put a piece on the tip of our fork and leaned in as if we were going to feed each other but instead wrapped our arms around an extra twist to feed ourselves. Not bad. The taste and texture was similar to that of cow.

My friend and her boyfriend shared a room while I had a big, stunning room with a king sized bed all to myself. We were up on the seventh floor and the view from my balcony was breathtaking.

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Eleven

Bullying: Part Ten - From Where Does My Help Come?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13.)

Condition Your Body

When I first started martial arts certain techniques hurt. "Don't worry," I was told, "You won't even feel it after a while." And that is true. My arms and legs are getting used to being hit and are "toughening up". I "condition" my hands when I punch on my heavy bag and my shins when I "roundhouse" kick it.

Personally, I highly recommend kickboxing and Kenpo (Kajukenbo - Karate, Judo [/jujitsu], Kenpo, Boxing). Not only is it fulfilling exercise, I feel a sense of security in knowing how my body can be used as "a weapon" should the need ever arise. (Not to say I would definitely be successful in chasing off an attacker, but at least now I can form a plan of action in my mind and execute it.)

Sometimes Support Systems Fail. Don't Give Up!

Sometimes when it comes to bullying, we have to police the situation ourself and/or be our own "bodyguard". There are times when a support system, the body of Christ, individuals placed in authority, etc. are going to fail. Just recently a child died at the hands of a bully/abuser. The mother reported she had tried to draw attention to the situation but to no avail. Do NOT give up! "Where there is a will, there is a [legal] way."

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8 ESV)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bullying: Part Nine - Being Bullied is Tiring

Ever wonder what happens to the body when it does not get enough rest and time to recuperate? It shuts down for maintenance.

If one is being bullied relentlessly the body does not get the reprieve needed for "repairs" and rejuvenation. (I will use a soldier in battle to illustrate this.)

Get Enough Sleep

In his book ON COMBAT, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman states,
"A person deprived of sleep for 24 hours is virtually the physiological and psychological equivalent of being legally drunk. Dr. Jacques Gouws...makes the point... 'The soldier in combat is physically and emotionally significantly more fatigued because of the duration of the sustained military combat operations.'... Dr. Bryan Vila tells about one study which showed that sleep-deprived people scored as badly or worse on reaction-time tests as those with a blood-alcohol level of .10 percent, a percentage deemed legally drunk in all states."(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 25.)

It is my opinion, someone who is bullied (is similar to a soldier in combat or a police officer) in he/she is operating in a high stress situation which can weigh heavily on a person and be utterly exhausting. Not to mention the bullied individual might not be sleeping well at night, causing a "sleep debt", which is statistically unhealthy.

Eat Healthy

"...research shows that sufficient sleep, combined with a nutritious diet, lots of fluids and exercise are critical for a long and healthy life." (Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. Warrior Science Publications. Pg. 23.)

Maintain a healthy diet. Further, stay at the "top of your game". Consuming alcohol, taking certain medication, and/or indulging in illegal substances cloud judgement and put you at risk. (Obviously, stop illegal activity!) And refrain from the others especially if there is a chance bullying will take place while you are under the influence. Depending on the type of bullying, being impaired could, of course, cost you greatly!

Renew Your Mind

Verbal and emotional (or mental) bullying is, in my opinion, just as bad as (if not worse than) a physical beat down. So, I feel positive renewal is imperative! In "Pretty Woman", (Yes, I am going to quote a movie.) actor Julia Roberts says, "The bad stuff is easier to believe." All the more reason to saturate yourself with good stuff. May I recommend the word of God! It is bursting with encouragement, descriptive, and prescriptive verses to heal even the deepest wounds! Scriptures speaks against oppression! Look at what happened when God's people were "bullied" by Pharaoh (Exodus), or to Abigail's husband who is described as a "harsh and badly behaved" man (1 Samuel 25) , or to Haman (Esther)! God took vengeance (which He says is His! We are to "be angry and sin not".)

To be continued tomorrow when I will address 1. Conditioning your body and 2. When support systems (those you look to for help) fail. Until then, BE WISE and be safe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bullying: Part Eight - The Body's Reponse to a "Highly Stressful Survival Situation"

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11 ESV)

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I keep saying this because I feel it is important to remember. Sometimes the body and its response to things is difficult to understand. But no matter what, God knit us together in our mother's womb and our bodies (though bound by the flesh) are phenomenal.

When placed in a "highly stressful survival situation", whether it is being bullied, a car accident, a "natural disaster", an act of terrorism, etc. the body is going to go through a "survival mode" (if you will) process.

In his book ON COMBAT, author Lt. Col. Grossman states,
"Research shows that if you have a 'load' in your lower intestines during a highly stressful survival situation, it's going to go." (Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. War Science Publications. Pg. 9)
That is just the way it is. Further, the mind could also be affected. Lt. Col. Grossman goes on to explain,
"Very few people know about this. While everyone knows about the valiant dead, most people, even professional warriors, do not know about the greater number of individuals who were quietly taken out of the front lines because they were psychiatric casualties. This is another aspect of combat that has been hidden from us, and it is something we must understand." (Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. War Science Publications. Pg. 12)

Why do I feel this applies to bullying? Because it is my opinion being threatened and/or emotionally or physically harmed could reasonably put one in "survival mode". So, the body will, a. Empty the lower intestine and bladder, b. Could experience mental distress, and c. Shut down for maintenance after the fact...(also known as an adrenaline dump and parasympathetic backlash).

Regarding this, Lt. Col. Grossman writes,
"Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, a retired police supervisor and a psychologist, trains police officers on what he calls 'emotional survival.'. He talks about how the parasympathetic backlash can impact warriors every day. While they are at work, their sympathetic nervous system is ascendant and they are alive, alert, energetic, and involved. When they go home, the parasympathetic backlash hits and they become tired, detached, isolated and apathetic. The greater the excitement at work, the greater the potential for a backlash that can debilitate them in their home life and destroy their family." (Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. War Science Publications. Pg. 18)

I feel the same can be said for children at school (especially if they are being bullied regularly).

To help me grasp the effect and heartache caused by enemies and/or "battle", I read the writings of the Psalmist, David, who sounds very familiar with being bullied.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!

For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;

I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
(Psalm 102:1-11 ESV)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bullying: Part Seven - Deliver From the Hand of the Oppressor Him Who Has Been Robbed

...And life is colour and warmth and light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.
- Julian Grenfell

Extreme Stress is an Emotional and Physical Carnivore

When violence does happen to us, it devastates us. It shatters us. Most of us approach every strange dog we meet with an expectation that it might bite. Likewise, most of us expect snakes to strike. That's what they do! But we do not expect that one of the millions of Americans we interact with in an average lifetime will try to kill us. We simply cannot lead our lives expecting that every human we meet might try to kill us.

So when someone does try to kill us, it is simply not right and, if we are not careful, it can destroy us....any time the casual factor of a stressor is human in nature, the degree of trauma is usually more severe and long lasting.... In other words, when it is another human being who causes our fear, pain and suffering, it shatters, destroys and devastates us.

Unchecked, extreme stress is an emotional and physical carnivore.
(Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col. ON COMBAT. 2008. War Science Publications. Pgs. 3-4.)

Lt. Col. Grossman suggests "natural disasters" are easier for us to process than violations against us by other human beings. To understand this I look to Cain and Abel. Cain committed the most grievous offense against his brother in murdering him... one likewise in the image of God.

"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
(Genesis 9:6 ESV)

But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. (Exodus 21:14 ESV)

"You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13 ESV)

If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
(Revelation 13:10 ESV)

So, I feel it stands to reason a harmful act against us made by another individual would be most upsetting to us and highly displeasing to God whatever the circumstance...even bullying.

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bullying: Part Six - The Lord is Near to the Brokenhearted

In 80 (eighty) percent of crimes committed, the person targeted knows the offender.

This statistic was brought to my attention by a guest speaker (in a continuing education class I organized and attended) when I was a court appointed child advocate. I am guessing the other 20 (twenty) percent is made up of (though not limited to) crimes involving 1. individuals under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, 2. sociopaths, and perhaps even 3. accidents (involuntary manslaughter cases, etc.).

For me, that is pretty staggering!

I recall seeing a program on television where there was an unsolved murder and the police just could not solve it. Come to find out (only because the attacker finally confessed) the one responsible was the boyfriend of the victim's best friend. He had been a part of the investigation from day one and had even been sitting by his girlfriend during an interview where she stated she was hopeful the murderer would one day come forward!

Not the Average

When authors, speakers, etc. comment, advise, instruct, etc. on relationships, I feel they are referring to "the average" ones and not those including bullies. I say this because books about healthy relationships are good (in my opinion) but may be a little discouraging or even offensive to someone who is bullied regularly. To those individuals I highly recommend the word of God which says to expel the offender if necessary, exercise forgiveness and self control, and BE WISE!

Pastors John Piper and Mark Driscoll, both, have excellent resources touching on forgiveness and submission...what it is and what it is NOT. Below are videos of their messages and links to the written version on each website.

"The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission" by John Piper
What Submission Is Not

Here are six things it is not based on 1 Peter 3:1-6.

1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says.
2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar.
3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband.
4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ.
5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband.
6. Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear.


"Ten Things Forgiveness is Not" by Mark Driscoll
10 Things Forgiveness Is Not

What happens when you’re not the one who sinned but you were the one who was sinned against? What do you do then? In this week's sermon on Luke 11:1-4...
1. Forgiveness is not approving or diminishing sin.
2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
3. Forgiveness is not denying a wrongdoing.
4. Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology.
5. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
6. Forgiveness is not ceasing to feel the pain.
7. Forgiveness is not a onetime event.
8. Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
9. Forgiveness is not trusting.
10. Forgiveness is not reconciliation.

Further, I am going to begin reading through (and blogging about) Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's book ON COMBAT: THE PSYCHOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF DEADLY CONFLICT IN WAR AND IN PEACE. God created us in His image, for His glory. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. So, what happens to us, physically and mentally, when we are "under fire" whether it is as a police (peace) officer, soldier (peacekeeper), or the target of constant bullying? How can one expect his/her body to respond in the heat of a traumatic event or sustain itself under continuous stress? ON COMBAT (though secular) offers thought provoking answers. God grants us wisdom when we ask for it and "Knowledge is power" against a bully.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18 ESV)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bullying: Part Five - Resources for Understanding Some Types of Bullying

I have not read up on ALL of the subcategories of bullying but because of my work as a volunteer court appointed child advocate I did come across some fantastic books in the areas of child abuse/domestic violence and I was recently told of an excellent resource for self defense. Remember, "Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other including school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods." (Wikipedia)

Child Abuse/Domestic Violence

DEATH BY CHILD ABUSE AND NO ONE HEARD (The Ursula Sunshine Assaid Story) by Eve Krupinski and Dana Weikel (secular) Note: This is the book that started it all for me. After reading it I knew I wanted to fight against bullying.

A CHILD CALLED IT by Dave Pelzer (secular)

THE LOST BOY by Dave Pelzer (secular)

A MAN NAMED DAVE by Dave Pelzer (secular)

WHITE OLEANDER by Jane Fitch (secular)

Self Defense

ON COMBAT, THE PSYCHOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF DEADLY CONFLICT IN WAR AND IN PEACE by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen (secular) Note: I have not read this one yet but it did come highly recommended.

Sin

RESPECTABLE SINS: CONFRONTING THE SINS WE TOLERATE by Jerry Bridges (bible based)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Faith. Hope. Love: Part One - Singapore

Whether you have been following this non-fiction tale of adventure, faith, hope, and travel, from the beginning...or joining it for the first time, I want to give (anyone who would like) the opportunity to catch it all in one post. Please find below the PDF format of the first ten chapters (Section One: Singapore) which make up the ebook FAITH. HOPE. LOVE.

Faith. Hope. Love: Part 1 - Singapore

Friday Funnies: It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

I find Twitter to be a fun site to visit with new and old friends and acquaintances. A week or so ago I heard from someone I have known since high school and he shared the following comical story with me:

I work for a sports complex. The complex hosts a lot of championship events. One event is a Christian college championship.  The client has been coming to the complex now for several years. He is a very kind, easy going person and we go out of our way to please him, not just because it is our job but because he is a good person and is universally well liked. He is also a Christian so we are cognizant to watch our P’s and Q’s around him as not to offend him.
 
A few years back the event was going to stream the championship in High-Def. We were setting up the scaffolding for the cameras because this was the first year it was going to be streamed in High-Def. While we were setting it up the client would stop by and check in on us see how we were doing and we would ask if we were setting up the scaffolding to his liking. The client has a good sense of humor so we were joking with him as well along with talking about sports.
 
We had gotten to the point we were unsure of how to set up the scaffolding for the camera operators. We wanted to make sure it did not interfere with High-Def cameras and that the operators felt comfortable on the scaffolding. There were support bars that went across the top that boxed in the top platform that were hanging down because we were not sure which fields they would be used for and which way the operator would access the platform. The client walked by the scaffolding and before we could explain what we had done he said in jest, "You need to be careful someone could lose an eye," and "It is all fun and games till someone loses an eye." To which I jokingly replied, "It still is as long as it is not you." It was at this point he said, "You will find this hilarious then." He lifted his glasses, about two inches, with one hand and then brought his other hand to his face. Using his index finger and thumb in a pinching motion he removed his glass eye and flung it at me (like a child would fling a booger), laughing and joking the whole time. I calmly caught the glass eye, handed it back to him, left the area, and then freaked out.
 
I immediately told my boss who began to chastise me for not noticing the client had a glass eye, asking if I just thought he had a lazy eye or something. I said I never really paid attention to his eye as I do not stare into other men’s eyes. He then kicked me out of the office to where I ran into the client and gave a long sincere apology. The client laughed it off saying it did not offend him and that he had been using the glass eye as a joke for years and I was just his latest victim.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Be Water, My Friend."

"Now, water can flow or creep, or drip, or crash. Be water, my friend.” - Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee verses Chuck Norris

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bullying: Part Four - Stay True to Your Race, Faith, Culture, etc.

Stay True to Your Race, Faith/Beliefs, Culture, Etc.

I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:14. ESV.)

A bully's opinion is NOT an accurate assessment of you! Forgive me but I am going to say that again.

THE OPINION OF A BULLY IS NOT AN ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF YOU! A good sales person could "sell ice to an Eskimo" (as the saying goes). A bully who is skilled at being calculating, deceitful, crafty, controlling, and forceful will get you to buy into his/her scheme. Do not take it to heart. (This goes back to having a "support system" on whom you can depend to NOT tell you what you want to hear but to give you the Truth especially when you are being deceived.)

Also, EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND ALL THAT YOU ARE IS YOURS TO GIVE NOT FOR SOMEONE TO TAKE!

God provides. He gives and removes. His blessings upon you, love, your heart, submission, loyalty, service, hospitality, generosity, etc. It is God given to offer, to willingly present. It is not someone else's possession, right, etc. to seize by force. He/she/they are not entitled to it!

You are beautiful. God made you in His image for His glory. Do NOT allow hateful words to take root inside your heart. Tough love, discipline, and Truth are one thing (but they are done in love):
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

Bullies destroy, for their own gain. Remember with them there is an "'imbalance of power' that may be social and/or physical". Maintain healthy relationships. Be wise! Do not "enable" a bully to continue unhealthy behavior.

The word of God has a lot to say about oppression. It is NOT pleasing to God! Look at Cain, Pharaoh, Nabal (husband of Abigail), King Saul (when he tried to bully David), Haman, and Herod (to name a few)! The scriptures are also very encouraging when it comes to renewing your mind and soul against bullying. Dive in and let the love of Christ wash over you!

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26, 27 ESV)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bullying: Part Three - Fight the Good Fight

Fighting the Good Fight

Spiritual warfare, in my opinion, takes place on many different levels. I feel this includes battling against the wickedness of oppression in whatever form it takes.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

Knowledge is Power

I have been posting about bullying and thus far have done a bully breakdown and have covered not returning evil for evil.

I first knew I wanted to be a fighter, in middle school, when I read the horrific book DEATH BY CHILD ABUSE AND NO ONE HEARD by Eve Krupinski and Dana Weikel. The desire stirred so greatly within me to rescue that little girl. But I couldn't. She had died at the hands of her abusers...her bullies. As an adult I became a volunteer court appointed child advocate and began my education of those who use manipulation, coercion, control, and physical violence to take what they want. (Bullies come in all different shapes and sizes.)

It has been nine years but I feel I am finally getting a grip on that type of behavior and have useful tools to battle against it. Currently, I am furthering my study and have started training in self defense. But ultimately, it is the Word of God that has taught and continues to teach me the most regarding this issue.

Put on the Armor

Before I could even begin to combat this sin I first had to put on the full armor of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:10-17 ESV)

Coming soon...Bullying: Part Four - Stay True to Your Race, Faith/Beliefs, Culture, Etc.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bullying: Part Two - Do Not Return Evil For Evil

The Sin is in the Secrecy

Yesterday I posted a breakdown of bullying and a first step in fighting against it which is confiding in friends (you trust the most) for support and assistance. Each of these can look very different on a case by case basis. I do not believe there is any one piece of advice or encouragement that covers every situation. They are as varying as fingerprints and snowflakes. The thing to watch out for here, though, is gossiping! I feel only a small number (3-5) of confidants should be made aware of the circumstances and only for helping you and for prayer...not for feeding the rumor mill or building your case against the other individual---so choose wisely!

Do Not Return Evil for Evil

Just because oppression or harassment may not always be punished (or punishable) by law, does not make it okay. It is, in my opinion, very unhealthy and destructive. So, do NOT try to give a bully a taste of his/her own medicine. Firstly, because the word of God says so. Secondly, I just do not think it would be a wise idea...mess with a bull and you are going to get the horns! Further, ask God to guard your heart so you do not begin to do to others what a bully is doing to you. Do not repeat the behavior.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:17-19 ESV)

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
(Proverbs 26:4 ESV)

"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 ESV)

Knowledge is Power

Instead, educate yourself (and others) regarding this matter. To keep your body fit you learn about nutrition, good eating habits, and proper exercise. To have a healthy mind one should likewise study up on emotional, mental, and behavioral topics.

But, I will get into that a little bit more tomorrow. For now, I leave you with this.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

Be safe.

The Celestial City

The "Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey" was a "blog hop" (if you will), I was doing each Thursday, based on John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Each of my posts (at the start of the "hop") contained a "place" and "characters" from the literature. Today I am going to wrap things up with our final destination The Celestial City. I hope you have enjoyed the 32 blogs I included and were encouraged along the way!

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26. ESV.)

The Celestial City
 
1st Stop - The City of Destruction and Slough of Despond
2nd Stop - House of the Interpreter
3rd Stop - The Cross, Sepulchre, Hill Difficulty, and House Beautiful
4th Stop - Valley of the Shadow of Death
5th Stop - Vanity Fair
Final Stop - The Delectable Mountains

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Bullying: Part One - The Bully Breakdown

The Bully Breakdown

I. Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.

A. Can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion.

B. May be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability.

C. The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical power.

D. Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other including school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods.

II. Research indicates adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate.

A. A prejudicial view of subordinates can be a particularly strong risk factor.

B. Some doctors have argued that a bully reflects the environment of his home, repeating the model he learned from his parents.

C. Envy and resentment may be motives for bullying.

D. Some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic, others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.

E. Other risk factors include depression and personality disorders, as well as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.

1. In one recent study of youth, a combination of antisocial traits and depression was found to be the best predictor of youth violence.

2. video game violence and television violence exposure were not predictive of these behaviors.

F. It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in childhood. (Wikipedia)

Now that we've identified what we are up against, what is one to do about it?

Have a Support System

Coming from a believer's standpoint, I can say from experience the body of Christ is a tremendous blessing when it comes to needing a support group. In the face of bullying, standing alone (in my opinion) is not only NOT going to work it is also unhealthy.

When I was young, I was bullied at school for a period of time. An older student picked me out as a "target" and did not inflict physical harm but rather manipulated me in a very sly manner to get me to pay her money. She played on my sense of compassion with a story of how a man was threatening to harm her if she did not come up with the cash. Being so young a gullible, I was certainly an easy mark. And, I did give her money. Thankfully though, I had confided in a couple friends about what was going on, they spoke to our teacher, and she notified the principal. The principal nipped it in the bud and fortunately for me the bully went quietly and never bothered me again. In this case it was my "support system" that blew the whistle.

On another occasion when I figured out I was being bullied, my closest and most trust worthy sisters-in-Christ acted as more of a sounding board and assisted me in breaking everything down to identify manipulation, deceit, coercion, and control tactics. Their continued willingness to do this with me also helped in keeping me sane and not allowing the bully's "opinion" of me to become my reality. These are two examples of why I feel the body of Christ is so very important!

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.... And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14-18 ESV)

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Purpose of the Lord Will Stand

When God says, "Clean the Closet."

A bible study leader once gave me this illustration:

Sometimes God tells us to clean the closet. But instead, maybe we work hard on the kitchen getting it all organized, dusted, swept, mopped, and sanitized. Then God returns to us and says, "Thank you so much for all you have done in the kitchen, but I told you to 'clean the closet'."

This has been me lately. I have been so focused, busting my butt on other projects I have neglected the ones my sovereign God assigned to me. It was not until the Lord let my heart know, though I gave something my best and it was good, it was not what I was supposed to be doing. And, to be honest, I cried...out of frustration, because of pride, out of sadness, because there was no one to turn to for comfort (I should have looked to the Good Shepherd.), because my heart hurt...the lesson was difficult. The Holy Spirit within me was burning for weeks (and I felt restless) so I cannot claim I was oblivious. God designated a, b, and c to me but instead I did x, y, and z. The bottom line is, I did not listen to my King and follow His instructions.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

I get it, Lord. I hear You loud and clear. It is You who makes all things come about, You who provides, You who grants favor and gives grace, You who was and is and is to come! You put me where I need to be when it is time for me to be there...not a moment too soon or a second too late.

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!"

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created."
(Revelation 4:8 & 11 ESV)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Can You Stand Against an Angry Law?

"What will you do when the law comes in terror? When the trumpet of the Archangel shall tear you from your grave and the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul; when the book shall be opened and all your sin and shame shall be punished. Can you stand against an angry law in that day?" - Charles Spurgeon

Hebrews 12:18-29

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
(Hebrews 12:18-29 ESV)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac



I took my love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm-mmm I don't know, Mmm-mmm. Mmm-mmm.

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older and I'm getting older too
So...

I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I, I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too
I'm getting older too

So, take this love, take it down
Oh if you climb a mountain and you turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring you down, down
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills

Well maybe the landslide will bring you down
Well well, the landslide will bring you down

Not the Everyday

Sydney the pug had to have his teeth cleaned, three of which had to be extracted.

And, he had to have a cyst removed.

But overall the vet said he is in great heath for his age... no liver or kidney issues, thankfully!

Expect the Unexpected

You Never Know What You Are Going to Get

One amusing thing about where I live is the day to day may be suddenly interrupted by something completely out of the ordinary. For example, one evening I was driving home and there was a cow in the middle of the road, just hanging out.

Yesterday morning I went to put something in the recycle bin and was greeted by turkeys on my front lawn! (No, I do not live on a ranch...but nor do I live in the city. Er, perhaps I am borderline country mouse.)


And I know better than to mess with a Tom turkey! (A friend of mine (while growing up) lived on a farm and I have to say when you are a young child, a Tom turkey is pretty intimidating!)

So, where did the turkeys go? They meandered through the housing development and I last saw them heading for the park. Later, turkey! :)

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