“Relational Vampires: Needy People”

Week 3: How do I love a needy person?
 
How do I love a needy person?
Remember – A chronic problem is not solved by a crisis solution.
 
We give strategically. – Aim to give a hand up, not a hand out
We serve wisely. – You can’t say “yes” often unless you say “no” occasionally
We trust God completely. – Don’t steal God’s glory by writing yourself into someone else’s story
 
Bottom Line: Its only hard to love a needy person when I forget how Jesus meets my needs.
 
Further Conversation
1. Dogs or cats, which are overly needy? Why? 2. Who are a few of the most life-giving people you know? What makes them different? 3. Read Acts 3:1-13a. What surprises you most about this story? When has a need of yours ended up serving a greater purpose? 4. What are some potential dangers when giving emotionally? How can helping sometimes hurt? How have you experienced this? 5. You can’t say ‘yes’ often unless you say ‘no’ occasionally. How does it make you feel to say no? What makes you feel this way? 6. Share a story about when you or someone else tried to play God’s role of rescuer/hero? What would you do differently now? 7. Read John 13:34-35. What do you need to change to better love people who have needs? What actions will you take to trust God with your needs? How can Christ Church help?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Acts 2:42-47
Evangelism and faith sharing terrify many people. We’re often so afraid we’ll say something wrong or look dumb. Maybe we’ve heard the bullhorns screaming judgement or been confronted by pushy people with pamphlets. But the early church practiced a different kind of evangelism. They shared in such a way that no one had need. Yes, preaching and teaching in public took place. But it was the love shared and needs being met that drew people into the community. Truth is, we all are needy. Jesus continues to meet our needs, often through the church. How have you been open to the church about your needs? How have you shared with others through the church? Who do you know that needs Jesus like this?
Pray: LORD Jesus, help the church become a place of incredible openness and sharing. And help me lead the way.
 
Tuesday – Luke 18:35-43
The people yelled “be quiet!” Can you imagine standing next to Jesus and telling a person in need to “be quiet!” I doubt the crowd was especially cruel. My guess is that Jesus was speaking and the crowd didn’t like the distraction. Overly needy people are often an exhausting distraction. After a while, our resources are drained and our patience has worn thin. But this story reminds us to not miss the opportunity for a miracle. Those that scorned the needy person almost missed witnessing a healing. When it was all over, everyone marveled at what God had done. It became another story to share. When we push needy people away, we risk missing seeing Jesus at work. Who do you know that really needs to be brought to Jesus?
Pray: Jesus, Son of God, please do let my eagerness for you or my weariness of others distract me from seeing you work in the world.
 
Wednesday – Mark 1:35-39
My son really wants me to buy a new Jeep. He loves those things! He points them out everywhere we go. I so wish I could buy one, but I can’t afford it. Many of us know this type of frustration. The truth is, we can not give what we do not have. Same goes concerning spiritual matters. If we don’t take time to allow Jesus to fill our souls, we won’t have the love or spiritual energy to share with others. Even Jesus took time by himself to be refueled through prayer. How is your spiritual gas tank? How generous are you being? How can you take time today to let Christ refuel you?
Pray: Almighty God, refresh and restore my spirit. I can’t give what I don’t have. I want to share you with others in need.
 
Thursday – Galatians 6:7-10
We don’t like watching people we love go through hurt. Yet, have we ever considered how our love can cause hurt. Its so important to know the difference between a crisis and a learning opportunity. A crisis requires immediate help. However, when we sow sin or continually make poor choices, the consequences may be the learning opportunity we need (and God will use) to bring change. Interjecting and holding back the full weight of those consequences could actually enable us to stay in an unhealthy pattern. We harvest what we sow. Hunger is a great motivator to cause us to consider sowing something different. How have your struggles taught you? Who do you need to love enough to let them hunger?
Pray: Heavenly Father, please give me the love and wisdom to know when and how to best to help those in need.
 
Friday – Psalm 70:5
Before & After photos can be incredibly motivating. I have a friend who lost over two hundred pounds. Her two pictures tell a tale of need, determination, and change. She is an inspiration because her story offers hope to others who have a similar need. We all have ‘before’ stories. We all are born into need. We are broken people who have made a mess of something in our lives. Hopefully, you are experiencing change and healing in Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t loose track of that ‘before’ story. The Psalmist urges us to remember our need. What is your story? Where is your need? How is Jesus changing you? Our story humbles us. It gives us empathy for others in need. And it gives others hope when we share it. Who do you know that could benefit from your story?
Pray: LORD Jesus, thank you for how you meeting my needs and healing my soul. Help me share my story of your power in my life.
 
Saturday – John 13:34-35
Sometimes helping hurts. TOMS shoes is renown for their buy one give one policy. For every pair of shoes you buy from them, they give a pair of shoes to a person in an impoverished country. The problem is that giving shoes away actually causes shoe-makers to go out of business in those communities. Likewise, studies show giving clothes away to poor countries in Africa harms the local economy. We must be thoughtful in our desire to help. We must see the people and their potential, not a problem or a project. Jesus loved us. How will we love others? Its worth doing right.
Pray: Loving God, may we model ourselves after the way you love and truly get to see the person and know their need.

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“Relational Vampires: Critical People”

Week 2: How Do I Love a Critical Person?
 
How do I love a critical person?
Reality Check: You will be criticized!
 
How can we respond to critical people?
Often we don’t respond. Sometimes, we respond carefully. Occasionally, we listen and make a change. Always work to guard your heart.
Bottom Line: I’m compassionate with others when I’m confident in Christ.
 
Further Conversation
1. What is the most ridiculous criticism you’ve ever received? 2. Think about some of the most critical people you know. What do you think is the root cause of their critical spirit? 3. Read 2 Peter 2:23 What is your take-away from this Scripture? 4. Of the ways listed to respond to critical people, what is your typical response? Which do you avoid? Why do you think this is? 5. Which do you struggle with more…being overly critical or being overly sensitive to criticism. How do you think this came about? 6. How has criticism stood in the way of God’s love and healing in your life? What is God’s truth about you that can replace these critical words? 7. Read Proverbs 12:18 What are the most common reasons you look down on others or cut them down? What will you do to bring healing instead? How can Christ Church help you take this step?
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – John 13:34-35
Love like Jesus loved? That can seem impossible with critical people. Critical people rip us apart with their words. They steal our worth and dignity. How can I possibly love someone like that? We have to remember how Jesus loves us. Beaten and berated, he didn’t seek revenge. He possessed an inner confidence they could not destroy. He showed compassion to his attackers (without condoning their attack). When we are open to Jesus’ love, we gain a confidence that comes from believing we are who Jesus says we are. We are loved. We are valuable. We matter to God. Confidence creates compassion. We can love others because we are loved! Who is difficult to love? How can you trust in and show Jesus’ love?
Pray: LORD Jesus, help me have great confidence in your love for me. May it build a compassion in me that I am quick to share.
 
Tuesday – Proverbs 19:11
Love has a way of overlooking other people’s faults. Some parents believe their kids can do no wrong. Are they intentionally delusional? No, they just really love and think the very best of their kids. Great marriages are built on this same principle. We overlook wrongs by wearing love tinted glasses. Love doesn’t mean we condone wrong. It means we can forgive quickly and see the best of intentions. We hope for the best. Critical people miss this part of love. Maybe there is a critical person in your life who needs an extended reminder of love’s ability to overlook wrongs. Who can you love today? How can you trust Jesus and show compassion today?
Pray: Good Shepherd, when others seek to harm me, may I trust in your protection. Help me see the good and love others.
 
Wednesday – 1 Peter 2:23
At one time I was so quick to defend myself. When someone criticized me, my guard instantly rose and I would forcibly present my case as to why they were mistaken. I argued. I excused. Or if all else failed, I blamed or destroyed. I couldn’t handle someone saying I was wrong. It made me feel worthless. But over time, as I grew to know Jesus and gain confidence in Christ’s love for me, my ability to not respond in fear grew. I can love and overlook because I am loved. Jesus fills me in such a way that criticism can’t rob me. Christ confidence gives me the freedom to be compassionate. Are you quick to defend yourself or show Christ’s love to others?
Pray: Almighty God, you were so quick to love and forgive me even when I least deserved it. Help me to show others that same love.
 
Thursday – Proverbs 15:31-32
Let’s be honest, accountability is never a comfortable process. We try hard to present our best selves to the world. It stings when a weakness is pointed out or a failure identified. Yet, if we can get past the sting, we will be better off for the correction. I remember receiving my immunization shots as a child. Oh how I hated the needles. At one point it took four nurses to hold me down as a doctor administered the shot. The momentary pain frightened me. But what if I had contracted the measles, or worse. So it is with constructive criticism. Though it may sting to hear the critique, we are given the opportunity to better ourselves. Do you run from criticism? Do you quickly defend yourself against it? Or do you have an open heart for it? Who do you need to listen to today?
Pray: Heavenly Father, please help me gain the confidence in you to allow others to speak truth into me.
 
Friday – Proverbs 12:18
Consider this truth: Hurt people hurt people. Overly critical people, who quickly cut down others with their words, often possess a painful story. When we are in pain, we lash out. Unforgiven or unhealed hurt creates a heighten fear of vulnerability. Hurt people hurt others to protect themselves. But who is it that often speaks the kindest and wisest words to us? Is it not those persons who have experienced great pain, but have found healing? Healed people bring healing to people. Where are you good at sharing healing through wise words? Praise God for your healing. In what ways are you showing hurt through your cutting words? Seek Christ’s love and reconciliation. Allow yourself to hear wise words of truth and love…so that you might share your healing with others.
Pray: LORD Jesus, thank you that you are quick to offer healing to all those who seek you and trust you.
 
Saturday – Romans 14:10-13 & 15:1-7
Sadly, the church has been a critical voice to many. Sometimes the deepest wounds comes from friendly fire. We hurt and condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ. We play judge instead of doctor. A judge determines guilt. A doctor diagnoses and offers a path to healing. May we lean into the healing of Jesus and grow in our confidence of his love. Then we can be ready to bear one another burdens and share the healing we have found. May our church become a place for healing and hope to a hurting world.
Pray: Loving God, may we find our confidence in your love and grace so that we can offer healing and hope to a hurting world.

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“Relational Vampires: Controlling People”

Controlling People
 
There are some people that just seem to suck the life out of us. Some are endlessly needy; others complain. Some you can’t trust because they’re manipulative, or just hypocrites. We know we’re supposed to love them, but honestly, sometimes it’s just plain difficult. In this series, we’ll be putting a name to this type of person: Relational Vampires. We’ll recognize that these people are all around us draining our energy, and that it’s easy to fall under their spell and become vampires ourselves. Instead of running from or fighting with these vampires, though, we will learn how God can use us to bring love into their lives.
 
How do I love a controlling person?
Two weapons of a controlling person: Threats & Guilt
 
Three Things to Know
1. Know what you are called to do 2. Know when you are being controlled 3. Know when to draw the line in the sand Bottom Line: I’m free to love you when Jesus leads me
 
Further Conversation
1. On a scale of 1-10, how controlling was your home? Are you more a controller or a people-pleaser? 2. Why do you think some people are so controlling? What motivates for someone to allow themselves to be controlled? 3. Read Matthew 16:21-24 What motivated Peter? What do you think Peter feared? What surprises you about Jesus’ response? 4. How does knowing what we are called to do free us to love controlling people appropriately? What are you called to do? 5. What areas of your life do you try to have the most control over? What would you like to do differently? 6. What are some ways you can intentionally give God control? 7. Think of someone that you struggle to love because they are controlling. Without revealing who, how could Christ Church help you take a next step with Jesus and love this person?
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Matthew 14:22-31
That’s impossible! We all can think of things we simply can’t or won’t do! My grandmother used to say that she would only fly in an airplane over “my dead body!” Ironically, when she passed away we had to fly her remains to her home state for burial. Following Jesus requires doing the impossible sometimes… like obediently loving someone who has hurt us or is controlling. Bitterness or resentment creep in, and love seems as impossible as walking on water. This passage lets us learn from Peter’s faith and fall. If we let Jesus lead, keeping our eyes fixed on him, the impossible is possible. Who do you need to love appropriately, compassionately, and sacrificially? Focus on Jesus and take your next step towards him.
Pray: LORD Jesus, sometimes what you require seems impossible. Help me fix my eyes on you and love all others like you love me!
 
Tuesday – Psalm 23
Letting God lead isn’t always easy. Some paths are painful. We often read this Psalm in moments of our greatest grief, such as at the funeral of a loved one. God will sometimes lead us through a dark valley. When has God led you places that you didn’t want to go? We can become reluctant and fearful. We dig in our heals or grow angry at God. But somehow, we must trust our Shepherd. Often the path to the peaceful stream or green meadow is through the dark valley. We could miss out on God’s great blessing for us if we won’t follow God through the pain, grief, or dark. How have your grown from times of difficulty? How has God brought blessing from places of pain? Remind yourself today of God’s love for you, and allow this love to refresh and encourage you to let God lead.
Pray: Good Shepherd, help me remember the joy and peace you bring in the light so that I will more fully trust you in the dark.
 
Wednesday – Isaiah 55:8-9
Have you ever wondered why they shut a door between the pilot and passengers on a commercial airplane? Safety is a concern, I’m sure. But it probably has far more to do with “back seat drivers”! Can you imagine how many people, all who do not know how to fly, would be trying to judge or direct the pilot’s behavior. We do the same with God. We try to judge God’s leading or control God’s actions. But God’s ways are not our ways. God knows better. How can you trust God to lead today…without back seat driving?
Pray: Almighty God, you know all thing…and I do not. Forgive me for second-guessing your plan. I will trust you to lead today.
 
Thursday – Psalm 37:1-5
Have you every had an itch you just couldn’t scratch? For a moment, its all I can think about. The agony builds and builds. And then suddenly, its gone. Did the itch disappear? No, not necessarily. Somehow I started thinking about something else that took my mind off the itch. Controlling people can be like an itch. They demand our attention. They shame and threaten. But if we will only move our attention to trusting God, we could quiet the controller and learn to love them appropriately. If we would only commit everything to God, then the evil of another we have little lasting influence on us. What itch is occupying your mind and heart? Whose voice is demanding your attention? How can you choose to trust in the Lord and do good today?
Pray: Heavenly Father, please help my only trust your voice. Even as others demand my attention, may I fix my thoughts on you.
 
Friday – John 21:15-25
But what about him? Has comparison ever captured you? Peter just had an intimate moment of restoration with the resurrected Jesus. Think about that for just a second. Peter betrayed Jesus. Jesus rose from the grave and now just had a beautiful moment of forgiving and restoring Peter. What a mountaintop experience! Then suddenly, like a dog distracted by a squirrel, Peter quickly shifts his attention from the risen LORD to comparing himself to a fellow disciple. Comparison captures our minds and heart, robbing us of intimacy with Jesus. We wander by wondering about others instead of letting Jesus lead us and trusting his love. Where has comparison captured your attention? As forgiveness and allow Jesus to lead you. Where is Jesus taking you…not others…today?
Pray: LORD Jesus, I’m sorry for how often I wonder about others instead of trusting in you. Lead me, I am yours today.
 
Saturday – Galatians 5:16-26
Loving a controlling person can be a challenge. It requires being constantly on guard…remembering your call and refusing to be pulled from it. But the hardest controller to love is yourself. We want to be God, deciding what is best for us…then to allow the Spirit to lead us into what is good, right, and holy. Who is in control of you today? Whose lead have you followed this week? As we prepare to gather together for worship tomorrow, may we trust in the leading of the Spirit. May our lives bear witness to the Spirit’s goodness!
Pray: Loving God, may I bear the fruits of the Spirit as I follow the lead of the Spirit. I am all yours today, tomorrow, and for eternity!
 

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