Spiritual Formation

5 Languages of Apology

Today, Jennifer and I got to go hear Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, speak at a Pastor’s Forum sponsored by the Center for Individual Family Therapy. Jennifer and I greatly benefited from Dr. Chapman’s writing early in our marriage and The 5 Love Languages is something that I have continued to teach and use as a tool in helping couples experience and express love.

Today, Dr. Chapman spoke about Two Essentials for Successful Marriage, which he stated are: 1) expressing love and appreciation;  and 2) dealing effectively with our failures. In the first half of his message he talked about the 5 love languages. But in the later half, he introduced the 5 languages of an apology, we he expressed we need to know in order to deal effectively with our failures in the context of marriage. In unpacking this concept, Chapman talked about how each person has different ideas about what an apology is and how to give an apology! In a nutshell, he expressed that just as people have a love language, people also have an apology language.

Chapman suggests that any of these apologies, which are listed below, could stand on their own, if they are spoken in the right language of the hearer. And while that’s probably true, I personally think that all five languages of an apology need to be part of the anatomy of a complete and genuine apology, especially if the offense is great.

Here are the 5 languages of an apology. Have a look and tell me what you think. What do you want to hear when someone apologizes to you?

  1. Express Regret: Say, “I’m sorry that I…(be specific)”
  2. Accept Responsibility: Say, “I was wrong! I shouldn’t have done that!”
  3. Make Restitution: Ask, “What can I do to make this right?”
  4. Genuinely Repent: Say, “I don’t want this to keep happening!”
  5. Request Forgiveness: Ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

You can also discover your love language by taking this free online assessment.

Ten Questions I’m Asking

Ten questions I’m asking right now, in no particular order…

#1 – Is there anything in my life that I need to stop doing?

#2 – Is there anything in my life that I should start doing?

(By the way…the answer to #2 is YES…but in order for it to happen I REALLY need to wrestle with question #1!)

#3 – How can I be more efficient in the use of my time?

#4 – How can I be a better husband?

#5 – How can I be a better father?

#6 – What will I do to create margin in my life in 2012?

#7 – What will our family vacations look like this year?

#8 – How can we as a church continue to assist people in taking their next step with Christ?

#9 – How do I reconcile my divided heart between the SF Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

#10 – What would a 25 year reunion with my buddies from UC Santa Barbara look like in 2013? And do I want to take on organizing it?

These are some good questions to wrestle with! What questions are you asking?

The Blame Game

If you remember the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins, the Cubs were just five outs from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. However, in a fly ball out to left field, Steve Bartman tried to grab a foul ball, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. That moment shifted the momentum of the game and helped the Florida Marlins rally for an 8-3 victory to tie the NLCS. The 26-year-old Bartman, a youth baseball coach, was escorted by security guards from Wrigley Field after he was threatened by angry fans and pelted with debris.

With his life threatened by angry fans, a police guard was posted outside his suburban Northbrook home that evening. Bartman issued a public apology to Cubs fans saying, “I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan’s broken heart.” He would go on to ask that, “Cub fans everywhere redirect the negative energy that has been vented towards my family, my friends, and myself into the usual positive support for our beloved team on their way to being National League champs.”

His wishes were unanswered. The Marlins would go on to win Game 7 and advance to the World Series thereby cementing Bartman’s gaffe as a key moment in the Cubs’ history. Angry broadcasters castigated him. Thousands of people blamed him for playing a role in the Cubs’ loss.  Can you imagine an entire major metropolitan area blaming you for the loss of your team’s ability to go to the World Series. Even worse it wasn’t really the guy’s fault. One fan didn’t blow the game. It was the eleven other goofs and blunders on the part of the Cubs that cost them the series. Furthermore, the loss of the sixth game just tied up the playoff. The Marlins beat the Cubs without fan interference in the seventh game.

In one degree or another, I guess we all operate like Cubs fans, looking for someone else to blame. Blaming makes us feel better about ourselves, so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions, and no amount of truth to the contrary will convince us. Yes, in playing the blame game, we hope to exonerate ourselves by making sure that the person, who we believe has failed, is properly identified and punished.

Those who play the blame game set themselves up as judge, jury and dispenser of punishment. And it’s a nasty little game that God absolutely demands we forfeit, because he has a different intention for us. Instead he wants us to stop blaming others and learn to accept ourselves in spite of our imperfections, knowing that our worth is not dependent on our performance, but on what God says is true of us. For living in the reality of what God says is true of us, gives us the freedom to extend grace and compassion to ourselves and others, in the same way that God extends grace and compassion to us.

Don’t Wait for the Movie

According to polls conducted by Gallup, nine out of ten Americans have at least one Bible in their home, but nearly half of these Bible-owners rarely or never read the Bible. In fact, forty-one percent of all Americans polled indicate they have never read the Bible. That’s about 117 million people! And outside of the United States, the figures are even more dismal.

So for the season of Lent, we’re bringing special emphasis to the reading Scripture at SCG. The Bible is our blueprint for living and in reading it, we attempt to learn, live, teach and inspire from its rich history and insightful truth. So we’re challenging everyone at SCG to read through the gospels over the next 40 days in preparation of Easter.

When you break it down, it’s actually very simple:

  1. There are a total of 89 chapters in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  2. To read through the gospels in 40 days, all you need to read is approximately 2.23 chapters a day.
  3. Reading 2.23 chapters a day will take you about 6.5 minutes.
  4. On average, we’re awake 960 minutes in a day and reading 2.23 chapters a day will take less than .006% of your day.
  • Download our 40 Day Bible Reading Plan and rediscover the story of Jesus’ life and journey to the cross as we prepare our heart and mind for resurrection.

Living a Life of Significance

I’ve been recently contemplating this quote from the movie, Akeelah and the Bee, which originated from Marriane Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

It’s a pretty powerful reminder of the biblical encouragement that comes from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. In considering this, my prayer has been that we as the church would awaken to the hopes, dreams and possibilities that God has deposited within each and every single one of us, in order that we would live a life of significance that brings glory to God and blesses others. After all, this is the life we were meant to live!

Secrets

They say in recovery that “you’re only as sick as your secrets,” and as a pastor, I too often see the damage that comes from keeping secrets. Whether it’s the husband that lies to his wife about where he’s been or what he’s up to. Or the daughter that keeps her pregnancy a secret from the family. All of us at times are tempted, to hide because of our own guilt and shame. But, the secrets we keep, don’t make life better. Instead they lead us into isolation, rather into the community and connection we need. For only in community, will we truly find the acceptance and healing for the brokenness of our soul.

James 5:16 instructs us to, “confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” There is something powerful that comes when we release the secrets that are holding us captive in authentic biblical community. In doing so we move out of darkness, into the light. And it’s in the light that we discover that honesty really does bring hope and healing as we experience the love and acceptance of a trusted friend, spouse or parent. Yes, in some cases honestly will be hard and may lead us into a painful or fearful journey, but in the community of God’s people, you will find greater strength than you would trying to tackle whatever it is you are facing alone.

In life, so much can be saved or redeemed if only we could learn not to hide and instead speak truth to one another. Jesus said it best in John 8:32, when he said that “the truth will set you free.” Having the courage to meet the demands of reality shows strength, character and ultimately brings healing to the soul. I pray that we can live in the truth, by being honest with ourselves, God and others. In doing so, we will truly be free to experience all that God means for us to experience.

Remind Who I Am

Back in 2007, I happened upon a new release from an artist named Jason Gray. I was looking for some fresh music, as well as for something that could inspire me as I wrote out my God story. The title for Jason’s debut release, All the Lovely Losers, had appeal to me as I considered my journey and experience with God’s grace, as did the other song titles on the album. So I took a chance on a $15 disc, and purchased it without even listening to the demo or previewing a song on iTunes.

That night, I was blown away by the depth, authenticity and musicality of the songs on the CD! As I write, I can’t even begin to describe how I connected with these songs, but they in turn gave me courage to write my story of brokenness and prepare to share it with others. Later, as I got to know Jason’s story, I invited him to come and share his story at an outreach event back at Lakeside Church in January 2008. It was a terrific evening and through that encounter, I was able to meet this incredible singer/songwriter whose music continues to reach to the depths of my soul and help connect me with my Savior in fresh and powerful ways.

Four years later, Jason is finally getting the recognition he deserves, and his recent release Remind Me Who I Am from the album, A Way to See in the Dark, has been consistently in the Top 10 of the iTunes and CCM charts these last several weeks. Since I have been posting on the theme of our identity in Christ this week, I wanted to share with you this powerful song that reminds us all of where our worth truly rests. I am thrilled for Jason and hope you will take a listen to his music as well as enjoy it as much as I do.

Just Think

Back in the late nineties, I worked as a traveling account executive for DaySpring Cards, a Hallmark company. It was a great company to work for and I loved our mission of helping others share their heart and God’s love.

Over the years DaySpring co-founder Roy Lessin, has penned some of my most favorite sayings, and being that yesterday’s post was on the topic of living out our identity in Christ, I thought I would share this gem, which happens to be one of my favorites.

Just think,
you’re here not by chance,
but by God’s choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else.
You are one of a kind.
You lack nothing
that His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

– Roy Lessin, Co-Founder, DaySpring Cards

What God Says To Us

Back in seminary, one of my professors, David Eckman, shared a powerful illustration of God’s love with us. Over the years, I have referred to that illustration in messages, as well as rehearsed it in my own mind, as I have sought to communicate and better understand God’s love for his creation.

In the illustration, God enters onto the scene of our most shameful and embarrassing sin to tell us just how much we mean to him. In that moment, of our greatest guilt and shame, God lovingly points to the cross to demonstrate just how much we are worth to him. It’s a reminder to me, that when we were at our worst, God loved us the most.

It still boggles my mind to stop and think of the reality of the cross. To think that God was free to place the cross anywhere in time, since its benefits would be applied everywhere in time. The cross wasn’t placed in the Garden of Eden before the onset of our sin, nor in the future Kingdom when our sin would be obliterated, but in the middle of our sin, when we had the least to offer.

It is this understanding of who we are in Christ that also gives us the proper ammunition to handle the problem of sin within. You see, as I come to understand my identification with Christ, I don’t have to live in fear of God or hide from his presence, because I am fully known and fully loved. In identifying myself with the Son, I can rest in the forgiveness made possible at the cross, and come to God with full assurance knowing that I am no longer a slave to the moods and desires that hold me in bondage because of what God says is true of me.

I recently saw this video clip from the movie Blood Diamond and it served to remind me of this powerful illustration and the reality of God’s great love for us and our identity in him. As you watch, think of a similar conversation God might want to have with you.

Insights from Job

This year I’ve decided to make it my ambition to read through the Bible, following the Chronological Bible reading plan and I spent much of this month reading through the books of Genesis and Job as part of the plan. The book of Job has always been one of those books in the Bible that has stumped me, as I have sought to make sense of its purpose in the scheme of the other Old Testament literature. So instead of just read it, I decided to do a little more study and here’s my take.

In setting the scene for the book, it is clear that that Job was truly blessed by God, and this in turn becomes the reason for Satan’s interest in testing Job, because he thought that Job’s obedience to God was only in direct proportion to his blessings from God. While Satan is allowed to test Job, I find comfort in the fact that Satan’s actions are limited by God’s sovereign control. Evidence of this is seen each time Satan approaches God to test Job, and in both cases God clearly limits the extent of Satan’s tests, mentioning that Satan could not put forth his hand on Job, nor take his life. Thus God’s sovereignty becomes one of the major themes of the book.

In developing the themes of divine retribution and the sovereignty of God, four messengers of misfortune, come to Job and declare of the calamity that has arisen out of the unseen personal workings in the heavenlies. Upon hearing the news from the fourth messenger, Job is overcome with his grief and gets up, tears his robe, shaves his head and falls to the ground in worship of God.

The tension created by Job’s remarks in chapter 3 also contributes to the overall message of the book, and teaches that it is not necessarily wrong to for a person to be honest before the Lord and to ask the questions of why, as Job does repeatedly throughout the book. It is important to again point out, that none of these questions grow into accusations or cursing of God, and to remember that the point of Job’s questioning is his attempt to try and understand his experience in light of God’s sovereignty. Job nowhere states in this text that he will have nothing to do with God, but through his lament attempts to find God in this experience and therefore appeals to God again and again.

In grasping the meaning of Job, it is also obvious from the text that the author was intending to argue against the theology of divine retribution, which later becomes the thesis of Job’s three friends banter (4:7-1; 8:3,11-22; 11:13-20; 18:5-21). Throughout the book Job maintains his righteousness and steadfastness, and shows us that the person of faith will trust God through adversity or prosperity even when their world doesn’t make sense. In the end, Job passed the test and instead of cursing God, Job acknowledges God’s sovereignty and therefore destroys Satan’s suspicion that he only feared God because of God’s blessing.

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