Relational Two-Way Streets

February 21, 2017

“For if I make you sorrowful then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)

In this verse the Apostle Paul is telling us that relationships are a two-way street. Whatever we send down the street comes back up that street.

Jesus taught this same truth using a marketplace metaphor of His times. In that marketplace, if another vendor bought goods from you and you suspected his bushel measurement was inaccurate, you could ask him to go get his bushel measurement when you sold to him. In this way, Jesus taught that whatever measure we use in giving to people they will use that same standard in giving back to us (Matthew 7:1-5).

By application, what Paul and Jesus taught relates to our marriages and families: if we make people unhappy, we will find ourselves living with unhappy people who were made unhappy by us. A wise pastor who did a lot of marriage counseling wrote a little poem that had this line in it: “You can’t control the weather or rainy days, but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you.”

If you surround yourself with unhappy people because you make them unhappy, consider how much better it would be if you made those same people happy. Another wise pastor said that with Jesus the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things.

The bottom line is: do we want to be surrounded by happy or unhappy people?  What are we sending down the two-way street of our relationships?

Dick Woodward, 27 January 2012


Communicating Heart to Heart

November 15, 2016

“We have spoken freely to you Corinthians and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11, 13)

Life so often comes down to relationships, and relationships are all about communication. The Apostle Paul profiled that reality when he wrote these words. He also prescribed a solution. As a summary paraphrase of this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our hearts. As married couples we should be face to face and heart to heart with our communication flaps open. But, the hard reality is that we are often back to back with our communication flaps closed tight. The solution Paul models here is that someone must take the initiative and say, “I am heart to heart with you and my flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

Communication in relationships is a challenge we can face all day long every day in our families, work lives, and our interactions with people. It’s so very important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, to the person with whom they are having a communication conflict: “I am heart to heart with you and my communication flap is open.  Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be totally amazed at how taking this stance can melt down the obstacles between you and a difficult person. Throughout any given day we face relational challenges that can be turned around through good and loving communication. God has to begin with the person who is mature enough to initiate the solution Paul is modeling for us.

Dick Woodward, 14 October 2011


Hope-filled “Hupomone” Love

May 19, 2015

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

We read in the book of Hebrews:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.”  The inspired author of the great faith chapter means that the object of faith is always unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.  In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope.  We hope until faith gives us reason to believe. (Hebrews 11:1)

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them.  According to the love hymn of Paul, the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them. Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved.  The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ‘hupomone.”  It is a combination of two Greek words, to ‘abide‘ and ‘under,‘ whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love a person who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement.  This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray loved ones through their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These ‘chains’ of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with this love that hopes, believes, and endures all things.  By their actions they make this statement to those they love:  “Nothing you do or say can make me stop loving you because I’m loving you with the love of Christ.  The love of Christ is tough love.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Two-Way Streets of Communication

April 10, 2015

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2Corinthians 2:2)

Every relationship we have is a two-way street. According to the Apostle Paul whatever we send down that street comes back up that street with a dynamic impact on that relationship.  Jesus states this same truth with a positive spin when He teaches hypercritical people, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

This was a relevant marketplace metaphor at the time of Christ.  If you were selling oats and a fellow merchant in the marketplace was selling wheat, when you bought from each other you could request to use their bushel standard of measurement.  Paraphrased, this is saying that whatever standard you use when you give to the other person in a relationship, they will use that same standard when they give to you. All of this means that we cannot control the weather or rainy days, but we can control the emotional climate that surrounds us in a relationship.

Communication is not only what is said but what is heard.  It is not only what is said but what is felt.  How does the communication you are contributing in a relationship make the other person in that relationship feel?  If you’re sending negative waves into that other person’s life, is that likely to inspire them to send positive waves in your direction?

Paul gave us another great teaching on this subject when he wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for the building up of others, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

I challenge you to apply these teachings of Jesus and Paul in your relationships.

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2011


A Dilemma of Porcupines

August 17, 2012

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)   

Communication is one of the greatest challenges we have in our life.  Whether it is in our marriage or in any of the relationships we have in our work and interactions with people on a daily basis, we find ourselves challenged by communication.

It takes courage to communicate because those who communicate with us often say things we need to hear but may not want to hear.  And we must say things people do not want to hear but need to hear.  In many ways when we communicate we face…

A Porcupine’s Dilemma

What’s a porcupine to do,
When faced with cold weather?
When the dark clouds can be construed,
Only as bringing a storm and nothing better,
 
For in a world of naught but porcupines,
Who among us should be so inclined,
To choose to envelop the other in ourselves,
Despite the threat of our sharp, prickly ends,
 
Is warmth so inviting,
Its promise so binding,
That a dozen pricks should be a necessary step,
In finding solace once the sun sets,
 
You see, in the end,
The coin flips between comfort and company,
Does the porcupine seek comfort in its kin,
Only to find pain through some sadistic irony?
 
Such is the porcupine’s dilemma,
As the wind begins to howl,
Should he enter his kindred’s embrace and suffer,
Or isolate himself and huddle down?        
 
(attributed to: Vishal Bala)

 We can be controlled by the fear of being stuck and isolate ourselves into a lonely self imposed solitary confinement.  Or, as courageous communicators, we can be controlled by the Holy Spirit and communicate very carefully—like porcupines embracing—and minister grace to our hearers.


A Communication Prescription

July 12, 2012

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you…As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV)

To paraphrase this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our heart.  We should be face-to-face and heart-to-heart with our communication flaps open.  But, the hard reality is that we are often back-to-back with our communication flaps down and tightly closed.  The solution Paul prescribes here is that someone must say, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open.  Be heart-to-heart with me and open your communication flap.”

We face communication challenges every day in our family, work life, and in our interactions with people.  When there is a communication problem it is so very important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, to the person with whom they are having a communication conflict, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be totally amazed at how taking that stance can melt the obstacles between you and that person with whom you are having a difficult and challenging relationship.  This can be a communication “circuit breaker” that restores communication in a relationship.

Bacteria multiply in the dark but cannot live in the light.  If we do not have good communication in a relationship misunderstandings multiply like bacteria, but when communication is restored it is as if we have turned the light on our relationship.  Most of the bacteria will die and we can address that which doesn’t die with the light of our restored communication.