Knee-Jerk Reactions

In the medical field a knee-jerk reflex is a sudden kicking movement of the lower leg in response to a sharp tap just below the kneecap. We also use this knee-jerk expression to describe someone’s response or reaction to a question or situation, often in a very predictable way or without thinking. A knee-jerk reaction is typically a quick reaction that does not allow you time to consider something carefully. 

While I could share an overflowing bucket full of illustrations and stories from my own life that would make you either laugh out loud or shift uncomfortably in your seat, I thought it would be more valuable to share some thoughts about what should be at the epicenter of our reactions.

I was recently reading Paul’s words to the church in Colossae. In chapter three he gives instruction to his brothers and sisters in Christ to have their hearts and minds set on things above, not on earthly things. He calls them (and us) to rid ourselves of things like anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. Each of these destructive “things” Paul describes can be a dangerously attached “spur” riding on the side of our reactive comments or actions. Be it un-intentional or otherwise, these “spurs” of destruction (a tool of the evil one) can have a powerful impact on the relationships we have with others. 

Paul offers us some strong counsel on how we as followers of Christ can work in our lives to help smooth the sharp points down on the spurs that can cause harm. He says: 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:12-14)

In Christ we have the power to overcome the fractured image of a once perfect reflection of our heavenly Father who created us. When the peace of Christ rules in our hearts and the perfect unity of love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience come together they are the means that help to condition (for better) our sometimes-hasty reactions. 

Knee jerk reactions are inevitable in life, they surface in our daily face-to-face interactions, through social media posts and other areas of life. We would do well to heed to Paul’s words in verse 17 of Colossians 3: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Today, it is my prayer for all of you that strive to live according to our Fathers will, that you will show a natural response of love and compassion in all your words and deeds with those around you.

Pass the Salt Please.

dubbelzoutSalt. It can be used to relieve bee stings, preserve food, enhance flavor or melt ice and gives seawater its distinctive taste. I willingly admit that I am a picky eater, although I prefer to say that I have a finely tuned palate. The Dutch blood that runs deep into my heritage has hardwired me to appreciate and love the salty taste of DubbelZout (double salt) hard black licorice. This fine Dutch treat has been preserving the Dutch and others for many years. (and yes I am eating them as I write this blog entry)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Taken in context of the surrounding verses in Colossians 4, this figurative “seasoned with salt” statement is saying this,  let your conversation be uplifting. Paul writes this letter so that we can “talk the walk” that Jesus came to live out among us. Christ’s divine-human nature exemplifies the life that we are to live today. Full of grace, Christ came to love, teach and give. His words that were “seasoned with salt” were spoken to point us towards His Father. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians from prison, it was meant to be encouraging and uplifting in a time when false teachers were drawing Christians away from the focus of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. His reminder that “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” reminds us of His supremacy over all things.

This passage reminds me of that of James chapter 3 and how he writes about the “Taming of the Tongue”. He asks the question, “Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring?” Essentially what he is asking is this, can our conversations or words reflect the love of Christ and curse mankind at the same time? According to James the answer is no! Unfortunately, this is how much of the world lives. We will never measure up to the standard of perfection lived out by Jesus because we were born into sin. It is important and key to our faith that we work diligently to reach for that measure of excellence, to ask Him to supply our needs, to give us the wisdom and courage to turn away from sin. The incarnation of Jesus happened so that we would be saved from our sins, so that we could return to a right relationship with our creator, our Father in heaven.  May our conversations be full of grace, uplifting and honoring to God so that others will see Him in us.

Family Foundations.


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If you have ever been through the process of buying a home, one of the first things you look at or have inspected is the foundation. You want to make sure that the house you buy is standing on a solid foundation. The discovery of a crack or weak foundation is often a sign that makes us look the other way, even when it might be our “dream home”.

In the book of Colossians chapter 3:18-4:1, The Apostle Paul echo’s his teaching in Ephesians 5 regarding the instructions for Christian households. In both passages Paul outlines the important characteristics each member (wives, husbands, children) must live out so that they are living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. The role or function of the Christian family as Paul describes it, serves as the true foundation that was originally intended in the beginning. Paul wrote to a group of Christians who were being influenced by false teachers, and in the same way today our self-interested societies have broken down and rebuilt many weaker foundations to define the family unit into what serves them the best. Paul uses some heavy-duty words like submit, love and obey to describe the characteristics of what should be found in a Christian household. Christ modelled this behavior during His time on earth in His relationship with His Father and we in turn look to emulate these things in our most personal connections as evidence of our own relationship with Christ. Just as these foundational elements cemented the bonds between God the Father and Son, when they are applied to human relationships they create firm footings for strong families to grow on.

I had the privilege of growing up in what I would described as a healthy Christian household according to the standards that Paul describes. Now, with that being said, our family has its share of quirks and tales of “potholed roads” just like most every family. We do not live in a perfect world, we must “devote ourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2) like Paul says so that the love we have for one another will exemplify the perfection of Christ’s love for us. Husbands must pray for their wives, wives for their husbands, and husbands and wives for their children. Our role, our function as a family is to bring glory to God and be solid foundation that others see and strive to build.