Apology - How to Deliver a True Apology
By Arthur J. Grossman © 2011

Has anyone ever apologized to you, and it seemed lackluster? Do some apologies sound more like excuses for bad behavior? What is a true apology and why does the quality of an apology matter?

Many attempts to make an apology resemble the following:
  • "I apologize for whatever I might have done."
  • "If you were hurt because of something I did, I am sorry."
  • "I don't know why you are so upset. If I did something, I am sorry."
  • "Sorry if I did something to offend you."

What is the meaning of "apology" and why do many apologies fail?

Ask others to define apology, and you will likely receive a myriad of definitions. The definition of an apology can also vary by culture. Aaron Lazare, in his book, On Apology, states that an apology is "an encounter between two parties in which one party, the offender, acknowledges responsibility for an offense or grievance and expresses regret or remorse to a second party, the aggrieved."

The origin of apology comes from the Greek word apologia meaning a spoken or written defense. The bottom line is that many attempted apologies fail because

1. They do not acknowledge and accept responsibility for the offensive conduct/behavior.
2. They fail to express authentic remorse for the bad conduct/behavior.
3. They fail to offer any ideas to remedy the hurt.

How does one apologize effectively?

Castles in the Sand

by Alan Allegra © 2011

Photo by Mark R. Butterfield copyright 2011
I had a brief conversation with an old friend recently. These days, the friends seem older and the conversations more brief! We were remarking on the shipwrecked economy, the floundering job market, and the fishy political scene:

Friend: "How do people without faith deal with all the uncertainty?"

Me: "Quick answer: Alcohol, drugs, sex, worry, denial, violence, you name it. Or they manufacture their own faith."

Friend: "And overeating."

Most people fall into at least one of those traps, even people of "faith." In reality, all those options require faith in times of trouble and doubt. We turn to that which we trust will provide us with, if not stability, at least temporary distraction from reality or brief numbness to pain.

The Lehigh Valley has weathered a lot of storms lately. We've experienced an earthquake, hurricane, record-breaking rain, floods, financial failures, and a myriad of miseries both public and private. There is very little that is under our individual control. We can't catch the wind in our fists, wish away cancer, print our own money, or personally fire the politicians we don't like. We can, however, choose whom or what we believe will help us through our difficulties.

Have you ever stood on the beach, with the waves lapping around your toes? Remember that feeling of awkwardness as the water receded, pulling the sand from under your feet? At my age, I feel like that all the time. But I digress. Have you ever stood on a rock under the same circumstances? Your feet were rock-steady, even as the water surrounded them and tried to pull them out to sea. The difference was neither the water nor the feet--the difference was where you chose to stand.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught how to live a rock-solid life of discipleship. Among other subjects, he touched on prayer and anxiety. He finished his instruction with this:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus knew that internal and external storms would come, so he warned us that the only safe shelter is faith in, and obedience to, his words. Faith and obedience are one and the same.

Who hasn't built sand castles on the beach, only to have them erode by water, wind, or a boot from a beach bully? Not too many piers are built on the sand; they are anchored on rock to withstand the relentless power of wind and wave. Fortresses and anchor points don't hold very well when built on sand. Neither do people.

After the foam on the beer fizzles, the spark of an illicit romance turns to ashes, worry runs out of wrinkles, and human philosophies fail to answer questions, the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). God is no sand castle: "I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'" (Psalm 91:2). 

Stand on the Rock of Ages when the stormy weather rages!

Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS

Food for Thought

I received this little story via an email from my sister. I wish I knew who wrote it so I could give proper credit. Let God work a miracle through you. It can happen! After reading the story, check out Bruce Wilkinson's book You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles. Be sure to use the Amazon search box to the right and support the work of Glory and Strength while you shop.  

Grocery List

Louise, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store.

She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.

John, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once.

Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.'

John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store. Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, 'Do you have a grocery list?'

Louise replied, 'Yes sir.'

'Okay,' he said, 'put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.'

Louise hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed.
How to Build Trust
by Greg Baker © 2010

It is much easier to lose someone's trust than it is to gain it. And few people are comfortable when someone says, "Trust me." Having to say it at all makes a fellow wonder.

Love is something that you give. Trust is something that you earn. It always takes significantly longer to gain someone's trust than it does to lose it. So if you have someone's trust, treat it like a rare coin. Don't spend a $1000 rare quarter on a 25 cent piece of gum. If you have someone's trust, it is a very special thing.

There are several factors that go into earning someone's trust:

1. Your personal history
2. Your ability to meet their expectations of behavior
3. Your wiliness to live within their rules of interaction
4. Your demonstration of effort

Actually, none of this sounds fair until you realize that people who want your trust have to demonstrate the same things to you. Let's look at them one at a time and see how they help to build other people's trust of us.

This one almost needs no comment. Your record is a hard thing to live down. If you've messed up in the past, are now repentant, wish to change, then study the other three factors in this article.

To the best of your ability, have a track record that demonstrates trust to people. Show people that you are trustworthy. If people know that you are a gossip, they probably won't tell you any secrets. It's just the way it is.

Life Lessons from The Help 
Pain Happens in a Broken World
By Poppy Smith

Have you read or seen the movie, THE HELP? If you have, you know it is a story about racism and the treatment of black maids who worked for white people in the South. People’s reactions range from outrage at the humiliation blacks have often received, to charges that it was biased and untrue.

I came out of the movie grieving. I not only felt wretched at the pain racism causes, but also at the hurt and suffering that comes when people mistreat others. Pain Happens in a Broken World. Being cruel to others, whether by actions or words, happens in every culture for many reasons: because individuals think they are superior for some reason due to their skin color, gender, position in society, wealth, or education. Whatever the reasons, they all flow from a sinful heart.

Have you been hurt?
  • Have you known what it is like to be looked down on, dismissed as unimportant, or made to feel unwanted? Have you experienced cruelty of some kind? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you wrestled with anger, wanting to get revenge, or feeling crushed and of no worth? In The Help, one of the poorly treated maids gets her revenge in a startling way. But revenge is God’s prerogative, and not ours to take (Romans 12:19).
  • Your pain might have come from someone you work with, live next to, or go to school with. Its source could be a relative or close family. Even fellow believers hurt others when operating in the flesh and not the Spirit. But no matter where your pain originated, it is something God wants to heal.
  • God Cares About You. Why should He care? Why does He call you to forgive those who have harmed you? Because He loves you and wants the appalling power of bitterness, hatred, and inner rage to stop poisoning your heart and your life.
  • God’s Path to Healing. How can you and I, followers of the Lord Jesus, indwelt by His Mighty and All-powerful Spirit, find freedom from pain? Only by forgiving the one, or many, who caused our pain.

  • Three necessary principles for dealing with pain:
  • Reject blame and bitterness. It doesn’t move you forward. It chains you to the past.
  • Pray for willingness to forgive. It is a process that often requires time to work through.
  • Forgive the offender. Be willing to release that person from your desire for revenge, or even for an apology. Realize they most likely have moved on and forgotten the incident. Remembering is only hurting you. Let it go.

  • Remember something else: the Lord is our Healer. He wants you to experience joy, no matter how much pain you have experienced. He wants you to THRIVE in every aspect of your life. And He has provided a way for this to happen! Will you walk in it?

    With her fun personality and passion for communicating life-changing truths, Poppy Smith inspires believers to thrive spiritually and personally. Poppy’s practical how-to messages (in print or in person) uses colorful examples from her own struggles to be more like Jesus. She encourages women (and men, at times) to grow in every kind of situation—whether joyful or painful! Poppy is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. She brings an international flair seasoned with humorous honesty as she illustrates Bible truths. A former Bible Study Fellowship Lecturer, Poppy’s teaching challenges women to look at their choices, attitudes and self-talk. As a result, God’s speaks, changing hearts, changing minds, and changing lives. The above article comes from Poppy’s recent Thrive e-newsletter. Receive Poppy’s Ten Tips for Saying “No” by signing up for her newsletter at: http://www.poppysmith.com/newsletters.htm

    Are You Prepared?

    By Debra L. Butterfield © 2011

    On Friday, someone broke into my apartment and walked out with my laptop. I’m thankful it was only my laptop and not everything else that could have been quickly sold at the pawn shop. All the same, my laptop had personal information on it that I now must take extra action to protect. Oh, I’ve read the articles about documenting your household items and credit cards, but I’ve just never taken the time to do it, and now I must pay the price. It’s a natural part of human nature to believe “It will never happen to me.” “It” might be cancer or a car accident or theft. Any crisis fits into the category of “it.”

    There are both practical and spiritual aspects to preparedness. Today’s cyber world makes finding helpful resources easy. Here are three sites I found to have advice on a plethora of topics from nuclear threat to hurricanes to fires to identity theft.

    Another practical aspect of preparedness is having a support network in place. Simply put, a support network consists of family and friends who are willing and able to help when you need it—lending a listening ear, offering advice, even babysitting the kids so you can have a break. (Developing a support system was covered in our July issue. For more information, please email me.) For a helpful support system worksheet by Will Baum, LCSW, visit http://www.willbaum.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/My-Support-System-_Today-and-In-the-Future_.pdf 

    The spiritual aspect is a bit more difficult to address. Our world is filled with many faiths and even the word “spiritual” has a variety of connotations in today’s society. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew or otherwise, having a strong foundation in your chosen faith is important. It is not my intent to offer advice to all faiths. I cannot because I do not have a thorough understanding of them. Surely one piece of advice can apply to all and that is know the doctrinal tenets of your faith. Can you expect your Higher Power to help you, or is He/She/It just watching? Beyond that I will direct advice to those who profess the Christian faith.

    Not Alone

    By Kristi Bothur © 2011

    “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

    Have you noticed that every month there is something to be “aware” of? Take October. One website lists over 60 different ways to be “aware” in October ranging from “Cut Out Dissection Month” to “Squirrel Awareness Month” to “Spinach Lovers Month.” On a more serious note, the national focuses for October also include Breast Cancer Awareness, Depression Education and Awareness, Domestic Violence Awareness, and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.

    All joking aside, what attraction does an Awareness Month hold for us? What about it inspires passion and involvement? I think there are several things. An awareness month for an issue that we have had personal involvement with validates our experience and our emotions. It elevates a personal hardship to national importance, at least for a short time. And most of all, it serves to remind us that we are not alone. Whether we join in a walk for breast cancer survivors, or participate in a fundraiser for domestic violence awareness, or wear a pin to remember a baby lost in a miscarriage, we are confessing our membership in a community larger than ourselves. We are declaring solidarity with others who have walked the same path we have, and we are seeking to both receive strength from, and give it to, others.

    People desperately want to know that in life’s deepest and darkest moments, they are not alone.

    Don’t we all want that? I know I do. I want to know that others have gone through the same things I have and have come out whole on the other side. I want to know that I’m not the only one to struggle with illness, or with losing a baby, or with controlling my tongue. I want to know I’m not the only one struggling with life. And so I reach out to others – in friendships, in support groups, in Bible study groups, even through books and blogs. In all of these, we can build connections with others and know we’re not alone as we struggle with life together.

    But there’s another, even deeper, connection we can build with someone who has experienced every struggle of life – and that is Jesus. God was not content to give us orders from on high. He came to earth Himself, walked around with us, got dirty, experienced the same things we do. The apostle John says that Jesus “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14) – in modern language, he pitched his tent in the midst of our own. And just as different awareness months can help us know that there are others like us who have shared in the same difficulties and struggles, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus shared fully in our humanity. He was “fully human in every way” (Hebrews 2:17). He knew loss, and betrayal, and abuse, and grief, and abandonment. He is not “a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

    Jesus was indeed Immanuel, “God with us” – and we can know that the God who was with us then is still with us now, giving us the power to rise above the struggle in victory as we “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

    If you know Jesus as your Savior, don’t hesitate to reach out to Him in your time of need. And if you are wondering how to do that, feel free to contact me or anyone else at Glory and Strength to learn how to begin this eternal relationship.

    Jesus, sometimes I feel alone in my life struggles. I know there are others who I can turn to, but help me to especially turn to you, knowing that you understand every hurt, and can give me mercy and grace in my time of need. Amen.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of four—one on earth and three in heaven.  She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or shortly after birth, and she has a passion for sharing the truths of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life.  She and her husband are beginning a ministry called "Naomi's Circle" for parents of babies in heaven, and she blogs regularly at www.naomiscircle.blogspot.com.  You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com.  Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter.


    By Jenni Saake © 2011

    When I was a little girl I was in a musical. One of the catchy tunes included the words, “Self-control is just controlling yourself. It's listening to your heart and doing what is smart. Self-control is the very best way to go, so I think that I'll control myself.”

    Cute song, but I'm afraid the definition of “listening to my heart” doesn't always lead me in the best direction. In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 tells me, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out” (The Message). When I'm listening to my heart, I'm prone to be swayed by my own selfishness. Selfish motives rarely lead to smart decisions!

    It may sound funny, but when I think of self-control, I think of television commercials for bladder incontinence products such as Depends. Why? Because when the Bible talks about self-control, the original Greek word used actually means “continence,” or the ability to control one's own bodily functions and discharges, especially in the context of sexual urges. With that picture in mind, it's easy to see that I can't depend on my own heart to always lead me down the right path, otherwise there would be no urges in need of control.

    The tricky part about self-control is that little word, “self.” What if I replace “self” with “God,” so that rather than listening to my heart, I'm intentionally seeking God's best for me in any given situation? If I'm asking God to be in the driver's seat, I can fully depend on Him to help me make smarter choices in life.

    A lifestyle of asking God's direction in every circumstance can be described as “dying to self.” I know, dying doesn't sound like an attractive invitation at all, does it? What does this dying-to-self kind of self-control (God-control) even look like? How does it work?

    The good news is that God never asks for any form of death without offering His abundant life as greater replacement value. What may seem like painful sacrifice, like saying no to the offer of physical love when someone temps me to look for sexual gratification outside God's guidelines of marriage, yields rewards like peace and self-respect, far greater than the momentary thrill I'm turning away.

    “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message).

    While listening to my heart may lead to nothing but heartache, God doesn't leave me guessing about His best for me. I can trust that His plan is the most dependable one around. If I could sit down with the little girl I was 30 years ago and teach her a new song, I think it might go something like this. “Self-control cannot just depend on myself. It's listening to God's heart to find out what is smart. God-control is the very best way to go, so each day I choose to die to self.”

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Saake, know as “InfertilityMom,” is the author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss. She blogs about natural beauty, seeking hope in the midst of life’s heartaches, and life as a homeschooling mom. Jenni lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and XMRV, a retrovirus related to HIV. She is currently writing a book on the life of Paul as encouragement for facing chronic pain and illness.

    Monday Feature

    The Forgiveness Song
    By Teri Daniels © 2011

    “What he did is unforgivable. Don’t you agree?”
    Shelly asks this question nearly every time I see her.
    I knew she didn’t want to hear my answer, so I gave her the sad grimace she expected, allowing her to continue to vent about her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
    The first time she asked this question, I gave her the traditional Christian response, “God can forgive anything, and he can help us to forgive as well.” Shelly did not like my answer.
    I knew her struggle came not just from the pain of her husband’s betrayal, but also from the fact that he never admitted to any wrongdoing. Instead he tried to shift all the responsibility for their pending divorce to her.
    Somehow in his mind, he found a way to blame Shelly for his inability to hold a full-time job, his concealment of the foreclosure proceedings and the final straw—his betrayal of their wedding vows with an affair.
    “The boys know what their father did. I don’t know how they will ever forgive him.”
    My response was to tell Shelly I hoped her sons would be able to forgive him, for their sake. God’s word calls us to forgive so that we ourselves will be forgiven—but even scientific studies have shown how debilitating unforgiveness is to our mental and physical health. MayoClinic.com lists reduced risk of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, alcohol and drug abuse as just a few of benefits of forgiveness.
    Every time I see my friend, she wears a stiff mask over the pain that seems fresh every day. After two years, divorce proceedings are finally underway. Her anger has been deepened by the need to live in a state of limbo—married, but without a husband.
    When I assured Shelly that forgiveness did not mean she would stay married to him or ever trust him again, she continued to call his actions unforgiveable. I realized she could not even imagine forgiving her husband. She wanted to vent and she needed me to listen. Proverbs 25:20 says that to sing songs to a heavy heart is like vinegar poured on a wound. I wanted to bring healing, not vinegar, so I stopped singing the song of forgiveness.
    For now, I continue to pray for Shelly’s emotional and spiritual health. I ask God to protect her sons from the belief that some sins cannot be forgiven. I imagine a world where her husband confesses his sin and asks forgiveness, but so far that has not happened. It may never happen.
    Even so, I believe our all-powerful God can redeem every situation. I so wanted that for my friend that I tried to take her there myself. But she is still in the process of grieving her loss. Her heart is broken and she needs time to “bind up her wounds” before she can focus on obeying God’s word. She has lost a husband, a home, and even her future must now be re-imagined.
    As her friend, I stand ready to encourage her to forgive—when the time is right. I pray one day soon, Shelly will share with me how God has helped her forgive the unforgiveable.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teri Daniels is an aspiring writer, the mother of two sons who has been blessed with three grandchildren. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. You may contact her at TeriDaniels4G@yahoo.com.