Showing posts from August, 2011

Silence speaks volumes

1-2  Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, and also obedience.       You hear the prayer in it all.  (Psalm 65:1-2) The "prayer in it all" is the key to this verse - God hears both our silence and our spoken word - but don't forget the third thing he "hears" - our obedience.  Silence is the absence of sound or noise - when there is a "perfect stillness" we call that an absence of motion.  We often don't think we have made a connection with God unless we are able to experience the noise or movement of that connection (like when we cry out loud or lift our hearts in worship). Our psalmist reminds us that silence is praise!  Even in the quietness of waiting in his presence, we praise our God.  It is a difficult thing to do sometimes, but when we actually do stop long enough to simply admire him, we connect with him in new ways!   He also reminds us that our obedience is also praise to God.  We rarely equate obedience to praise - but God doe

Defense Let Down

  15  Patient persistence pierces through indifference;    gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses. (Proverbs 25:15) Indifference is really a condition of the heart and mind in which a person has determined that they have little interest or concern.  Another term we use that is quite similar to indifference is the term "mediocrity".  There are some telltale signs that someone is pretty much indifferent, or that they have "settled" for a position of mediocrity in their lives.  An indifferent individual might look like this: - Apathetic to the needs of their life or those of another - Calm, cool indifference in the face of what would cause uneasiness or apprehension in others - A seeming absence of emotional connection with others or circumstances around them When you hear indifference described that way, you might think of an individual who struggles with frequent periods of depression, but they are not the only ones that experience this kind of apathy or distan

Prepared, Ready, and Fit

13-18 Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (Ephesians 6:13-18) Be prepared - isn't this one of the mottoes of the Scouts?  Preparation is really a a state of being properly expectant - the idea being that we are equipped and ready for whatever comes.  How many times do we hear people tell us, "That caught me off-guard!" and wonder just how something that seems so "simple" to us was almost "

Labels Aren't Reliable

Don't judge wine by its label,    or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—    the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. (Proverbs 23:31-32) I am not a connoisseur of wine, so I know very little about what makes a good bottle of wine.  You could show me one bottle right after another, and I would probably do what anyone who knows wine would cringe at - I'd pick it by the pretty label or the nice bottle!  The one who consumes the product in the bottle is the one who knows it best!   This passage speaks a lot more to me, though.  I think we do a whole lot of "label" reading, even a little look inside, then come to the conclusion that whatever we are examining looks good.  It isn't until we have consumed it fully (or it has consumed us) that we understand just how lousy the thing was!  We are left with a really bad taste from the experience of "consuming" what it was we were judging by nothing more

Leave the driving to him

24-26 "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26) I remember driving with a friend of the family when I was about twelve.  The gentleman drove like none other that I have driven with since!  I was in the backseat, hanging on for dear life, and just hoping that we made it to his home sooner than later!  Not only did he drive a little faster than I'd been accustomed to, but he was kind of a "hopper" in his driving.  I don't really know how to describe it, but what he was doing was pushing down on the gas, lurching forward, then pulling back on the gas just as quickly.  It was like we were zooming, slow

A Tangled Mess

8  Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road. (Proverbs 21:8) "Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that's not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything." (Colossians 2:8) Big words and intellectual double-talk are merely a smoke-screen for people to attempt to dazzle us with their intelligence.  I have learned that "intelligence" really is not all that it is cracked up to be!  Some

Identity Theft

"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." (Matthew 5:48) I received a new credit card this week that I will use when traveling.  I specifically requested this card because of the "benefits" that come with it.  One of the many benefits is the coverage for purchases that are made by someone "pretending" to be me.  Today, we call that "identity theft" and there is a great deal of security built into our banking systems in order to keep someone from stealing our identity. There were groups of people in Jesus' time known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Each were a "sect" of the Jewish culture known for their religious duties.  The Sadducees were the "upper class" of the social structure.  They held roles in politics, religious matters, and even some very honore

Never been this way before!

1-4  Joshua was up early and on his way from Shittim with all the People of Israel with him. He arrived at the Jordan and camped before crossing over. After three days, leaders went through the camp and gave out orders to the people: "When you see the Covenant-Chest of  God , your God, carried by the Levitical priests, start moving. Follow it. Make sure you keep a proper distance between you and it, about half a mile—be sure now to keep your distance!—and you'll see clearly the route to take. You've never been on this road before." (Joshua 3:1-4) You've never been on this road before - I think this is the hallmark statement of Joshua's life.  He was assuming leadership of Israel just after the death of Moses.  The people are ready to move into the Promised Land of Canaan.  He has been commissioned to be the leader who will bring them in and help them settle into the land.  He had a lot to live up to and I am certain he was a little concerned that he might fai

All Things to All Men

19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! (I Corinthians 9:21-23) This past week has been a week filled with what some may call "selfish" prayers.  You know the kind of prayers I mean - the ones that start with, "Lord, it is me again..."  Those prayers we all pray are the very ones that God enjoys so much hearing!   We sometimes don't want to lift our needs befor

The Well Within

5  Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;    a wise person draws from the well within.  (Proverbs 20:5) Knowing what is right and actually doing it are two entirely different things.  I know that it is right to drive the speed limit, but when I see all the other cars going 5-10 mph over the speed limit, it is much easier to "go with the flow" than to be dragging behind with cars swerving all around me.  When faced with a choice between what is right and what is clearly wrong, I should not be amazed at how freely we embrace the latter!  It is a common occurrence for us - it is part of our nature to choose the "wrong stuff", even when the "right stuff" is right there for the choosing. How do we know what is right?  Too many times, we rely upon our experience to help us determine what is "right" in a circumstance.  For instance, if we have experienced the pain of a throbbing thumb after crushing it under the blow of a hammer, we c

What's under the hood?

14  A healthy spirit conquers adversity,    but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? (Proverbs 18:14) A healthy spirit has conquering power!  There is a soundness and vigor that is evident when the spirit is in a place of "health".  Our writer asks a tough question:  What can you do when the spirit is crushed?  That's a tough one - even though your first answer might be to turn to Jesus to have him heal it!  That is kind of like a "pat answer" for all of our life's problems.  Yet, we often turn to him for health without even realizing what it was that brought us to the point of being crushed! We rarely get into a place where we have "crushed" spirits because we were blind-sided by some event, course of discussion, or infirmity of mind.  The emotional investment we make into our daily walk with Christ is a pretty good indicator of how "healthy" our spirit is.  When we are emotionally "invested", we might find ourselves

7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

25  Ants are creatures of little strength,    yet they store up their food in the summer... (Proverbs 30:25) There was a leadership book published years ago by self-help guru Steven Covey entitled "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".  For a while, that was all we heard about in leadership training seminars.  People jumped on the bandwagon touting the wisdom of the teachings of this book.  The idea seemed to be that if leaders everywhere would just embrace these teachings, all would be well with the world! has been on the market since 1989 and I am not seeing much difference! As I was waking this morning, an idea came to mind.  It was simply, what would you classify as the seven habits of highly ineffective people?  So, in keeping with my usual method of working this thought out in my mind, I am sharing my answers with you!  If you feel so move, please add to my list via comment.  There may be some I just did not consider and you're always welcom

Peacocks Beware

18  First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (Proverbs 16:18) 12  Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor. (Proverbs 18:12) 16  Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice. (Psalm 51:16) Ever notice just how many times the Bible speaks about pride?  I put only three passages here, but you get the gist.  God takes our attitude about our self and others quite seriously.  He knows the danger of being too big for our own good! Pride is pretty much having an opinion of your importance, merit, or superiority that is not always in proportion to our true importance, merit, or superiority!  We think more of ourselves than we do others.  The fact is, we all struggle with pride in one way or another.  It may not be as evident in some circumstances, but it is pre