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Showing posts from March, 2014

Principle 3: The Pot of Gold

All over the world people are hoping to hit the big winnings of the lottery or some contest.  They faithfully march to the local establishments selling the tickets in order to make their "weekly investment" into the "big ticket".  Some play the same numbers week after week, determined it will be THEIR week this week.  Forbes magazine published an article November 28, 2012 entitled "Why Winning Powerball Won't Make You Happy" written by Susan Adams.  In the article, she cites multiple studies which point out the IMMEDIATE high or exuberance of winning, but the quick return to a low point within just a short point in time.  Why?  She concluded that "while winning the lottery can make a difference, it won't affect the other conditions of your life".  This is so true! We can "bet" on the windfall, or we can count on the certainty of what God provides.  The choice seems pretty simple to me, but obviously there are a whole lot of oth…

Principle 2: Hanging With Hotheads

Yesterday we began our study into the thirty principles Solomon laid out which he indicated as an indicator of our trust in God - if we live by these principles, then our foundation will be one of trust.  They also act as principles which will help to hold us accountable for our actions and attitudes.  Today, we explore the second in these principles - the company we keep.  As you may recall, we explored our attitude toward those who have "need" or "weakness" in their lives yesterday.  This attitude determines a great deal as it comes to how we interact within the "boundaries" of Christian love or not.  Today, it is the company we keep - those who we associate with the most - which we will explore.  Why is this important?  Wrong relationships are as dangerous as wind is to fire.  Pick the wrong ones to engage with and you will find your world set on fire, but not a fire you can control!
Don’t hang out with angry people;don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad …

Principle 1: The Poor and Weak Cannot Be Ignored

Wouldn't it be nice if someone gave us a list of principles to incorporate into our lives which would help us to walk uprightly and consistently find favor in the eyes of God?  Well, guess what - Solomon did that for us!  He gave us a list of 30 principles to guide us along the way.  Here is what he had to say as he introduced them:   Listen carefully to my wisdom;take to heart what I can teach you.  You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within; you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.  To make sure your foundation is trust inGod, I’m laying it all out right now just for you.  I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—tested guidelines to live by.  Believe me—these are truths that work, and will keep you accountable to those who sent you.  (Proverbs 22:17-21 MSG) Now, if someone is willing to take the time to outline these principles for us with the intention of making sure our foundation is trust in God, doesn't it seem like we should probably explore these principles and …

Are you compulsive?

A compulsion is a strong, oftentimes irresistible impulse to perform some particular action often contrary to what you know to be right or justified.  If you don't struggle with any compulsive behaviors EVER in your life, you probably are not normal.  Compulsive behaviors are part of all of humanity - some to higher degrees than others.  There are those who go to the excess - known as obsessive compulsive.  Then there are just those of us who know things are not right for us to be doing, but we just go ahead and do them anyway, despite the inward struggle occurring which is attempting to warn us not to pursue that particular course of action.  Compulsions are "fed" or "denied" - by our response to their "pulling" effect.  When we deny them, we are starving them and hoping they will fade away, giving us no more problems later on.  When we feed them, we often don't know how hard it will be to resist the urge the next time.  Learning how to control o…

You decide

We all have desired or intended results to every action we take in life.  Even setting the alarm before bed is an action intended to awaken us at a particular time to afford us the opportunity to be up, dressed, and engaged in some activity.  Some of our "aims" in life are little rote - like setting the alarm to awaken in the morning.  Others are a little spontaneous - such as when someone calls and asks if you want to hang out a while.  You manage to drop a few things you have going and make plans with the individual because you enjoy the relationship and want to get together.  Still other "plans" or "aims" in life are a little more formalized, take a little longer to accomplish, and serve a specific purpose - as when we make a savings plan or choose to live by a budget.  I don't consult anyone when I set the alarm - because I "own" that activity for my life.  I do consult someone when I want to change my investments to have them perform a …

You riding a bicycle or tricycle?

Ruined lives surround us no matter where we live.  People start out well, but somehow through a series of misadventures and wrong turns, their lives end up in a state of shambles, almost like falling down shacks.  Along the way, they may have heard advice to not take a certain path, or to turn away from what they were pursuing with such earnest.  In ignoring the warnings, they compounded their misfortune and increased their speed of decline.  Now, at the bottom of the pit, they live with nothing more than regrets and the constant wondering of the "what if".  The worrisome part of their decline into the pit is the possibility of them having blamed God for the decline - for putting them in the pit.  In reality, it was their failure to heed warnings, to turn away from their self-directed pursuits.  Why is it we blame God when things end in ruins?  He isn't a God of "ruin", but of "hope", "possibilities", and even "impossibilities".  
P…

Got spirit?

After watching various individuals go through turmoil and trial in their lives, I have observed the tendency for some to rise high, soaring above that turmoil, while others sink lower into the pit of despair.  It made me wonder why some flourish so well, while others just barely eek by and often have a hard time even holding up under the pressures of life.  Most of us would think it is because some are anchored well in their faith, while others have little to no faith at all, so if faith plays a part in "holding up" and "conquering", then what part does it play?  I have observed Christians and non-Christians alike in both circumstances.  Why do some flourish and others not - maybe it is because of the condition of their spirits.  Scripture points us in that direction, does it not? A man or woman with a "healthy spirit" conquers adversity - a crushed spirit will get us down quicker than anything else!
A healthy spirit conquers adversity,but what can you do …

Modeled grace

Forgiveness is not one of those things we fall into naturally - it is definitely a "learned art" because it takes a whole lot of practice to really get it right!  At first, we think we forgive just by telling someone it is okay, but still expecting them to somehow "repay" the debt caused by their misdeed.  After a while, we learn we are not supposed to hold the debt against them, which raises the bar for us a whole lot because we have to let the debtor off the hook!  It is one thing to let go of the hurt caused by the infraction, but quite another to actually let go of whatever we feel we are "owed" because of it!  Two common things we struggle with as it applies to forgiveness is the debt owed and the sense that the circumstances cannot be forgotten.  As long as we hold the debt in our heart and/or the memory in our minds, we still have some strings attached - the person is not totally released as far as we are concerned. As you can see, this is definite…

Got any enemies?

Ever wonder how to get your enemies to settle down and live at peace with you?  I have and in fact, I have jumped through many a hoop I thought would "settle the pack", but in fact did nothing more than just entertain them - giving them more to poke fun at.  During a particularly challenging season in my life in my career, I learned something though.  In the darkness of that season, lasting about half a year, I was daily challenged as a leader, criticized for decisions made, and even received threatening and demeaning letters of accusation, some bordering on threats.  The times were challenging and I came close to throwing in the towel several times, almost thinking walking away was the best means to an end.  Yet, in the darkness of the hour, I learned something which I have held onto - my reputation may be criticized, torn apart, and even drug through the mud, but my "life" could not be challenged. Why?  Simply put - I chose to live my life in a manner pleasing to…

Are you a fritterer?

Fritter:  To squander or disperse piecemeal; waste little by little; break or tear into small pieces or shreds; dwindle or shrink away.  Are you a "fritterer"?  If you have a tendency to just put off until tomorrow what could be done today, you might be one who fritters away time.  If you lean toward just letting things go until they cannot be ignored any longer, you might be one who fritters away opportunities.  If you believe relationships just happen and there isn't much to their upkeep, you might be one who is frittering away the very best in your life.  Things or opportunities we waste little by little are seldom "taken back" or "reclaimed" at a later time - once wasted, it is as though we never had them in the first place.  Therefore, it is important to examine how we fritter away our time, energies, resources, and opportunities - especially as it applies to being in relationship with God and those he has placed in our lives.
A life frittered awa…

And the winner is....

Years ago, my mother was one of those "faithful" Publisher's Clearing House devotees.  Every week, she'd receive mailings touting the possibilities of her numbers being the winning numbers which could yield her a landfall of millions of dollars.  Her response is what makes the Publisher's Clearing House so successful - she bought and bought stuff just because she felt it increased her chances of winning!  Stuff we didn't even need - poor quality, cheaply made.  I will admit, there were a few "trinkets" she'd get which actually made a good gadget around the house, but in general, it was stuff we could have purchased for much less at the local dollar store!  After several years of this, we received a mailing indicating she would no longer be receiving these notices.  Why?  It seems the State Attorney Generals of multiple states had taken action against the Clearing House to stop their "marketing" to the elderly as they were "preying…

Aching to pray

We often discount the influence of God's Spirit within us, but also how much he does on our behalf as we walk through the daily grind.  If you have ever been at the point of just not knowing what to do next because the situation just seems to be overwhelming you, you probably have been at the point you just want to give up instead of plunging ahead.  In those moments of frustration, the Spirit of God is within us encouraging, exhorting, and elevating us from the position of frustration to the place of possibility.  If we were to be entirely honest here, we'd admit that even our prayers get a little scattered in these times and we might not even want or know how to pray.  Thank goodness we have the Spirit of God to keep those prayers rising to the throne of God even when we cannot figure out how to pray or what to pray!
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He …

Pardon my soap box

There is always a danger of taking a portion of scripture, then choosing it to hang onto as meaning something, but not considering the context in which it is written.  This is why Jesus commended those who would study the scriptures, learning to rightly divide them, and then to proclaim them with the boldness he provides.  In order to get at the context of our study today, we must understand that God is doing a new thing in the New Testament church - he is establishing a group of believers (some converted Jews, others converted Gentiles) into a cohesive group.  In turn, he wants to direct how it is the church is to grow.  It is with the use of all the tools he provides - including the various leaders of the church, the scriptures, and the proper alignment of Old Testament teaching with the New Testament fulfillment.  He doesn't discount the Old Testament, but helps the believers to understand how the prophesies of the Old have been fulfilled in the New.  As the believers come toge…