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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

Taking a long look in the mirror today. Probably should do it more often. I have a problem and except for God, no one can help me solve it. My problem is pride.

img_2356As a wife, mom, ministry leader, co-worker, I need to know about a lot of things. People count on me to keep track of details and schedules, managing minuscule bits of information for later retrieval. The problem is I think I need to know a lot about everything…things that are none of my business. I think about how I would solve a certain problem, and tell others my way. I think about how I would respond to someone’s issue, and then communicate it, even though it’s none of my concern. I poke my nose into other people’s problems and most are too nice to tell me to “butt out.”

I have a tendency to think my way of doing things, saying things, thinking things, is always the best way. Pride is a beautiful, ugly monster. The two-sided coin of believing in myself, but knowing I am but clay in the hands of the Master Potter. My trust cannot be in my own abilities, but in the Creator God who formed me in my mother’s womb. Ego is necessary for life…but without that mirror of self-reflection, it becomes a weapon of destruction.

Dan Rockwell writes a daily leadership blog that I find fascinating. His blog on the 10 Practices of Humility for Egotistical Leaders is one I need to read at least once a month. Probably should post it around my house and office too. He begins with the six symptoms of egotistical leadership…things like: ego thinks “I” and “me”…ego can’t be wrong…ego dismisses criticism and correction…and my personal favorite (cringe)…ego listens with a personal agenda. “What’s in it for me? How does this make me look? Who can I blame?”

So today I’m looking in the mirror – truly seeing the pride that has become a problem in all facets of my life and asking God to forgive me, give me a new heart of humility, to serve others before myself, to show Jesus to the people I’m surrounded by every day. I pray He shows me people I need to apologize to – for offending them – even unintentionally. I’m hoping He gives me opportunity to shine His light on others. Am I self-serving or others-serving? Because if I’m a leader, a co-worker, wife, mom, or “whatever” – I need to think “you”…not “me.”

Pride

 

 

 

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Sometimes I make the assumption that everyone has access to the same resources that I do. But that is not necessarily accurate. Yes – most people now have access to the internet and can google just about anything. But not everyone knows how to search online and not everyone has the time or inclination. And that World Wide Web is a super humongous place…easy to get lost and discouraged. So, today’s blog will highlight a few online devotional sites that continue to create wonderful content for us to enjoy.

Dayspring began as a greeting card company in California by four Christian men. They have grown into more than cards with inventory including gifts, home decor, books and Bibles. They also provide a daily devotional delivered right to your email every morning. Some are very short, such as this morning’s offering. Others a bit longer. All are excerpts from books published by Dayspring. If you’d like a quick devotion, easily read in a couple of minutes, this may be the right fit for you.

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An offshoot of Dayspring is another wonderful resource: (in)courage. Female writers from across the country are regular contributors, designed to encourage and enrich your life with real life, relevant material. The devotions are a little longer (probably will take 5-10 minutes each) but you’ll want to shout “Amen!” when you’ve finished. The authors are engaging, humorous, vulnerable and wise. By the time you’ve read a few, you’ll feel as though you’ve made new friends. They’ve recently published a CSB (in)courage devotional Bible. If I needed another Bible, I would certainly have this one. Sign up here to receive these wonderful daily blogs/devotions.

I’ve just recently come across the writings of Rachel Wojo…Her last name is so long and with so many consonants that she’s shortened it on every thing she publishes…and she publishes A LOT!. I first saw (and use every day) her monthly Bible reading plans. Then I looked through her website and saw so much wonderful, Biblical material. She says she started the website to keep herself accountable to God’s Word and to “help others enjoy fresh faith on a daily basis.” She has so much free material including free Bible study videos. Her testimony is amazing and inspiring. I couldn’t even begin to describe her life’s journey. Please, if you do nothing else today, take a peek at Rachel’s website.

That’s enough to get you started. Happy reading! May the Word of God sink deep into your hearts as you lean into Him more and more every day. I pray these resources will help guide you toward the Source of all Truth…Jesus.

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Fear of the Lord is fountain

Not all fear is bad. Not all fear puts you under the table in a fetal position. Not all fear keeps you bound up and irrational. Not all fear is a trap from the devil. In fact, the Bible is full of encouragement (and even commands) to fear…to fear the Lord.

Most of us would define fear as a “distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” And that is one definition. But the dictionary includes another definition of fear – a reverential awe, especially toward God. And that’s the very best kind of fear…one we should embrace and encourage, not shrink from.

I want to be wise, don’t you? And I want to live a long life. Those are just a few promises for those who fear the Lord. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:12

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…”

So what does it mean to fear the Lord? I’m not a theologian but I guess, for me, it means wanting what God wants, loving Him with all my heart, seeing people as He sees them, doing what He has placed in front of me to do, and obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice. It means reading and studying God’s Word, serving the Body of Christ and telling (with my voice and my actions) others about this wonderful Savior who died for my sins, and yours. It means repenting when I’ve sinned, praising Him in good times and bad, trusting Him when I don’t see any possible way out of a crummy situation, and knowing He loves me, no matter what I’ve done.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (according Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10). It is pure, enduring forever (Psalm 19:9a)…a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and can lengthen your days (Proverbs 10:27a). The fear of the Lord leads to life (Proverbs 19:23) and of course, what self-respecting Christian woman hasn’t claimed Proverbs 31:30 a time or two:

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Our fear of things (part 1) and our fear of man (part 2) are snares the enemy wants to trap us in to keep us ineffective in life and most especially, in the kingdom of God. Fear is never from God. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 specifically says that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind. I think that was the first Scripture my kids memorized after John 3:16. Spirt_of_fearWe used (and still use) it to ward off nightmares when the darkness threatens to overwhelm and our hope seems gone. Another favorite “fighting fear” Scripture is 1 John 4:18a – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

God has given us these weapons to defeat the schemes of the enemy in our lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom you need to wage warfare against the wrong fear. Commit once again to fear the Lord – the very best kind of fear!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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As much as we fight and complain, all of us want to get older. Because the alternative is obvious and no one really wants that road. But the path of aging is fraught with potholes and deer crossings and railroad tracks. Some places are well-paved, four-lane highways and others are one curve away from a two-lane dirt track made by migrating yaks. Aging isn’t pretty. But it is necessary and that means it’s my attitude that’ll make the difference between facing it with dignity and grace or petulance and irritability. We’ve all known those cantankerous old people…and I don’t want to be one.

I’ve never been too worried about getting older. My hair began it’s elegant slide toward silver back in my mid-30s. I was too cheap (and lazy) to purchase stock in Clairol so I’ve been au naturale for quite some time. And I’m perfectly fine about it. Oh, once in a while I’d make a joke about being the only gray-haired mother with preschoolers, but in reality, I am comfortable in my skin (or hair, as the case may be). (Side note: I’ve noticed the recent trend of young women coloring their hair gray – I wonder if that makes them cool or me cool?) I’ve been blessed with good health and with my recent weight loss and healthy life style changes, I’m looking forward to many more years to love and live. But I am on the back side  of my 50s and my body has given me a few signs that it’s not as young and agile as it once was. I’ve recently had to start taking a medication just because I’m now an “older woman.” Pretty much hate that.

So what’s necessary to age gracefully without succumbing to society’s marketing of youthfulness forever? First – admit it. Second – accept it. Third – Get past it.

Admit it – say this after me – “Yes, I’m getting older. Yes, my body is changing. No, I don’t have to look 15 (or 25, or 35 or even 45 for some of us) anymore. I am beautiful, inside and out, just as I am.”

Accept it – ok, we can talk the talk, but can we walk it out? Accepting the reality of our aging means acting it out in all we do. No more putting ourselves down as “the old lady” in the group (hey – I’m preaching to myself here). Take advantage of the wisdom that comes from living life. Feel free to buy clothes you like wearing and add some color. Everyone looks better in color. And remember, beauty comes from the inside so work on that inner beauty thing. It’s way more valuable than any lift, tuck or injection.

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Lastly, get past it. No more fixating on our age. It’s really just a number. “You’re only as young as you feel.” Nope – because somedays I feel 80 and somedays I feel 16…and that’s when I do something stupid. Like a cartwheel. More accurately, you are only as young as you determine in your heart you are. So, if you’d like to attend a concert with all 20-somethings, go for it. (I do it all the time – with the intention to never embarrass my children in attendance.) If you want to go rock climbing and have the ability, do it. If you want to learn a language, take a cooking class, run a 5k, get a dog, change your hair color, join a gym, buy a motorcycle, teach a class, write a book, volunteer at a homeless shelter, get a job, travel the world…go for it!

God has given us a number of days – He has a purpose for you and me. I want to live in such a way that God’s purpose is being fulfilled everyday. I don’t want to be one of those old ladies who look like they suck on lemons every morning. I want to embrace children and the elderly. I want to smile at strangers. I want to give love out of the abundance that Christ has put in my heart. As my husband often says, “I want to be saltier salt and brighter light.” It’s my choice and I choose to have a wise heart and youthful spirit, even while my body ages, gracefully.

 

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I started another challenge at the beginning of June. Reading through the whole Bible in 90 days. It’s hard. It probably takes me between 30-45 minutes a day to get through each large section of Scripture. So far I’ve galloped through Genesis, escaped with the Jews in Exodus, learned the Law in Leviticus, counted and re-counted in Numbers, dashed through Deuteronomy, defeated the enemies in Joshua and Judges, and lived the romance of Ruth. All in 19 days.

I hope you read the Word each day. You don’t have to take on this kind of challenge but I hope you take the time to listen to what God is saying from Genesis to Revelation. Oh – I can hear you now…all kinds of excuses. I know this because I’ve used them too…

I just don’t have time.

Yes you do. We all make time for what we value. It isn’t unspiritual to actually make an appointment with God. Makes perfect sense to me. We all keep appointments with doctors, teachers, accountants, friends, church activities…why can’t you schedule a time to read God’s story every day? I know many of you have young kids who take up boatloads of your time. Get them involved in your Bible reading. There is no better lesson they can see than Mom and Dad reading Scripture every day. They will understand the importance of Bible reading when YOU place it as a priority. Read with them – read it out loud to them (as always, use wisdom when reading certain portions to young children. “But Mom, God said to wipe them off the face of the earth,” says Billy as he straddles Susie in the backyard).

Yes – you may need to skip your daily dose of Facebook (at least 30 minutes of it), or pass on Dr. Phil or Judge Judy. Take a Bible audio app with you on a long walk. Multi-task with steps and Scripture. Now that’s how to get fit!

I just don’t understand it.

Then find a way. Use a different version. There are literally hundreds of versions to choose from. Go to a Bible website and browse. Try a new one every day, just as a test run. Maybe you learn better through the spoken word. Try an audio version. Maybe you like to see the Word come to life. There are DVDs which use the New International Version to “act out” Scripture – word for word. Don’t believe the lie that says “I’m just too dumb” to understand this stuff. There are all kinds of study helps available online. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of each book and He can give you understanding too. Ask for it. He wants to speak to you. He wants you to know Him and the only way you can is if you read what He’s written.

I’ve already read it once.

My husband is a really smart man. He knows the Word of God better than anyone else I know. He teaches it, lives it and breathes it. I don’t know how many times he’s read through the Bible but probably more than you have. Yet – he still does it. He still reads it every. single. day. You know why? Because he knows God still has a lot to say to him and he always finds out new things about God every time he reads it. Once is not enough. Twice is not enough. Keep at it. Don’t stop. Change it up if you want. Read a different version. The Message is kind of fun for a change of pace. Listen to it instead of read it. Watch it on video.

It’s boring.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the excuses are just that. Excuses. Once again – what you value you will pursue. If you find God’s Word boring (another word for “I just don’t get it”), then find a way to make it exciting. Read it with a friend. Challenge each other with a reading plan or a memorization plan. Read up on the backgrounds of the various authors. Determine to find something you can take away from each day’s reading. Recently I read through Leviticus. Before I started I determined I would find some practical lesson I could use. Quite a few people skip Leviticus. It’s a hard book to wade through. Lots of details. And I mean lots. But God was faithful. I found lessons on salt, blood, value, atonement, festivals & celebrations, grace, consuming fire, unauthorized fire, the holiness of God and how to approach & who can approach God. And finally, I learned God is in the details. He cares about everything. If He cares about skins sores and moldy houses, I’m pretty sure He cares about the details of my life too. See – Leviticus speaks to us today. Don’t skip it!

Find an accountability partner. Print off a paper Bible reading guide. Pray for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit who will teach you the deep things of God as you read His Word. I promise you – you will not be disappointed. The value of Scripture – the richness of His Word will saturate your Spirit and refresh your soul. A little side benefit – when you’re tired and worn down, only the Word that you’ve placed into your heart will revive and restore. When the battles rage around you, only His voice, speaking His Word, will keep you fighting. It isn’t called the Sword of the Spirit for nothing.

 

Dust it off and get started. No excuses. No regrets.

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Day 11 – Asking for help and advice makes me stronger

Maybe you can’t see this issue as one of “giving up” anything. But I choose to think of it as giving up my need to control and decide on my own. I’m not giving over my life to anyone but acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, someone else may have insights and wisdom which would benefit me. I’m a big believer in the wisdom of wisdom. Solomon fills the pages of the book of Proverbs with sayings about obtaining wisdom, choosing wisdom, listening to wisdom. For instance, Proverbs 19:20 says “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”

Thankfully I do have wise people around me who I listen to and learn from. My husband is my best friend and one of the wisest men I know. He is my confidante, my go-to guy when I need to vent (sorry about that), and when I need counsel. And he’s not afraid to tell me what he thinks. Most of the time. I do think I can be scary sometimes.

We’ve also got two young men who have learned the same principle. Asking for help and advice isn’t a weakness. Both have people in their lives, including their parents, who they trust to give wisdom, not just spout platitudes. For that we are very grateful.

But maybe you think, “I don’t need anyone – I know what I need to do – I’ve got enough common sense to take care of this on my own.” If that works for you every time, go for it. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. At one time or another, you probably have made a decision or chosen a path you wished someone had warned you about. In fact, that wise guy Solomon says “The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

Advice from friends is okay but sometimes listening to the wisdom of men can get you into a bind. See 1 Kings 12 where Solomon’s son Rehoboam gets into some serious trouble. Verse 13 says “Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men…”  This doesn’t work out well for him and only results in the splitting of Israel into two separate kingdoms. Not everyone is capable of giving out wisdom. But I know Someone who knows all, sees all and wants to see you succeed.

Jehoshaphat (godly king) tells the evil king of Israel (in 1 Kings 22:5) to seek the counsel of the Lord before heading into battle. The Psalmist says “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1) Your greatest source of wisdom will always be in the counsel of the Lord. So when you need help – ask for it. Find godly advisers, mentors and friends who you trust will give you sound counsel but in the end, trust in the wisdom which only comes from God.

Eph. 1:16-17 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better.

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