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Listening Carefully…

Hello Friend!  I haJuly23ve been going through a bible study recently by Beth Moore called “Sacred Secrets”.  In it she gives the following as a standard to go by for the levels of intimacy we have with others who we come in contact with throughout our daily lives:  “Authenticity with all, Transparency with most, Intimacy with some”.  This struck me as such a wise standard to keep in mind as it was read.  Transparency with all is unwise as we must discern who can be trusted, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those who may be hurt by an unscrupulous person with some types of knowledge, yet at the same time, transparency is to be sought after through living a life that is open, honest and full of integrity.  Emotional intimacy is not to be sought after with everyone we meet as we are not designed to have intimate friendships where we share those deeper thoughts and emotions with everyone.  Yet at the same time, we are designed to need a certain amount of intimacy with a few, and are not designed to be complete loners (despite the protestations that some might make to this thought!).

Reading this brought to mind the example that Jesus set throughout his lifetime of relationships.  He had one friend whom He was closest to and that was the Apostle John.  He then had a circle of three with whom He spent time sharing a depth of friendship not found in other relationships.  He had the group of 12 with whom He not only shared his life, but mentored and led in a very personal way.  Then there was the larger crowd of followers who were around Him, but with whom He was not as personally and intimately involved with.  Someone compared this to our need for one who will be our closest friend (hopefully this is your spouse if you are married), a circle of three who will be those in whom you confide and are emotionally open to, a larger group with whom you will share your life and have influence with, and then the crowd of acquaintances who your life will touch and where their lives will also touch yours, but not to the depth of the first three types of friendships.  At every level, there should be authenticity, which can sometimes be a challenge, but as we see it in the recorded life of Jesus, we know it should be sought after for ourselves as well.

Today we are reading through Proverbs, chapter 23 in search of the wisdom with which we will tackle this day!

Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge.” (verse 12)

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What Is True Humility?

July22Good Morning, Friend!  As I contemplate the many blessings and good things in my life this morning, I am extremely thankful for each one of them.  Once again, I am reminded that the focus with which I begin each day has so much impact on how I go throughout the day, how I treat those I come into contact with and even how much enjoyment there will be found in this day.  When I get to the end of the day today, will I have made any new friends, encouraged anyone, or in some way helped someone else’s life to improve?  On the other hand, will I have picked up an offense, hardened my heart towards someone or some situation in some way or have allowed irritation to dictate harsh words and/or an unhappy countenance?  I recently saw a poster which said “Self-control: Stop. Think. What could happen?  Is that what you want?” It’s interesting and freeing to stop in the morning and think of self-control as something that we can exercise over our attitude and which when the decision has been made to have a good one, a good day will naturally result.

Proverbs 22 is the chapter we are reading through today in search of the wisdom needed to live our lives by.  As we typically read the chapter corresponding to the date of the day and then choose one verse to focus on for the day, my verse today is:

True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” (verse 4)

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Collecting Moments

July21Hello Friend!  I saw a quote recently which simply said “Collect moments, not things.” (anonymous)  It has been stuck in my mind as I’ve mulled it over, asking myself “What things should I let go of?” and “What moments should I collect more of?”  A picture of my grandparents farmhouse came to mind as I thought this over.  They were not people who collected a lot of “things”, but what they did collect was “moments”.  Many was the casual visitor to their home and even as a grandchild staying the night, I would often get up in the morning, and going out to the kitchen for breakfast, find both family and friends around the kitchen table.  These visitors would often stop by for a morning cup of coffee and might end up enjoying a plate of pancakes as well as getting some visiting in, before going on their way for the day.  A bank of windows lined the kitchen and dining area of their house,  spreading along one entire wall as the two rooms were connected, and whether sun was streaming in or raindrops filled the panes, the atmosphere was rich with warmth from a welcoming and hospitable home.  Are you a collector of “moments” such as these, Friend?

Today, we are reading through Proverbs, chapter 21.  Our search for the wisdom to live our lives well, without regret, and with purpose and intentionality begins with these quiet times spent perusing God’s Word and in prayer, asking for that specific revelation of how to apply the truths learned to our day today.

The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act.”  (verse 29)

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Wisdom Regardless of Age

July20Good Morning Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  This morning, following a recent doctor’s appointment, I am contemplating the fact of the frenetic pace of the average American’s life.  I had gone in to the doctor with a concern and was told that it was a very common concern and one which many times was related to the typical American’s busy, stress-filled, driven and goal-oriented life!  She told me that she typically sees 2-3 people per day with this concern.  She had many great suggestions that will help when implemented, but I have to wonder how this lifestyle has not only become so accepted, but expected and even venerated.  In fact, at one job interview I went on a few years ago, the ability to live this type of lifestyle was actually being evaluated for in the applicants.  It was cleverly disguised as “capacity”, but nevertheless, meant that one was being evaluated as to whether one could work in an often stressful environment (due to the volume and intensity of work expected to be accomplished), was willing to put in as many extra hours as needed (including some evenings and weekends in addition to a normal work week), and was to be “excellence” driven.  While none of these things are necessarily bad when kept in balance, have you, like me at times, given in to the expectation of a frenetic pace of life as being “normal” at least to a point, Friend?  The great thing about the bible and the book of Proverbs in general is that the need for balance is taught and a greater degree of balance in life is definitely something I am seeking for.

Proverbs, chapter 20 is our chapter to read through for today, seeking for that wisdom that we need in order to find a place of balance for our lives.

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” (verse 20)

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Stepping Up To The Plate

July19Good Morning, Friend! This morning I was reading about the life of Michal, whose story is found in 1 Samuel 18 & 19 and 2 Samuel 6.  As I read of how she went from a happy wife to King David and even saved his life when her father (who was his predecessor as king) sought to kill him, to a only few years later when she is seen as ridiculing and mocking her husband, it brought to mind how easily we can drift and change over time.  Change in attitude or thought processes can come so slowly that we are barely aware of it.  Yet when we pause and take the time to reflect about where we were five or even ten years ago spiritually, mentally, emotionally, in the ways of character and integrity and heart-intent, and then compare that to where we are now, what will we find?  Author John Maxwell says it well when he writes about this in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, “The first law is the Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen. We don’t improve by simply living. We have to be intentional about it.”  Are you being intentional about growth today, Friend?  I know that this is a question which I am asking myself as well when thinking through the alternative of slipping slowly, unknowingly, backward if one is not careful.

Proverbs, chapter 19 is our chapter to peruse this morning in search of the wisdom that will bring growth when implemented.

Discipline your children while there is hope.  Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” (verse 18)

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The Right Words Bring Satisfaction

July18Hello, Friend!  Have you ever found yourself desperately wanting a certain thing or maybe a certain situation to come in to being, hoping and wishing for it and even praying for it and then at long last, you are able to own the thing you had wanted or be in the situation desired and you suddenly realize that it’s not all that you anticipated it to be?  I think that most of us have experienced this at one time or another.  Perhaps you’ve been a parent of small children and find yourself waiting for the day that they are grown and then when they are grown, their sweet hugs and childish voices are now desperately missed!  Perhaps you’ve been the one who couldn’t wait to get out of school and on your own, yet when that time came, you had to come to grips with the realities of work life and school now seems to have been relatively care-free.  The habit of thankfulness for each and every thing we are experiencing today and the art of truly living in the present are the sought-after antidotes to this very real possibility.  At times, I have even heard people wish for the days when they were not so financially well off as they are perceived as having been simpler and less complicated, yet if the truth were to come out, those same people probably were wishing for more during that time!

Proverbs, chapter 18 is our chapter to read through today.  As I prayerfully read through this chapter today, praying the words from Psalms 119:18, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”, this is the verse that caught my attention:

Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction.” (verse 20)

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How Much Control Do We Have?

July17Good Morning, Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  There are times when a good friend can almost be detrimental to how one has determined to make changes in their life unfortunately, would you not agree?  Recently I had determined within myself not to complain anymore about a certain situation, yet when I saw my friend, they immediately knew that I was somehow unsettled.  Their sympathetic ability to listen brought it all out and as I verbalized my concerns, I was also thinking, “It’s okay to verbalize concern, right?”  Whether or not it is concern over a situation or whether it is complaining, is the real question however.  The conviction within my spirit by the Holy Spirit told me that I shouldn’t have been talking to my friend about this.  Ever been there, Friend?  I needed to repent over complaining and then put it behind me and determine afresh not to complain about this situation, even to my good friend! In thinking about this though I saw as well that when we determine to keep each other accountable as friends and are not afraid to turn a conversation around when it’s going the wrong direction, we are doing our friends a greater favor than even the willingness to listen.  Better yet, stopping the conversation and praying over it and then moving on to other things can be a great response to those times.  Are you encouraging your friends, family & spouse (if applicable) through praying with and/or for their situations with them?  I know it’s a question I am asking myself, and attempting to implement to a greater degree.

Today, chapter 17 of the book of Proverbs is our chapter to read through in search of wisdom for our lives.  Verse 5 says, “Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.

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Judging With Fairness

July16Hello, Friend!  As I turn on my computer in the mornings, the news comes up on my screen and I typically quickly scroll through the headlines to see what has happened in the world over night.  It has become more and more noticeable however that the news service that I am checking only gives information on about three (if that many) actual news stories out of the 12 or more that are featured as headlines.  The rest of the headlines are focused on what certain sports teams are doing, or on what celebrity has had their teeth whitened or their hair cut or even what they looked like in junior high.  It has caused me to wonder if the American public would even know if a newsworthy event occurred anywhere in the world or not as our news services seem to mainly fuel the obsession there seems to be with knowing more and more about the rich and famous.  Why do they garner our attention so much?  Could it be because many of them were once just ordinary folk, like the rest of us?  We see the possibility of being in their shoes as attainable (albeit remotely)?  We mentally put ourselves in their shoes, thinking of what would we might do in their position?  Would we cut our hair, go out with this person or that one, buy this house or drive that car?  It is also interesting to me to think that the writer of the majority of the book of Proverbs was wealthy beyond what most of these celebrities can even imagine and was of worldwide renown, hosting visiting monarchs who had come to see his greatness and the greatness of his kingdom.  Yet, the wisdom that he imparts to us through this book is very down-to-earth and practical, full of integrity and character, and based on knowing, loving, and following what God values and what He rejects.

Proverbs, chapter 16 is the chapter that we are reading through today and verse 10 stands out as it says, “The king speaks with divine wisdom; he must never judge unfairly.”

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Hungering for Knowledge

July15Good Morning Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  There was a time in the past where we had been sending packages to one of our sons who was serving in the military oversees, and subsequently received an email from him regarding those packages.  When he was first deployed, he had asked that we send him some homemade cookies and treats that he wasn’t able to find where he’s at, but in his email he asked that we cut back on sending those things.  He let us know that although he’s been sharing them and his platoon had been happy to see him getting our packages for that reason, he felt that his self-control in that area was suffering and he would like to remove the temptation.  Part of the problem was caused by multiple relatives sending him packages so that he was faced with overwhelming temptation, not just the occasional temptation.  The other part of the problem was that he has always had a sweet tooth (wonder where he got that from???) and resisting sweets has been a weakness.  Isn’t this typical of the temptations we all face, Friend?  Sometimes they can be overwhelming and the sheer amount of exposure to a particular temptation can be a problem and yet at other times, it is our own weaknesses that make us vulnerable.  Are there areas where you need to remove yourself from temptation today?  From food, from certain people, from some types of conversation, from opportunities to spend too much money, even from situations where one can give in to certain emotions or thought processes?  I am sure you can think of others…

Today, we are reading through Proverbs, chapter 15 in search of that wisdom we need to live our lives well.

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” (Verse 14)

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The Foolishness Of A Short Temper

July14Good Morning Friend and Fellow Life Warrior!  “Striving for excellence motivates you.  Striving for perfection is demoralizing” is a quote recently seen and one which can definitely be identified with by this reader!  Not only can striving for perfection within oneself be demoralizing, but feeling like those around you constantly expect perfection of you can be so as well.  The problem is that for many, the difference between “excellence” and “perfection” can be a small and even negligible difference.  What one person may call “excellence”, another person will recognize as nit-picky perfectionism.  Having been on the receiving end of this expectation of perfectionism at times and then reading this quote and recognizing the truth of it this morning has caused me to examine my expectations of those I come into contact with today.  Will I treat others with a gratefulness for the things that they add to my life or will I look at the negatives and only see those things that “could be better”?  As in so many areas of life, it seems that the means to battle perfectionism and its negative effects are to continue to cultivate a perspective that focuses on the positive side of everything and everyone and also to cultivate the attitude of thankfulness for the good things seen in both myself and in others.

Chapter 14 of the book of Proverbs is our chapter to read through today.

Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.”  (verse 17)

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