What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Disciplined Life

Proverbs 10:17 in The Message says, “The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.” I’ve talked before about what a disciplined life looks like, but the aspect of listening to correction is a new twist on it for me. This verse links together a disciplined life with the idea that an undisciplined life ignores correction. So accepting correction is part of what a disciplined life is all about.
As I read further in Proverbs I came to Proverbs 11: 14, which says, “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Having good direction I think comes from taking correction from wise counsel. It’s not just getting wise counsel that makes the difference. A lot of us seek counsel and often find wise counsel. What makes the difference in our lives is following the wise counsel’s suggestions.
I asked myself, after reading Proverbs 10:17, where does my correction come from? I no longer have teachers or parents in my life that are the obvious sources for correction. I had to think about that for a while. But I was able to come up with several sources of wise counsel in my life. One such source is trusted friends. I have a couple of those that I communicate with on an almost daily basis. I share what’s going on in my life and they offer suggestions and constructive criticism.
I also have some professional people in my life that offer wise counsel and offer corrections to the ways I’m doing things and thinking about things. It’s their jobs to offer wise counsel in the areas of their expertise. For instance, one of these professionals is a nurse practitioner who specializes in diabetes management. I see her once every three months. She offers sound advice for ways to manage my diabetes including advice on diet, insulin dosing, and exercise. I would do good, and have a better quality of life, if I followed her wise counsel a little better.
A final source of wise counsel comes from God’s Word. Just like these passages in Proverbs, Scripture is filled with nuggets of wisdom and directions for my life. There’s enough in the pages of my Bible to keep me reading it and to keep me with a list of things I can do to make my life better and more useful to God. Now to just obey the Scripture I read and implement the concepts into my life. There’s a long way to go in doing that.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are You Confused About Life?

This is the question of the day. Are you confused about life? In The Message, in Proverbs 9, two very different personas ask this same question.
First Lady Wisdom calls the question out. In verse 3 – 4 it says,
“Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
    and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
‘Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
    Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!’”
Lady Wisdom seeks out all who will listen to her. In verse 6 it tells us what she has to offer those who listen to her voice and pays attention to her:
“’Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
    Walk up the street to a life with meaning.’”
Meaning. Purpose. A reason to live. A life with meaning. That’s what Lady Wisdom has to offer those who listen to her. She promises a reason to live.
Also found in Proverbs 9 is Madame Whore calling out the same question [verses 14 – 16]:
She sits on the front porch
    of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding
    their own business, calls out,
‘Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
    Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!’”
She asks the same question but from a position of lying in wait for the unsuspecting passerby. And what does she have to offer the person who listens to Madame Whore? A good time. Probably a short-lived good time. Passing pleasure. No long term meaning for living that Lady Wisdom has to offer.
So the same question is asked by Good and Evil. The results are drastically different. One offers a purpose-filled life and the other offers temporary pleasure. What do I really want? I want a meaningful, purposeful life. I’ll get that by listening to Lady Wisdom.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Way to Wealth

I want to be rich. Doesn’t everybody? The questions for me are what’s the best way to get wealth and what would that wealth look like once I got it?
Today I read in Proverbs 8 about this very topic. Basically it said to get wealthy one must pursue Wisdom. In Proverbs 8, Wisdom is speaking to us. Wisdom says, “Wealth and Glory accompany me – also substantial Honor and a Good Name.” [verse 18, The Message] Of course, I asked the question, what kind of wealth is this talking about? In the New American Standard Bible it says verse 18 this way: “Riches and honor are with me; Enduring wealth and righteousness.” That tells me it’s talking about monetary wealth or a wealth of possessions, riches.
In Joshua 1:8 it tells us where Wisdom is found and what the results are of following after such Wisdom. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” [NIV] Wisdom is found in God’s Word, and acting and living in a way that is aligned with Scripture leads to a prosperous and successful life.
But there’s more to life than financial wealth. I think some of the other forms of wealth are mentioned in Proverbs 8:18. Having substantial Honor and a Good Name are other forms of wealth. These are things you can’t lose in the stock market or in a business deal. We get these things, honor and a good reputation, from doing things wisely. We know how to do the wise things by pursuing God’s Wisdom. That leads us back to doing things according to God’s Word.
The only way we can learn to do things according to God’s Word is by reading it and trying to follow what it says to do. So the way to true wealth, monetary or otherwise, is to be reading and applying God’s Word.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Being Positive Through Prayer

There are some circumstances going on in my life right now that are somewhat troubling. However, it’s important for me to remain positive in the midst of these troubling circumstances. So how do I do that? I pray. A lot.
Prayer is probably the skill I use the most when I encounter negative or unhappy circumstances. Often it comes welling up from a frustration that says, “I don’t know what else to do!” I often – most of the time – don’t understand what God is doing in my life, so I pray He shows me. Yet I know that God knows what’s going on and He is able to work regardless of whether I understand what’s going on or not.
So prayer leads me into trusting Him to be at work and into trusting Him to work things out according to His plan. I so want to know what His plan is before it happens, but God doesn’t work that way. He often only shows me just what I need to do to get to the next moment in my life. So prayer leads me to trusting Him. It often sounds like, “God, I don’t understand what You are doing, but I know You are at work. Show me what I’m suppose to do next and give me the strength, energy, wisdom, and understanding to do whatever it is You have for me.”
This week I am praying a lot about a friend in great need. I don’t have any control over what happens in her life, but God does. So I pray that God will work in mighty ways that we will all be able to look back upon and marvel at His wonderful working. There is much that frustrates me in this situation. However, when I turn to God in prayer, I gain a little more assurance that He will work in this (and every) situation in my life. Many of my worries become issues where I can trust God to work once I’ve turned the situations over to God through prayer. Once it’s in His hands, I can trust that His best will win out.
So today, I pray. I pray to get on my heart what’s on God’s heart. I pray to gain peace knowing the situation is in God’s hands. I pray because there’s nothing else (or nothing better) I can do in any situation in my life.