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, September 25, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 7

Today we will look at Principle #15 from Proverbs 23:19-21. It says,
Oh listen, dear child—become wise;
    point your life in the right direction.
Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk;
    don’t eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
    in a stupor and dressed in rags.”
There are several of the thirty sterling principles that talk about the dangers of over indulging in drinking and eating, but this one starts with a warning to the listener: “become wise and point your life in the right direction.” This is in direct contrast to the alternate way of living highlighted in this passage. There’s a contrast between drinking and eating too much and ending up in dire straits (on skid row in a stupor and dressed in rags) and living a life in the right direction avoiding those things.
This passage was a good reminder to me and a challenge to me. Whereas the drinking has not been a major attraction in my life for over 15 years now, eating too much is still a present danger. I thought it was interesting that both forms of overindulging lead to the same desperate situation. I know the hazards of drinking to excess. I’ve been there and I’ve fallen into an emotional skid row many times as a result of the excess drinking. I don’t want to return to that place. So I choose to not pick up the first drink today, the drink that, in my situation always leads to many more.
However, eating is another issue all together. Yet when I think of the despair I feel when I overeat (or under eat) I recognize that food has the potential for driving me to an emotional skid row, too. The problem with food is that we need some. We can’t cut it all out of our diet like we can the alcohol. So a balance is needed. I’m not very good at finding that balance in my life – in any area. I tend to overeat one day and under eat the next to “make up for it.” What I need is balance, moderation, every day. I haven’t quite figured out how to achieve such balance in my life. But, I am working on it. I do know that I don’t want to end up in a spiritual or emotional stupor. That requires some effort from me to eat in moderation.
There are several ways I can achieve moderation. One way is to be accountable to myself, to God, and to another person (actually an AA principle based on Step #5). So today I choose to record my food intake and report it to a friend. That is something I can do each day and I need to be faithful to do it. Today starts a new round of accountability in my life.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 6

Proverbs 23:17-18 give us the 14th sterling principle. I liked the way The Message put it, but I also liked the way The Amplified Bible said it. Both are quoted below for you:
The Message: “Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God – That’s where your future lies. Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.”
The Amplified: “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.”
I especially like the idea of “soaking” in the Fear-of-God. What does that look like? I wondered about that for quite a while until I decided to look up the verses in different versions of the Bible. That’s when I found The Amplified versions explanation: soaking in the Fear-of-God is continuing in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all day long. Exactly how one does that is as individual a thing as there are people. For me, it means keeping an attitude of thankfulness in mind as I go about my day.
I’ve been doing a study on the Grace of God. One of the key things I’ve learned in this study is that it’s God’s grace that saved me and it’s God’s grace that allows me to live life now. Everything is by God’s grace. The Holy Spirit’s working in me on a day by day basis is part of the grace of God. Living my life, aware of God’s grace in everything I do and say is part of soaking in the Fear-of-God. It’s being in awe of Him and what He’s done for me and is doing for me each day.
I need a lot of help to soak in the Fear-of-God. It’s not something that comes naturally to me (or to anybody). I have to work at it. I have to involve myself in regular prayer and thanksgiving. I have to seek knowledge from God’s Word. I have to be open to the wise counsel from others. And I have to be willing to submit humbly to God’s instructions in my life. Sometimes I’m more willing than other times to involve myself in those four areas. If I want to follow this principle from Proverbs, I have to avail myself of as much of God as I can each and every day. I have to soak in the Fear-of-God.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 5

Today I will look at Principle #13 from Proverbs 23:15-16. The passage says,
“Dear child, if you become wise I’ll be one happy parent. My heart will dance and sing to the tuneful truth you speak.”
I like this principle because it reminds me to be joyful over the success of my children. Both my son and my first daughter have become wise in many ways. They are kind and considerate of others. They are generous in spirit and in action. They are successful in their endeavors (my son was successful in school and now is on his job, and my daughter is doing well in college and performs her various jobs with excellence). This principle is true in my experience. My children have become wise in many ways and I am one happy parent.
However, there are areas where I still pray for my children (all three of them). I pray they would become wise in the ways of God and desire to serve Him. I pray they will be honest and upright in their dealings with other people. I pray they long for true wisdom and truth that only comes from knowing God the Father through Jesus Christ. I pray they would live lives that are pleasing to God and full of truth. I long to dance and sing to the tuneful truths they speak because they are speaking God’s truths.
So while I am truly thankful for the good in my kids, I’m also keenly aware of their shortcomings and pray for them on a daily basis. I think many of us have children we are proud of. However, there are still many things I pray for my children. Mostly I pray they will have discernment, understanding, and revelation pertaining to the things of God and His Word. If they learn to live their lives according to the ways of God, I will truly be dancing and singing for joy. At this stage of the game, especially with my two older children, sometimes all I can do is pray. My goal is to be faithful in praying for them on a regular, daily would be good, basis.
It’s never too late to pray for our children.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 4

Principles #8, #9, and #10 are the subject of today’s article. Principle #8 is found in Proverbs 23:6-8 and says,
“Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special. He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself; he’ll say, ‘Eat! Drink!’ but won’t mean a word of it. His miserly serving will turn your stomach when you realize the meal’s a sham.”
The underlying message here is that the miserly will grudgingly give you a meal and you will leave the meal feeling like you have taken something that wasn’t freely offered. This passage challenged me to not be a tightwad; to offer a meal or my resources willingly and not grudgingly. In general I think I do a pretty good job of that, but there are times when I question my spending. There’s a line between being a tightwad and being responsible with the resources God has given me. I need to evaluate each expenditure and figure out if I’m giving grudgingly or meeting a true need.
Principle #9 is found in Proverbs 23:9 which says,
“Don’t bother talking sense to fools; they’ll only poke fun at your words.”
Sometimes, when dealing with young people, you have to talk sense to them whether they are being foolish or not. They might poke fun at your words, but we have to attempt to talk sense to them. I find myself praying for the “fools” in my life; that they would not dismiss wisdom when they hear it, but take it in and apply it to their lives. Sometimes it means being patient and withstanding angry or illogical rebuttals from the fools. 
However, there are fools in my life that are adults and have developed a life long habit of poking fun at the sense talked to them. I think this verse is saying that we shouldn’t try to argue with them or discuss with them because they will not listen and it will be wasted effort. Such wasted effort will just bring unnecessary frustration into our lives.
Finally, for today, Principle #10 is in Proverbs 23:10-11:
“Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines or cheat orphans out of their property. For they have a powerful Advocate who will go to bat for them.”
This principle is a similar warning to Principle #4, which also speaks to moving the boundary lines. As I thought more about this, I realized that some of the boundary lines I move on the unsuspecting have to do with my standards for others’ behaviors. If I make a rule and don’t follow through on enforcing the rule or change the rule without clear notification I’m stealthily moving the boundary line. I have done that when making rules for my kids to follow. I have failed both to hold them to the standard I set and to changing the standard without telling them about it. That is not fair to them and I need to work on it, trying to be more consistent and fair in my rule setting and enforcing. I also need to make sure I’m not setting a boundary line where I can’t enforce it.