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, October 30, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 12

Principle #21 addresses having wisdom over strength. From reading Proverbs 24:5-6 it seems like both wisdom and strength are important, but that wisdom and strategy ultimately are more important for winning a battle. The verses read as follows:
“It’s better to be wise than strong;
            intelligence outranks muscle any day.
Strategic planning is the key to warfare;
            To win, you need a lot of good counsel.”
In my life, I see that being wise is a great asset. For one thing, I am not physically strong so relying on my physical strength to survive each day and each obstacle would probably not end well. When I’m asked to list my assets or strengths as a person, intelligence is one of the first things I think of.
I’m not bragging about my intelligence. It’s a God-given asset, something God granted to me upon His forming me in my mother’s womb. It is something for which I am thankful. It has seen me through a lot of nerve-wracking situations from schooling to parenting. My intelligence has allowed me to think through situations and come to rational conclusions about how to proceed in various situations that have come up in my life.
I think part of my intelligence has been to seek wiser counsel. I recognize that there are many circumstances that I’ve been confronted with where I just don’t know how to proceed. Seeking the good counsel of others has allowed me to overcome some very tricky situations in my life. Some of those situations are currently going on in my life and my husband and I have sought the counsel of others to give us sound advice on how to proceed.
Intelligence and wisdom need to be cultivated in our lives. Even being born with a certain amount of intelligence doesn’t mean we will learn to use it to the best of its advantage. We need to seek it and pray about situations, and trust in God’s Word to give us direction. I know many intelligent people who think they know everything they need to know. By not being open to cultivating their intelligence, they make some bad decisions. I want to avoid being like those people, so I make sure to spend time in God’s Word, examining the principles in Scripture, and trying to apply them to my life.
Having intelligence is not enough. Applying God’s principles to our lives is exercising true intelligence. I think we need to humbly turn to God and ask Him to give us the wisdom we need in every situation. Prayerfully approaching God and His Word is one way of using the intelligence He has given us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 11

Today’s principle, #20, spoke to me about what it means to have a healthy, happy, stable home. It’s based on Proverbs 24:3-4, which says,
“It takes wisdom to build a house,
    and understanding to set it on a firm foundation;
It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms
    with fine furniture and beautiful draperies.”
The key elements are wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Those are the same things that God told us about for living successful lives. Those are the same things that we are told elsewhere in Proverbs come about because we focus on God and His Word and ways.
I have tried to live a wise life, one filled with understanding and knowledge. In some ways I succeeded and have adult children who are independent, self-reliant, and successful in their endeavors. I’ve talked about them before. However, there is always room for improvement.
I can’t depend on the wisdom I’ve had in the past. I have to keep trying to learn and seek God’s wisdom in my daily life. I strive to use understanding in my dealings with the people who live in my house although sometimes I just don’t understand what is going on and don’t know how to gain the understanding needed in some situations. Sometimes all I can do is throw up my hands, fall to my knees and pray that God would show me what to do. Even when I’m thinking I’m doing or saying the right things, I sometimes find out that I am not.
Again, there are many situations that come up where I just have to rely on God’s grace and His protection to furnish my house with the right furniture and furnishings. In other words, to make my house the right environment and atmosphere for raising healthy children and maintaining my own sanity I need to turn to God and ask Him for His guidance. I wish I could say I do this with knowledge and wisdom. However, many times I have to backtrack and change the way I’m doing things so they get in line with God’s ways of doing things. Ultimately, all true wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are centered on God’s ways of doing things. I just don’t know what the right ways are all the time. So I have to ask for forgiveness from God and other people, and change my approach to do things the right way the next time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 10

Today’s passage of Scripture brings up the question, “How do we know if someone is a bad person?” The passage, Proverbs 24:1-2, Principle #19 tells us:
“Don’t envy bad people;
            don’t even want to be around them.
All they think about is causing a disturbance;
            All they talk about is making trouble.”
I guess one way of telling if someone is a bad person or not is to evaluate their actions and words. Do they try to cause a disturbance or are they always talking about making trouble for others and themselves?
I know some people like that. This passage tells me not to envy them or want to be around them. Sometimes that’s harder to do than it seems like it would be. No matter how hard I try to avoid people who try to cause disturbances or make trouble, sometimes those people end up being a part of my life anyway.
Elsewhere in Proverbs it talks about fools and avoiding them. Are fools bad people? I think that sometimes they are, but other times they are just misguided and confused people who need direction. Unfortunately, sometimes a fool doesn’t take the advice given to them and, as a result, makes a poor decision. That poor decision might have an effect on me or on those I love. Their actions and/or words might cause a disturbance or trouble for others. So sometimes it’s hard to determine if a person is just a fool (who should be dealt with carefully) or a bad person (who should be avoided).
Sometimes it’s hard not to envy bad people. For instance, sometimes they seem to have all the comforts of life while I struggle to get through each day. However, I have a walk with God that can’t be taken away from me and that’s worth everything that a bad person might have. Most of the time, I’m content with what God has given me, so envying others, whether good or bad people, doesn’t come into play.
Today I want to focus on God and trusting Him to show me those “bad people” that should be avoided and the fools that should be handled with care. I can’t always tell the difference between them, but through the Holy Spirit’s working in my heart I may know how to deal with each person as the need arises.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 9

Who are the people who are always crying the blues?
    Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all?
    Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot?
It’s those who spend the night with a bottle,
    for whom drinking is serious business.
Don’t judge wine by its label,
    or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor.
Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—
    the splitting headache, the queasy stomach.
Do you really prefer seeing double,
    with your speech all slurred,
Reeling and seasick,
    drunk as a sailor?
“They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt;
    they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing.
When I’m sober enough to manage it,
    bring me another drink!” Proverbs 23:29-35, Principle 19
This principle spoke to me due to my struggles with alcohol. I especially like the reminders of what it’s like to be under the influence of alcohol. When I was drinking I was “always crying the blues” and reeked “of self-pity.” My eyes were bleary and bloodshot as was my mind. This passage reminds me that the result of a day of heavy drinking is a hangover, a splitting headache and a queasy stomach.
It’s been several 24 hours since I took my last drink and it’s easy to forget the effects alcohol had on my life. This passage brings all the distress and trouble back to the forefront and I’m reminded why I do not choose to drink. For me it was not a matter of having one drink and enjoying the taste. One drink always led to getting drunk. Scripture clearly says we should not get drunk with wine for that is a waste of time and energy (Ephesians 5:18). This passage gives a bunch of other good reasons for not getting drunk.
I remember seeing double and having my speech slurred. I remember reeling and being seasick. I remember waking up with bruises and having no idea where they came from. I remember when all I could think about was my next drink. After 15 years of sobriety, I need the reminders this passage of Scripture brings me because I have a built-in forgetter that makes remembering the effects and problems alcohol brought to me difficult on my own.
I’m always amazed at Scripture and how it addresses each of my needs. This is one passage that I can turn to when I start to think that a drink sounds good (which still happens from time to time). I don’t have to try and remember what drinking (and getting drunk) was like. It’s laid out for me in clear terms. Life was miserable when I was drinking. Life still has its struggles, but at least I don’t have to deal with the effects of being drunk on top of everything.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 8

“Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
            and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her.
Buy truth – don’t sell it for love or money;
            buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
            Wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
            Make your mother proud!” Proverbs 23:22-25, Principle #16

This principle has several parts to it. The overall theme has to do with children listening to their parents and as a result, making the parents proud and happy. There is some instruction hidden in the middle of the passage: Buy truth . . . by wisdom, buy education, buy insight. These are instructions to children but I think they apply to all of us.
As I look back on my life, I wonder if I made my parents proud and happy. I can’t ask them any more since they are passed away, so it leaves me wondering. I think that in general they were proud of the choices I’ve made and proud of how I live my life. I remember a few things my parents said to me that lead me to believe they were proud of me. I think they were proud of my desires to live a truthful life. I’m pretty sure they were proud of my educational accomplishments. After all they did come to my graduation ceremonies: high school, undergraduate, and graduate school. I think they saw me using my resources to buy wisdom, education and insight.
I know that I am proud of my older two children for they continue to choose truth, wisdom, education, and insight as they go about their adult lives. I’m proud of my youngest daughter as she struggles to figure out what is truth in her life and tries to apply herself to her studies. In many ways my children make me a happy mother.
This passage, because of its focus on what children should do, caused me to pray for my children. I prayed they would seek truth, wisdom, education, and insight in their lives and desire to become proud parents themselves when the time comes. I prayed they would eventually have kids of their own that turn out well. I prayed they would be wise children who become proud parents. I am trusting God to work in my children making them into the kind of wise adults that will produce wise grandchildren for me. I am praying this on a daily basis this week.