Is Pondering Self-serving?

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer.  Proverbs 15:28

Someone who is shy is very hard to get to know.  It takes a long time for them to feel safe in a relationship. They move slowly toward others and intimacy is not quickly achieved. Many hurt deeply from the wounds of past relationships and, as a result, pull inward to prevent more pain. They are hard to read, safely veiled behind a stoic exterior. They rarely express how they feel about an issue for fear of rejection.  Pondering before answering is a way of life but this is not what Solomon describes.  The fearful person does not ponder for the sake of righteousness.  Considering his words carefully is self-protective and has little to do with God.

Someone who is manipulative is also careful with his words.  He ponders before opening his mouth in order to successfully posture himself for an advantage. He endeavors not to be genuine, but to say whatever will benefit him. Most every conversation is self-promoting.  He is ambitious, even to the point of ruthless. Beware. His speech is like butter and the flattery he offers, while it feels wonderful, is calculated and well rehearsed. Manipulative pondering is also not what Solomon describes.

A righteous person ponders before he speaks so that God will be glorified.  He knows that if he expresses himself indiscriminately, his words will be soul-ish, even foolish.  He understands the power of the tongue and, by God’s grace, exercises the discipline of restraint.  He is neither self-protective nor self-promoting.  His passion is to think like Jesus and, therefore, talk like Jesus. The wisdom that flows out of the heart of the righteous child of God is cultivated in secret. It is the result of many hours spent at the Rabbi’s feet.

Search me at the place of my motives.  Let my pondering be a holy thing, not self-promoting or self-protecting. Show me how to think like You as You write Your Word in my heart.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

I Should Second-Guess Myself

I SHOULD SECOND-GUESS MYSELF

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.  Proverbs 14:12

            A twenty-four hour day is filled with dozens of decisions; some minor, some major.  Most decisions won’t appear to present a challenge.  I will think I know the right thing to do.  I will argue that it’s pretty obvious.

            But, what if my own common sense is leading me astray?  Scripture says it will and I might take the wrong course of action completely unaware.  My ‘take’ on things, though it seems so right, can be flawed and lead me to unpleasant outcomes.

            I face ministry decisions daily that could be made by the laws of marketing.  I tried that on and off for twenty-two years and the success left me void of spiritual confidence and void of a God-connection. In 1997, I made a vow unto God to never do ministry like that again. The difference has been huge.

            Jesus, who was perfect, didn’t move without praying to discern the will of His Father.  If He didn’t do it, how can I pretend to think I can!  He didn’t heal everyone who needed it.  He didn’t go everywhere He was invited. He didn’t spontaneously announce, “I think I’ll go to Capernaum today.”  Everything was guided by a Father’s agenda who saw how all things fit together.

  • Someone today will seek a promotion.  They will assume they need to advocate for themselves or risk getting lost in the lineup.  God may tell them to do nothing and trust Him.  That course will feel disastrous to their flesh and they will need to flex new faith muscles.
  • Some will have grounds to discipline their children.  Without guidance, they will assume they know the right measure of severity.  God may say, “Probe, listen, understand. The root of their disobedience is not what you think.”
  • Someone will be wronged in a close relationship and it will feel like the last straw.  Their first instinct might be to deliver that speech they’ve been saving for just such an occasion.  God may say, “It’s not time to talk.  It’s time to fast for their turnaround and your perseverance.”

Continue reading “I Should Second-Guess Myself”

Why Anger Explodes

WHEN ANGER EXPLODES

A quick tempered man acts foolishly.  Proverbs 14:17

            Take a glass that is mostly full of water, add a little more, and it will spill over.  Take a man or woman who is already full of rage, add one small incident, and their anger will also overflow.  Many who erupt today over the smallest issues aren’t really reacting to the incidents at hand.  They were simply filled to the brim with rage before the episode ever occurred.  The ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ got all the attention because there was no more room left in their container for any more anger.

            Each of us was created with a lot of elasticity in our spirit to withstand the pressures of life.  Many have plenty of stretch left in their elastic in their early twenties but by the time they experience multiple injustices and disappointments, that elastic is stretched to the limit when they reach mid-life.  With no more ‘give’, it’s pulled taut and it snaps easily.

            What is the answer for any angry person?  He must discern what it is he’s really angry about and take the initiative to deal with it.  Living in perpetual rage is not fair to friends and family.  Children live with an angry parent and never know when the lid is going to blow.  It is usually over a gallon of milk left out on the counter or something else equally as insignificant.  Husbands live with an angry wife and tiptoe around the house, not knowing what it will be that will set her off.  The angry one usually holds everyone around him hostage. Continue reading “Why Anger Explodes”

Am I Lazy and What Is The Cost?

AM I LAZY AND WHAT IS THE COST?

The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns.  Proverbs 15:19

Life happens to the lazy man as opposed to being shaped by him.  He will see challenges come but, because of his slothfulness, he will not massage each one with prayer and problem solving.  He will sit and let his problems slowly overwhelm him.  One challenge is then joined by another, and sooner or later, he is beset by a hedge of thorns too numerous to tackle.  At this point, he usually throws up his hands in defeat.  Inevitably, he lives overwhelmed and with a sense of futility.  He will often give a martyr’s speech.  “I just can’t win! Nothing good ever happens to me.”

The way out of such a mindset is a heart change.  Laziness is a spiritual problem, not a mere character flaw.  The one who is lazy fails to answer Christ’s call to discipleship.  A follower of Jesus redeems the time for he knows the days are evil.  Each moment wasted is time and opportunity lost.  Never do we read that Jesus was prompted by His Father, only to respond, “I don’t feel like doing that today.”  Not that He never rested.  He did.  Not that He was never led into solitude for restoration.  He was.  The point is that rest is for those who work.  Restoration is for those who are poured out for others.  Rest is for those who are weary in obedience. Continue reading “Am I Lazy and What Is The Cost?”

When a Friend of God Speaks

WHEN A FRIEND OF GOD SPEAKS

Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.  Proverbs 12:25

            I’m not a stranger to pain. I’ve lived long enough to recognize the foreboding fronts on the horizon that often heads my way.  I’ve felt the change in the atmosphere and remember bracing myself for what I knew was coming.   Since I have survived similar storms before, it’s somewhat comforting. At least I’ve gained a little experience that will help me navigate the next one.

            Regardless, the anxiety you and I experience when our world stops is profound.  These moments will come to each of us. Like those who attended the soccer match in Paris, or those who casually had dinner at a sidewalk cafe, we can’t conceive that our world is about to change. When it happens to me, I wonder if I’ll ever breathe easily again.  There’s a new edginess in my gut and I know I need to cultivate a deeper relationship with God in order to survive it.  I look inside for Jesus, my Anchor, and know I must hold on tightly.

            What can make the greatest impact are the reassuring words of others who are connected to God and close to me.  When I have reached out to selectively share my burdens with them, the other person’s response made the difference between drowning and pressing on.  What they passed on to me was what I needed most.  FAITH.

  • “Christine, God is not stunned by this nor has He forgotten you!”
  • “Let me lend you my faith right now. I know yours is weak.”
  • “I don’t know how God will redeem this, but I’m waiting to see it with you.”  

            Continue reading “When a Friend of God Speaks”

It’s Called Redemption

IT’S CALLED REDEMPTION

The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.  Proverbs 13:22

            Look at Solomon’s words. Do you believe this outrageous claim?  Could it be true that when others deprive you of what is rightfully yours and hoard it for themselves, that God wants to repay it to you another way?  Could it be true that the losses you experience, even when inflicted by those in a position to intentionally hurt you, will be restored down the road?  God says that the answer is yes.  It’s called redemption.  Take Romans 8:28, erase the damage done by those who have recited it to us as platitudes, and consider this golden promise again.  “God makes all things work together for good who are called according to His purpose.”

            Live long enough and you will experience pain. For many, their innocence is shattered in childhood. For others, it is fractured in marriage when the one they believe loves them like no other discards them without much thought. Add to these losses the death of parents and children, the disintegration of dreams, the erosion of financial security, and we can end up believing that our best years have already been lived. We begin to mark time to just make it until glory.

            Once, while in the pit of disillusionment, God spoke to me about new beginnings and His power to redeem ashes.  I was to grieve the losses, trust Him to be my Redeemer, and stand in the promises until I could see them come true.  Some, I’ve already experienced and I’ve been astounded how God can mastermind a fresh start when I can’t begin to envision it. But, I am still waiting for redemption regarding other losses. God may choose to redeem them here on earth but just as often, redemption happens in eternity.  No matter, it’s promised, it’s coming, and it’s a sure thing.   Continue reading “It’s Called Redemption”

How Others Feel In My Space

HOW OTHERS FEEL IN MY SPACE

Much wealth is in the house of the righteous.  Proverbs 15:6

            The wealth Solomon is referring to has nothing to do with net worth.  He speaks of an abundance that can be felt in one’s spirit. How do others feel when they’re in my space, whether home, office, car, or Sunday School room?

            Have you ever driven by a certain house and felt that something is wrong?  The house felt dead, even dark.  Sadness, trauma, anger, and perversion all left their mark on a property.  I have stayed in many homes where there has been a lot of arguing.  I could tell just walking in the door that the spirit of anger had a foothold.  Tension knotted my stomach just minutes after arriving. I have also been the guest in homes where depression ruled.  I felt my energy decline the longer I was under their roof.

            God’s children are not to be held captive to sin, nor a prisoner to the things of darkness that seek to rule all men.  We are to know how to get free from such chains to walk in freedom and joy.  The effects of that on our home, whether we live in a palace or a small room in a nursing facility, are simply profound.

            Some years ago, I had the chance to visit a certain woman’s house for the first time.  It was the home of Elizabeth Guthrie, my dear friend and co-laborer in this ministry. It was Christmastime and I was invited for lunch along with two other friends.  I didn’t know Elizabeth well back then so when she answered the door and I took a step inside, I felt I had stepped into such a peaceful space that it literally took my breath away.  It was obvious that someone firmly connected to God lived there.  A holy calm marked her territory and it spoke volumes to me about her private world. While I conversed over lunch about other topics, I never stop pondering the feelings of being in her space. Continue reading “How Others Feel In My Space”