A Proverb a day

I have been reading the Proverbs now for 20 years. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs and usually 31 days in a month. My practice for many years, continuing to this day is to read the Proverb twice. I read it out loud, look over it again, pick out three major truths and then meditate on those truths.

Proverbs are one line sermons or nuggets of truth that are full of practical wisdom for daily living. The word “proverb” is actually made up of two Latin words, ‘pro’ – instead of and ‘verba’ – words. So a proverb is a sentence that “instead of many words”, it summarizes or captures a truth that can be easily applied to our lives.

The key word found in Proverbs is wisdom. Proverbs is a guidebook to discovering practical wisdom or skillful living…living wisely and making good choices.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (outside of Jesus) tells us to seek wisom above everything else.

Wisdom Protects

Wisdom Perfects

Wisdom Directs

Proverbs deals with many different subjects but the overwhelming subject matter is about six key areas:

Your money – your morals – your mouth – your motives – your marriage and your mind set.

We all need help in these areas and we all need Godly wisdom in dealing with real life issues. Proverbs gives you that.

I encourage you to join me and start reading a Proverb a Day.

Bad News

Have you ever started a conversation off this way or ever heard someone else say, “I have good news and I have bad news…which one do you want first?”

To be honest, I don’t like bad news. Who does? Even if you get some good news, the bad news spoils it. We tend to focus on the negative, not the positive.
I have had my fair share of bad news. The feeling of disappointment or the lingering questions of “why” or “why now” causes you to second guess yourself.
Or perhaps you find yourself dwelling on the bad news so long that you end up in a bad mood. Wrong thinking always leads to negative emotions. Negative emotions are…well, they’re just negative! You are sad, angry, discouraged or even depressed. I hate that feeling of “funk” and not having any energy.
In my office on my desk, there sits a stone paper weight. I look at it everyday. A quote by Albert Einstein reads, “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” I am believing that today. I hope you will too.
No matter what bad news you have received, or will receive in the days to come, remember that God is working. Trust Him, lean into Him and rest in His good news. He has a plan. He always works everything out for our good.
Even the bad news!

I Struggle

Have you ever noticed that the closer an object gets to the light, the more clearly you can see that object (obvious, huh?)

The more that you are in the light, the more dirt that is exposed. The closer you get to Jesus, the more of yourself is seen and in my case, it is not pretty!

Here are my top three issues that I seem to have always struggled with. Yes, I struggle.

#1- Self Worth

I need people to admire me. I need people to respect me, to know how hard I work and that I am really somebody.

I need the admiration from others in order to feel good about myself and to feel like I have value. I struggle with this and I have since I was young. I am seeing more and more of this in me, but I also realize who I am in Christ.

I overwork and I know why I do. I need to be successful. It’s a constant struggle.

#2- Anger

I tend to get angry when I feel rejected or undervalued. (See #1) I get angry when someone makes me feel stupid, or states “that was stupid”, or when I do something that I feel is stupid.

I get angry when I feel like I am losing an argument or when the other person is not seeing it the way that I do.

I get angry when I feel that others do not care what I am passionate about. I have learned that anger says “you owe me, you took something from me”. I know the right answer, I just seem to get angry anyway.

#3- Worry

Do you want to know what I worry about the most? The fear that I am not going to be succesful; the church is not going to grow; no one is going to get saved; people will get mad and leave; I’m going to be average; I am never going to reach my God – given potential; I am going to be a failure.

I’m sure you are thinking, “Wow, you are really messed up!” I know! I struggle!

What about you?

 

Preparation…the Difference Maker

If you look at all the great athletes and business people in the world today, they all speak about preparation. You can have talent, charisma and natural ability but without preparation, you will never reach your full potential.

Everyone likes the spotlight and having their name in lights but few people take the time to work at getting truly prepared. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how witty you are or how skilled you are. If you don’t put the time and preparation into “it”, whatever “it” is for you will not be what it could have been.

I am not speaking of drive or even hard work; I am talking about the discipline it takes to really prepare.

Many people would rather make excuses then take the time to prepare. How many times have you heard or even spoken these words:
· We were robbed
· It wasn’t fair
· They were just better than we were
· It wasn’t a level playing field

Maybe we should change our vocabulary to:
· I wasn’t ready
· I didn’t pay the price
· I knew I needed more time
· What was I thinking

Boxing great Joe Frazier said, “If you don’t show up in the gym in the dark, it will show in the ring under the lights.”

What is it that you have been giving half the effort in your life?

What is it that you are just “winging”?

Preparation is the difference maker

 

God Working On the Inside

Nehemiah is one of my favorite people in the Bible, and my favorite book in Old Testament.

It’s not really a book of mighty miracles. Nehemiah didn’t see any ocean waters part down the middle, he didn’t experience God talking to him through a burning bush or calling fire down from heaven. He never healed anyone and no one was ever raised from the dead through him.

Nehemiah is an ordinary guy with an extraordinary vision for God to build some walls. You read that right…his vision was to build the walls that had been torn down.

Each chapter is an action packed Hollywood blockbuster adventure! The action in this story is amazing. Just a man with a heart for God and a heart for people. Nehemiah wanted to be faithful to finish the task that God gave him.

As we read the book of Nehemiah, we find him growing discouraged. The pressure was on from all sides. He was being attacked personally to the point that no building was taking place in chapter five. There was a stalemate taking place, no progress was being made…nothing on the outside was really happening.

That’s a tough place to be but remember that just because you don’t see God working on the outside doesn’t mean that He’s not working on the inside!

In chapter six, the people return to work, but so does the enemy! The critics come out once again. When you are attempting to do something for God, be prepared, you will always be attacked. People that you thought loved you and cared about you will turn against you. This will cause deep discouragement, insecurity, anxiety, frustration and even pain.

We see Nehemiah in chapter six doing what God called him to do – building the wall. The enemy rises up and tries to distract Nehemiah so the work of God will be hindered. He is accused of having wrong motives, playing politics and other things.

Nehemiah stood his ground and made the tough decisions. Those decisions are never easy, they are not popular and are usually misunderstood. Nehemiah’s goal was not to win a popularity contest but to please the Lord by staying on the wall and completing the task.

I love verse 3 of chapter 6 in Nehemiah where it says, “So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” He won’t come down off the wall! He CAN’T come down off the wall!

The enemy is persistent though. Verse 4 says, “But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.”

The enemy will not let up! Your task, your calling, your purpose is too important so don’t come down off the wall. No matter how crazy it gets, no matter how frustrated you become, no matter how many sleepless nights you have…don’t come down! Stay on that wall and fight with everything that you have and everything that you are.

Remember, you might not see any miracles happening on the outside, but I guarantee that one is taking place on the inside.

 

Learn from Failure

Every person’s life is filled with mistakes, errors and failures.

Failure isn’t the problem. We all fail. How we interpret failure is the problem. How you view failure will be one of the most important life altering practices you ever put in place.

Failures do not reflect your overall character, competence, intelligence or identity. You are going to fail…you are going to make some major blunders. I certainly have had my share of misjudgments, bad decisions and emotionally driven rationalizations.

Failure is a part of life…it’s a part of the learning process, so make the most of your next failure! Learn from it! The key is learning from our mistakes.

There is a major difference in “I failed” and “I’m a failure.” If you are not careful, you will wallow in past failures and never recover. You can allow what happened to you a year ago, five years ago, even 20 years ago affect the way you live right now. You must move on!

I had the wonderful opportunity last year to speak at Liberty university and share about failure.Check it out here…..http://youtu.be/k4ArUvduM8M

 

 

More Desperate To Hear Than To Tell

When is the last time you told someone how to be saved?

When is the last time you shared your testimony?

When was the last time you intentionally sought out someone and told them how they could miss hell and make heaven?

The church is the hope of the world and we must be passionate about telling the good news. The church is not a social club where you come to meet people and make business connections. The church is not a religious group that does good deeds for people to make themselves feel better. The church is a hospital for sinners.

People are sick with a disease called ‘sin’ and the church has the answer. Our mission is to reconnect humans to God! Our vision is: “We exist so people far from God may experience life in Christ and become fully engaged followers.”

We have been given marching orders. Matthew 28: 18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice the word “go”? It is an action word. It is aggressive, not passive. God has called us to Go!

Every poll and every survey says that Americans are more interested in spiritual things now more than ever before. Not less but MORE!

We must be about sharing the gospel. Tell your story, share your faith, give out the gospel. People are more desperate to hear than we are to tell!

Ideal Family

Yesterday we started a new series at our Hiram campus on the family…”Ideal Family – How to Make Your Relationships Roar!”

For many, the word “family” is associated with stress or tension. Unfortunately, a great deal of drama often comes with family. Maybe words like aggravation or disappointment are words that come to mind.

Hopefully, words like blessed, happy, or fulfilled better describe your current family dynamic.

All of us at times could appear on the Jerry Springer show. Dysfunctional describes too many of our families. But…the bottom line is that your family is the one that God put you in. With all the problems, heartaches and heartbreaks, it is YOUR family!

Let me encourage you today to go make things right if they are wrong. Do not allow anything to hinder or hurt your relationship with your family. If you need to forgive, then do so. Whatever it is, let it go. It really isn’t worth it.

When all is said and done, when the end of your life comes, the only thing that will really matter is relationships. Your relationships with your family are worth fighting for.

We all want better families.Tune in over the next few weeks and see how we can have Ideal Families.

Rest Was God’s Idea

We all lead fast paced, time urgent, stress filled lives. From the time that we open our eyes in the morning until we go to sleep at night, we are either in a hurry or in a fog because we can’t keep up.

We are on the phone, on line or on edge! It gets a little overwhelming at times. We are stressed out at home and stressed at work. We are trying to manage work and family responsibilities along with the hundreds of other “little” things that we all have to take care of.

Life can be a little overwhelming at times.
We are all facing similar things but we are also all on a unique journey. No two stories are the same but we can all identify with being at the end of the rope.

Let me give you five things that you need to do today to relieve the stress in your life.

1 – Take a nap or get a good night’s sleep.
Probably not what you were expecting, but very needed and true. You would be surprised how a nap or a good night’s sleep would change things.

2 – Take the Sabbath
I know this is a crazy concept and you wonder who would suggest such a thing. God did!

God instituted the Sabbath…He created human beings with a need for a day of rest. God rested, not because He needed to rest, but because we do. He knew we would live crazy, busy lives so He set a day in place for us to refocus, restore and re energize.Rest was Gods idea!

Don’t refuse the gift of rest!

3 – Take a vacation
I know many people can’t afford to take a vacation. You may be at the place in your life where you can’t afford not to. Maybe you could just stay home, swim in the neighborhood pool, relax and rest.

4 – Take time alone with God
We all must slow down long enough to be with our Father. Jesus did! Jesus made it a priority to get quiet and get alone with His father. You must do the same. Don’t get so busy that you don’t spend time with Jesus.

5 – Take time for yourself
It’s okay to take time for you. Go do something just for you. Go do something that you like. Make an investment in yourself. You have been burning the midnight oil, working to provide, living for others. Take time for YOU!

 

Miracle Drug

I must confess that I get a bad attitude occasionally. I get in one of “those” moods and my vision gets impaired. Everything I see is bad. I find fault in people and projects. I need an attitude adjustment.

What percentage of your day from this past week was consumed by a negative attitude versus a positive, proactive and optimistic attitude? Take a minute right now and reflect on that question. Go ahead, close your eyes, shut yourself off to the world and really ponder over that question and your answer.

Is your attitude positive enough? Or are you consumed with negativity? Do you focus on the abundance of blessings God has given you? Such as air, water, food, your health, your family, etc… or are you choosing to focus on that which you feel you are missing? Do you have a long list of things that you want or feel you deserve?

I love the quote by Patricia Neal, “A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug!” Isn’t that true? Just the power of a positive attitude will do wonders.

Let me encourage you today to take this drug!