Just 'fess Up

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Whenever I read this proverb, I think of baseball pitching legends, Roger Clemens and Andy Petitte. Both men were accused of using Human Growth hormones (HGH) during their time as Major League players. Petitte confessed that it was true and though his name was sullied just a bit he continued on without much fanfare. Meanwhile, Clemens denied it and ended up going to trial on perjury charges which lasted 10 weeks. In the end he was found not guilty but there is still a cloud around his name and the supposed use of the HGH. Regardless of whether or not Clemens used HGH, I see the value of just confessing my transgressions and deal with the fallout. I have learned that owning up to it is better than deflecting or denying.

Moving a River

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In the Bible, the king represents the authority in your life. In this proverb, the writer is saying that God controls the heart of your authority and He does it in the same way He turns a river. A river is turned through time and pressure.

Often, I will say, “God, give me the time and I will put on the pressure.” But usually His response back is, “You give Me the time and I will put on the pressure.” This is always the wiser course.

Manure Happens

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I probably quote this verse at least once a week. When relationship difficulties happen, or the challenges of ministry occur, or the hassles of traffic frustrate me, this verse (if I am being Spirit led and not fleshly led) will pop into my mind. 

I wouldn’t have any difficulties if I did not have people in my life that I loved and cared for and whom feel the same way about me. Ministry challenges would disappear if I didn’t have any ministry. Traffic would not be frustrating if I didn’t have a car or a place to go. 

No oxen, no problems but the oxen are what brings in the crop. We sometimes have to deal with the manure to get to abundance.

Capture Those Moments

Last month, I heard a definition for insight that was well, rather insightful. Insight is information that is beyond the obvious. As I read this verse, I immediately thought of that definition. What a blessing it is when we go to our trusted advisors and tell them our problem and they are able to clearly communicate a solution that we never even considered. This is insight. 

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I call these moments “golden ticket” moments and they sometimes happen not even when you are seeking advice. We are in a meeting talking about business and someone says something that is exactly what we need to hear concerning an issue at home. We are listening to a podcast on one topic and the teacher casually mentions something and the proverbial light bulb goes off and you can apply it to a totally different situation.

May we strive to be people with golden tickets for others. 

Join the Conspiracy

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There is a good chance that despite it just being Halloween, the Christmas decorations are out at the store and the sales circulars are already arriving in the mail. And if we are not careful, the commercialism may just take over the true meaning of the season. Jesus came in the first advent because we all were poor…poor in spirit. We were lost and needed a Savior. I am so glad He saw my need and chose to meet it. 

 Several years back I learned about theAdvent Conspiracyand its mission to celebrate Christmas more humbly, beautifully and generously. In 2016, thisvideoreally grabbed my heart. (Note: the number is now $600B.) Check it out and let’s start today making sure we keep our hearts in tuned to the first Advent and our poverty apart from Christ. And may I be the first in 2018 to wish you Merry Christmas!

Hold Them Back

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In this proverb God does not say, “I will rescue them, or I will hold back those who are stumbling.” He expects us to do it. Now we know that we can only do anything for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit but we are the hands and feet that actually do the work. 

Today, look around you and see what work you need to be doing for Him. Seek His face to find out what work He planned for you before the foundations of the earth and then go about doing it. You are in this generation and at your specific geographic location for a reason. Take full advantage of it!

Turn Up the Heat

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The refining of silver or gold requires an extremely hot fire (around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit), a craftsman willing to skimming the dross off the top and a rock of silver or gold. In this proverb, it says that the Lord does the same thing to test our hearts. 

We are the rock, God Himself is the Craftsman and the circumstance of life is the fire. Challenges come – God is cranking up the furnace. How many impurities will rise to the top? Impurities like unbelief, despair or anger. If success comes (and it can still be the turning up of the heat,) impurities like pride, self-reliance and greed can surface.

May we be sensitive to the heat around us and be willing to allow the impurities to come and when they do, we will allow the Craftsman to skim them off.

Is My Soul Hungry?

As most of you know, food is my “go to” for just about anything. If I am sad, chips will fix that. If I am happy, let’s have ice cream. If I am depressed, a run to Waffle House will be happening soon. If I am bored, buttered popcorn will entertain me.

However, most of the time it is not my body that is hungry for food but rather my soul is hungry for love, comfort or hope. And I have found that if I stop…identify where my true hunger is coming from and then turn to the Lord, He has ALWAYS feed me and my soul will be sated. He is the Bread of Life.

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The Greatest of These is Love?

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Love and loyalty….if that is one’s focus and motivation, you really can’t go wrong. This verse also reminds me of I Corinthians 13 where the Apostle Paul says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

The greatest is love? 

It wasn’t until recently that I really let that sink it. It is more important to love then to be right. It is more important to love then to be selected. It is more important to love then to change another’s mind. It is more important to love than to give one hope…especially false hope. It is ALWAYS more important to love. 

May we be people of love!

Smoke = Fire

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If there is smoke, there is a fire. If there is trouble, there is a root. I do not believe in karma or luck or coincidence. I believe in a Sovereign God Who is actively involved in the affairs of men and that “things” don’t just happen. There is a cause and a purpose behind it. 

How I try to play this out in my life is when difficulties come, I seek to know what I can learn from these challenges. Or if it is something that is “on repeat” (i.e. I continually have to apologize for doing the same thing over and over,) I dig a little deeper to try and find the hurt, wound or lie that I am believing that is causing me to respond as I do. 

Unfortunately, there are times that instead of doing the deep work to get to the cause, I will just cover up the symptoms with food or sleep or busyness. (I am so grateful that heroin is not my drug of choice.) In the end, this only hurts myself.

May we be willing to do the hard work and find those causes and come out victorious on the other side.

Integrity Lived Out

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One of the highest compliments I ever received was by spiritual mentor who said I was a person of integrity. My definition of integrity includes not only doing the right thing but your yes being a yes and your no being a no. Has this made me “poorer”? For sure. 

Things like being way undercharged for a map book because the rookie cashier (nor I) could not find the price but when I found it later at home, going back and paying the difference. Financial costs. Making plans to help someone and then getting invited to something that would be more fun and not cancelling on them. Social cost. Saying you will have a project done by Friday and meeting deadlines. Time cost. 

But I would rather be poor in these areas and have integrity then be a fool and rich. May I always take the “high” road and not the cheap one. 

What about you? Does your talk match your walk? 

Marriage Advise from A Single Lady

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People have asked me, “You have never married, how can you offer marriage advise?” My usual answer is, “Because I have read the Bible.” The advice the Bible gives is not easy, but it can be trusted to be fruitful and effective.

A wife can be a source of blessing and honor for her husband or misery all the way down into his bones. The saying, “If mama ain’t happy, no one is happy” is a cliché but in many cases, it is true. The “temperature” of the home is often controlled by the woman of the house and I am not talking about the AC thermostat. Ladies, will you be a blessing to your husband or freeze everyone out because you don’t get your way? You have the choice.

Watch Your Lips

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One of the first counsels I received from a mentor was to be discreet. I was more than happy to take this counsel and apply it but had no idea what it meant. So, heading over to my favorite dictionary, Webster’s 1828 version, I learned that discreet means: prudent; wise in avoiding errors or evil, and in selecting the best means to accomplish a purpose; circumspect; cautious; wary; not rash.

Well, at the time of this counsel, none of these adjectives would be applied to me. But like the verse says, I needed to start being discreet so that I could maintain discretion. I did this by being slow to speak, seeking godly advice before making decisions, choosing what is right over what I want to do and looking for win-win solutions. Today, over a decade later, I am at the least still pursuing discretion and at times maintain it. How about you? Do you take the wise counsel of the writer of Proverbs and maintain discretion? 

Anger Management

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It seems to me that the world is sooooo angry. Just recently in three different cities, two strangers have started arguing in a parking lot and in all three cases, while yelling at one another, someone pulls out a gun and shots the other one. And the person dies.  This is the ultimate of fully venting one’s anger. 

Anger in itself is not a sin…Jesus got angry and He was without sin. It becomes a sin when we do not hold that anger in check…when we vent it on those around us. True maturity is demonstrated when one, despite the justified situation, is meek rather than wrathful. 

Good Name

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This was the cornerstone verse for Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. He said in an interview with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “I am always conscious of keeping my name in good order. Doing that, I believe, has been paying dividends for me even now, because in the restaurant business we have to do things right each and every time, not just sometimes.”

This is a challenging thought…doing the right thing every time. But we know it to be true…whether it is college football coaches or leaders in the church or ourselves…one indiscretion can ruin everything. You may still have the finances but family is torn apart, life purpose is destroyed and respect is lost. May we make the right choices today to keep a good name.

Someone is Watching

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I take it that since the year 1984 came and went over 2 decades ago, George Orwell’s classic is no longer a required reading in high school. But the phrase “Big Brother is watching” is still a part of our culture. Big Brother was Orwell’s fictional leader in Oceania and was watching every citizen all the time for “their own good.” Of course, he was watching for Oceania’s good not the citizens.

However, we do have Someone watching us all the time in every place and He truly is looking out for our good. And since He is all knowing and Sovereign, we do not need to fear His watching but rather trust His watchful care over us.

Treasure Chest for You

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If you knew there was a treasure chest full of silver, gold and jewels buried in your backyard, would you be quick to call the back-hoe rental place and start digging? Would you ignore sleepiness, bad weather or the season premiere of The Bachelor to get in the yard and start digging? Would you even be willing to dig with your shovels and picks if a back hoe was not available? Well, probably in your home is this type of chest and it is the Bible. In these 66 books, written over 1,000s of years ago by 35 scripts is a treasure trove of instruction, knowledge and wisdom that is better silver, gold and jewels. For many years, I was too pride to dig into it and at times now still too lazy to do it. But when I do…oh my!! I find gems and nuggets left and right. Praying that you take time this week to find yourself some nuggets.

Step #1: Fear the Lord

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Leaders are lifelong learners. The easiest and most effective way to learn more is to read (or listen to) more books. In 2014, the Pew Institute found that over 25% of American adults had not read a single book in 2013. This was triple what the number was in 1978. Don’t be like the crowd.

Are you in business? Read business books. Are you a parent? Read parenting books. Are you a spouse? Read marriage books. Are you a leader? Read leadership books. Do you relax? Read novels. Why not challenge yourself to read a book a month (or a week)? It will be life changing.

Golden Words

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A word spoken at the right time can change one’s life. How do I know? Because my life was changed. The word was choose. I was in a place in my life that because of my own choices and decisions, in a nutshell, was a disaster – emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically. But I was slowly crawling out of it through the Word of God, a great counselor and friends. However, it was HARD work.

Early one morning when the alarm went off and I didn’t want to get up to read my Bible let alone go to work, the song that played was I Choose Joy by Larnell Harris. (Check out this OLD music video of the song.) The word that jumped out to me was choose. It was empowering! I could choose to stay in bed and even skip work but what good would that do? All I had to do was look around me and know that my choosing the lazy way or the unhealthy things were leading me to places I never wanted to go back to. However, I could choose to flip the covers back, step onto that floor and start choosing the better way.

To this day, the power to choose right or wrong, good or better, better or best is still empowering me to move forward and not slide backwards. How about you? Do you have a word that was fitly spoken that is changing your life?