The Journey

words from along the way by Keith Crawford

Did you close out your day?

good_book_wrapWe live in a fluid culture where the intersection of work and life intermingle with out respect to place or time. As a result we often find it difficult to turn off work mode. We aren’t present with our families or we are lying awake at night thinking of projects and deadlines. To cope with this reality I think you’ll find it invigorating to set boundaries and space between these worlds and a large part of that process for me has become a routine I call “closing the day.”

Listen to me carefully. I’m a man with sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night owl tendencies and my circadian rhythms have me doing my best work at 2am. If I can close a day trust me… you can do. Your body and soul will thank you.

Here’s how

  1. Inbox Zero – Every day. Your time for this goal may vary but at the end of the day there shouldn’t be a single email in your inbox. Not one. Be diligent and learn the tricks.
    1. Organize your email into 3 folders: Action, Hold, Archive – If you can respond to an email in less than 2 minutes do so. If not it should hit one of these folders. Action if you need to do something, Hold if you are awaiting someone else to take the next action, Archive for archiving. Simple. GTD preaches Do, Delegate, Delete, Defer.
      1. Forward emails to your Evernote Account if they reference an active project and you need them at your fingertips.
      2. Defer emails into tasklists or appointments as quick as possible.
      3. Anything left over, stick in Action folder and process tomorrow before you check the new messages.
      4. Get read of the junk, use another email address for newsletters or use filters to automatically sort emails. Don’t forget to Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
  2. Everything in its place and place for everything
    1. Calendar – Live by a calendar or 3. Place events there so you know where they are assigned and don’t think about them again. If you need take some action prior to an event you might add it as a separate appointment depending on the time you need to allocate. Live by the motto, if it isn’t on a calendar it doesn’t exist. Tooltip: Use Google Calendar
    2. Tasklist – Anything that isn’t an appointment or a reserved time block goes here. Use an app that syncs to the web so you have them with you at all times. Throw it in the tasklist, put some reference info in the notes, and stick it on a day. You can prioritize and sort later – Tooltip: Try the 2Do app or Wunderlist system
    3. Notebook – Things you need to remember, reference material, project data, meeting minutes. This is your second-brain. Get a good notebook or try the incredible Evernote system. I create work and project folders and drag the info into Evernote. I don’t have to worry what I did with it I know its there when I need it. Tooltip: Get a Ecosystem Notebook, made in USA with nice perforated edges, download Evernote everywhere
  3. Close the Day
    1. At the end of each day review your calendar and tasklist.
    2. Juggle what needs to be moved
    3. Set priorities and timelines for the next day. Now you are done.

Put it up. Everything is tied up into a nice tidy bow so walk away. Seriously, know that you did all you could do today, everything is in its place and you know what you are facing tomorrow. Less to worry about and less to invade our minds. You will sleep better I promise ( or else I’ll give you the name of my sleep doctor).

One last piece of advice. Set times you are offline. I call it airplane mode. From 5-7p every evening I make a habit of putting my phone on silent and face down in another room. Nothing earth shattering will happen and if it does I’ll find out about it at 7:01pm

What is your system? Do you think “Closing your Day” will help you be more present and rested?

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Staking out a Third Way

ArrowsI have no formal education in Political Science beyond my 8th grade civics class so I’m very much an empty talking head but I’ll tell you what I know.

Labels, Rhetoric, and the DNC/RNC party’s bent toward whatever is politically expedient isn’t working out very well for this country.

So I dare propose we try something new: discussing ideas between real people and then working to get sensible people elected.

The premise is that we have now promoted political labels to the point of being an obstacle. There is much more that makes us common than makes us different.

Practically it looks like this:

1. Start Listening & Talking to people with different ideas than you.

Last year a group of friends that like to talk politics decided to take our conversations offline. We created a safe place of mutual respect and the craziest thing happened. We were no longer simply liberals and conservatives but we were Americans that disagreed on a great deal yet also discovered a vast common ground.

To be clear there are divisive issues that touch the core of our faith and emotions and many times we must agree to disagree. But due to the relationships and intentional respect I learned a great deal about how others see these issues. If we can suck the vehement rhetoric and posturing that normally accompanies these issues we might make real progress.

Lastly, you’ll realize that those wedge issues have little to do with foreign diplomacy, how we fund street repairs, ensuring quality education, reducing crime, or any hundred other practical functions of government.

Start by listening to voices you don’t naturally agree with. Don’t choose bombastic media outlets but find moderate sources that don’t automatically reinforce your perspective.

Labels & rhetoric are for those too unsure of their beliefs to think for themselves.

Listen long enough and you’ll be forced to thoughtfully reexamine what you believe. You’ll be better for it.

2. Look for the Right and Wrong in both the Left and the Right.

Tonight I praised an interview that President Obama gave the Atlantic on Iran and Israel.

 

My praise raised eyebrows because I’m a conservative and everything he says I should oppose. This current climate gets to the heart of the weakness of the current political party system.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) elevate themselves above all else. If someone is on our side we should stand with them and if they are on the opposing side we always oppose them.

To be clear there is much to be opposed but when we oppose it because of who said it we have missed the mark. Let’s return to the battle of ideas. Take a position because of what you believe and articulate why it makes for a better America.

That isn’t happening these days and the culprit is either:

  • Elected officials that have no conviction of ideas.
  • They are inept in making their case to the American public.
  • Few are concerned with anything other than re-election and party influence.

Voters choice, take your pick.

When you only listen to one-sided propaganda you will eventually accept it truth. Let us take a radical step of encouraging civil discourse amongst ourselves and we will inherently challenge the stranglehold that the 2 self-interested parties hold on American Politics.

My friend @kyranpittman said it best,

PS: Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope in AmericansElect.org

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How can I…?

Time to play word association. Tell me what you think of when I say this name-

Gideon.

You probably thing of words that speak to the great strength, faith, and leadership of Gideon. How he led the Israelite people in battle and brought down the walls of Jericho. But take another look at the man you think you know.

Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:11-12

There is more going on here than first meets the eye. Notice where Gideon is threshing wheat. Threshing involves tossing the chaff into the air so the breeze can carry it off leaving the seed to fall back down. It would make much more sense to thresh wheat on a hilltop or at least in an open field but we find Gideon hiding in a winepress. (Understandable when you look at the Midianite oppression in the preceding verses). But look at what the angel calls him,

“O mighty man of valor”

While the angel knew of God’s call on Gideon’s life I can’t help but think these words might have been said with a sly grin. Gideon certainly didn’t appear to be a mighty man. He was a scared farmer in hiding.

The angel proclaims that that Gideon will be employed to save Israel from their oppression. (Judges 6:14) now look at his response.

To paraphrase – Me? I’m the least in my family and we are the weakest clan of my tribe. I’m the lowest of the low. You want me to do what?

In God’s response you can almost hear him whisper… I know but I’m God and I will be with you.

He whispers the same thing to you and I when we begin to protest that we don’t have the strength or skills to be of use. God does not use the able, he uses the willing.

Just look at what he was able to accomplish through a willing man called Gideon.

Let my prayer be to have a willing heart.

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The Fabric of our Lives

I’ve been asking many of you to pray for my friends Cotton and Donna over the past few days and it occurs to me that quite a few of you don’t have the pleasure to know this family so I wanted to introduce them and tell a bit of their story.

The Current Situation

Donna has been in the midst of the a high risk pregnancy and over the past 3 days things took a turn for the worst. Skyrocketing blood pressure led to a hospital visit and then being rushed to UAMS here in Little Rock. She was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and the situation went from bad to worse. At this moment Donna is in need of your prayers, tonight is going to be a tough night. I won’t dive into the details further but you can follow @cottonr on Twitter for updates. Pray for Donna and pray for the Doctors.

cotton_collage

Clockwise: Cotton & Donna | Cotton completing his 1st @Gowalla trip at the UofA | Messing around in Hotel dining hall | Myself, Christopher Spencer, & Cotton at WordCamp | Cotton holding Claire

 

A glimpse of greatness

Can I tell you a bit about my friend?

Cotton may be the most authentic, generous, loving, and joyful man I know. There isn’t a person around that knows him that doesn’t have a hilarious story and doesn’t love the guy. If you don’t like Cotton the problem is probably with you.

This is a guy that talked his way through police barriers to take MREs to tornado victims in Vilonia within hours of the destruction. He helped found a non-profit organization called The One that works to support the Van Homeless outreach ministry in Central Arkansas. You should hear him talk about the moving experience of volunteering overnight in a warming shelter that was saving lives in Little Rock last year… and that’s the just the tip of the iceberg.

I met Cotton at a geek conference a couple of years ago and we soon discovered that we were both gregarious guys with quick laughs and a shared love of technology. What neither of us knew is that we’d also discover a common love for Christ and an intense spiritual kinship. He’s family to Sunshine and I. He’s a dear brother in Christ and Uncle Cotton around our house.

My friend Greg shared the story on his blog today that will forever bond Cotton, @jgreghenderson and I. I’ve never written about our experience with that type of loss but, as we discovered through Cotton, many of you have been down that road as well.

Donna is saint (heck she’s Cotton’s wife what more do you want to know? I said He’s awesome – not easy to live with).

Honestly it doesn’t matter who they are right now. They could use your prayers.

But when I read in Proverbs of the blameless man, the kind, the giving, the merciful… I’m reading about my friend Cotton.

You can read his blog at CottonRohrscheib.com and follow him on Twitter at @cottonr.

God Bless you both brother. We are praying.

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The Universal Progression of Sin

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. (Genesis 3:6 NLT)

She stopped and gazed upon the forbidden tree. 90% of the battle was lost right here. The moment we detect sin we must avert our eyes so desire can has less ground in which to root.

Then she examines the fruit, which means she walked near to the tree. Instead of moving away she moved toward the fruit and discovered the great truth about sin- It looks delicious! Always.

Finally, Pride kicked in. It says she wanted to have the wisdom. I’ve long said there is no sin but pride. All sin is a manifestation of selfishness. I know better than God & this is what I want-

The we commit sin.

How much more faithful would we be if we interpreted this process early on with a call to an accountability partner, or voicing memorized scripture.

See the steps & stop early.

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Plans of the Diligent vs Hasty

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

Compass

Too often my efforts are of the hasty variety. Look at the contrasting definitions:

  • diligent: characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort
  • hasty: fast and typically superficial

What distinguishes superficial from earnest and steady?

I think thoughtfulness and pre-action prayer are major components to a diligent and sustained effort. We will soon find our resources and motivation quickly dissipate if our plans are not of and for the Lord.

Let me be careful not to rush ahead of God, but slow down and seek Him initially and continually so that he’ll provide the means for His servant to be diligent and therefore abundant.

Abundant in Spirit, Abundant in Fruit, Abundant in Joy

What plans do I need to give back to God?

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Rediscovering the Sabbath

I’ve discovered that I often think I understand an instruction in the Bible simply due to familiarity but when I actually search God’s Word for an accurate answer I discover I held an incorrect or too narrow of view. Notably the former method of understanding is much less demanding. Such is the case of Isaiah 56.

The first 8 verses of Isaiah 56 issues a divine directive to “Keep the Sabbath” and specifically twice in vs 2 and 6 elaborates by saying,

“Keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it” Isa 56:2

This begs the question – does this apply to me today? If so, what does it mean?

Does this apply to us?

Well it’s the 4th Commandment (Ex 2o:8) and we find Holy Day observances continuing through the New Testament so there is no cause to conclude this prescription has expired. So…

What does it mean?

Let me pause for a moment and say that this isn’t about how you observe the Sabbath. This is not meant as condemnation of judgment on anyone but a challenge to examine scripture and ourselves to rise up to this commandment. I simply offer that Christians are not called to the bare minimum but always called to more… the process of becoming more like Christ, sanctification, should be a continual expanding of our understanding and challenge to our ways.

Let’s look to God’s Word to begin an understanding of “Keeping the Sabbath”

Sabbath Instituted

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Gen 2:1-3

Don’t let our familiarity with this passage gloss over its significance. Does God need rest? I’ve often heard the refrain “Even God took a day to relax”. Yes there is an example for physical restoration set but the idea that God set aside the Sabbath for our needs is ludicrous. Shall we reduce this understanding to a divine power nap? No.

So why did God rest? It was time to be mindful and observant.be_still

It’s the first hint of a common theme in that bears out instructions for us to be still and be mindful and I might dare suggest this is the heart of many of the following passage concerning work and food preparation. When I’m overly concerned with this temporal life or physical things then I’m not concentrating on God. Hence God made the Sabbath Holy to draw us to Himself.

Working on the Sabbath

"’Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. Deut 5:12-15

A very serious instruction that we will see applied strictly. Let it be said that we are under Grace and in my humble opinion the point of this is to draw me spiritually and that takes time, study, reflection, meditation, and worship all of which are battling for time during our working days. But let us return to the hypothesis that we are called to more. Shouldn’t my life reflect these instructions?

Sacred Assembly

“‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the LORD Lev 23:3

There isn’t much gray area here. God’s Holy day should find me with God’s people in corporate prayer, study and worship. A sacred convocation.

Ways and Words

Fair warning this is getting ready to get uncomfortable

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD,” Isa 58:13

Not going your own way… that squarely defeats any flimsy excuse I might offer. Say what you like but we like to find exceptions for deer stands, golf, and NFL football. Those seem petty and childish in the light of a great God.

Idle words… perhaps I should hush, listen, meditate, study. Be still

Commerce Condemns Us

“Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day… “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day” Nehemiah 13:15-18

Nehemiah looks at the people and their buying and selling of food and rebukes them harshly. I taught this morning with a gas station coffee cup in my hand and we go out to eat 75% of the time for Sunday lunch. I must admit this caused me to stop in my tracks and examine how I “keep the Sabbath”. When I combine this teaching with Deut 5 which involves requiring others to work on my behalf I find myself at a new crossroads.

Now I do not dare suggest that eating out or buying coffee is evil, sinful, or detracts from the Sabbath. However, I am saying that in my own life making a concentrated effort not to purchase anything, including food, would make me more mindful of the day. I think that would be a good thing and may be getting back to the heart of the Sabbath.

If I choose to make Sunday as distinct as possible from the other 6 wouldn’t that cause me to be mindful of my practices and motivations? I think maybe so.

How serious did God take the Sabbath?

“On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’” So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”  Exodus 16:22-26

The miracle of the manna in the wilderness, and yet God expected His day to be so “set aside” that He didn’t even want them to gather bread on the ground that day. The Israelites were expected to gather extra on the 6th day and do all the cooking and just eat the left overs on the Sabbath.

…but wait

If I can’t eat out and can’t cook on Sunday I might starve so let’s interject a very important point.

Don’t get legalistic about the Sabbath. (hint: See Matthew 12:1-13)

This isn’t a set of check boxes and regulations to be followed but a day that God asked us to set aside, to focus on Him, to worship Him and to think on Him.

How serious do I take the Sabbath?

I’m not sure what my Sunday’s will look like moving forward but its high time I put as much emphasis on God’s desire for Sunday as I do on my Sunday afternoon nap. I’m still praying as to how I’ll observe the Lord’s Day but I can assure you I take it much more seriously than I did just a week ago.

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The Servant’s Song–a study of Isa 50

1293270_82604170My exuberance for the scripture we studied this morning in Sunday School spilled over into a lobby conversation with a dear friend and a gentleman I regard as a true lover & student of God’s Word. Our time was brief so I promised to email him the passage and a few brief thoughts. Instead I’ll just share them here. (Don’t worry I’ll send him a link.)

The text I’m writing about is found in Isaiah 50:4-11, and is commonly known as the third of the “Servant Songs”. Let’s unpack and dig in.

The Servant Songs of Isaiah

There are four very unique passages in Isaiah and in my uneducated perspective they stand alone as the clearest expression of Jesus Christ in all of the Old Testament. While all of God’s Word and the OT prophets are pointing to Jesus these are set apart as Jesus is speaking in first person.

The 4 Servant Songs are:

  1. Isaiah 42:1-9
  2. Isaiah 49:1-13
  3. Isaiah 50:4-11
  4. Isaiah 53:1-17

Note that the final Servant Song, Isaiah 53 is essentially the pinnacle of the entire book of Isaiah. It is where prophecy becomes pure gospel evangelism. It is the ultimate prophecy – a coming Messiah.

As you review these passages you should be able to easily identify a change in speaker. It’s as if the prophet Isaiah, who is mostly used as the voice of God, suddenly becomes a conduit for Christ Jesus himself. These words are a very direct expression of Christ is the midst of a larger prophecy.

Namely: You are in bondage due to sin. I’m sending a Savior.

Brief Historical Context

Israel is in Babylonian captivity because, as God states often, their refusal to repent and be obedient. He has permitted (Isa 47:6)  this time of suffering to cleanse & purify His people (Isa 48:10-11). Now King Cyrus has been prompted by God to begin a victorious offensive against the Babylonians (Isa 45:1-7). God is making a very clear point.

  1. I am God, why do you doubt me?
  2. King Cyrus is doing my will and will bring you freedom and restoration.
  3. Cyrus is only a picture. You are in need of an ultimate redeemer and I’m sending the Messiah.

Isaiah 50

A few quick notes on the verses leading up to the Servant’s Song

God is reminding Israel they have no cause for complaint. God did not divorce her or sell away His children. Remember that a man could divorce a woman for most anything in these days as well as sell their children to repay a debt. God challenges them by saying He had done neither.

Why, when I came, was there no man;
why, when I called, was there no one to answer?
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver? Isa 50:2

None were found faithful or heeded the call of the Lord. Hence, His righteous judgment permitted them to be taken into captivity.

Now onto the Servant’s Song

The Servant’s song begins is verse 4, I hope you hear the change in pronouns and perspective of the speaker.

The Lord GOD has given Me
    the tongue of those who are instructed
    to know how to sustain the weary with a word.
    He awakens [Me] each morning;
    He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed

Isa 50:4

God gave Jesus the words of wisdom so that he could not only comfort but sustain the weary. Also notice that Christ says, “He awakens me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen” Jesus Christ, who is in complete fellowship with God and is completely God speaks of daily fellowship with His father every morning.

What’s your excuse? Are you spiritually stronger than Christ? So how much more should we cherish and prioritize our time with God in the mornings. Let us seek daily fellowship so when He speaks our ears are ready to listen.

The Lord GOD has opened My ear, and I was not rebellious;  I did not turn back.  I gave My back to those who beat Me,  and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard.  I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting. The Lord GOD will help Me;  therefore I have not been humiliated; therefore I have set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Isa 50:5-7

Verse 5 should be a clear reminder that Jesus Christ has free will and his willingness to obey God’s will enabled Him to be the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. Only a blameless and willing sacrifice could bridge the gap between our sin and an Holy Father.

Isa 50:6-7 should leap off the page concerning the identity of the speaker, it can only be Jesus. This is Christ  speaking of being spit upon and having his beard pulled out. This is the humiliation of the cross but Jesus says “I did not hide my face from scorn…” I bear this humiliation willingly because…. watch this.

The Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I have not been humiliated; therefore I have set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Isa 50:7

What the world intended for evil and humiliation of Jesus would backfire because the Lord God is His help and will use even these cruel acts to become a testimony of grace. Therefore, because God is with me and is my help Christ says that He has set his face like a flint, a stone, headed directly to honor and worship God.

Verses 8-9  are thunderous that translate essentially into, “What now? What do you have to charge me with know? I am the Messiah.

Verse 10 STOP. Slow down and digest this:

Who among you fears the LORD, listening to the voice of His servant?
    Who [among you] walks in darkness, and has no light?
    Let him trust in the name of the LORD; let him lean on his God.

Isa 50:10

This verse is a balanced spiritual equation. Requirements=Results

  • Requirements
    • Fear the Lord – An over-simplified understanding of Fearing the Lord is to be in awe of God’s power, divinity, and righteous judgment.
    • Are you listening? – Do you know the voice of the servant? John 10:27 – In our present day this is studying God’s Word and through prayer and meditation allowing the Holy Spirit to speak the truth into our hearts
  • The Results of Coming into the Light
    • This is the invitation of Christ – If you are walking in darkness without the light of Jesus then come and trust the name of the Lord and lean on God.
    • You get to lean on God. – How beautiful is that? Your respect and listening will lead to increased faith that leads to leaning further and further on God.

This servant song takes a dramatic turn in verse 10 and it’s almost as if Jesus is turning the the audience (us) and asking “Who among you fears the Lord?”, Do you know him? Do you know My voice? If not, you are walking in darkness with no light.

I really like verse 10 because it serves as a template for living the Christian Life:

  1. Fear God
  2. Spend Time in daily fellowship so you can hear and know His voice as expressed through the Bible and applied by the Holy Spirit
  3. Trust in the name of YHWH, GOD ALMIGHTY
  4. Lean on the God.. Lay my problems and weakness at His feet so I can lean fully on my Heavenly Father.

This would make a great verse to memorize and apply to our daily lives.

Conclusion

Start in Isa 42 and just read through Isa 53 – See the larger picture of God’s merciful and redeeming love.

Jesus himself issued the invitation, don’t miss the warning in Isa 50:11 of trying to live in our own light.

Who among you fears the Lord?

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Asking for Wisdom

Without baring an uncomfortable amount about my prayers & spiritual needs I have begun to specifically ask God for 2 things.

  • Wisdom
  • Fear of the Lord

(We’ll leave the latter for a future post once I digest & organize my Bible study on the topic.)

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It felt a bit odd, even silly, asking for wisdom but I’m in desperate need of God’s wisdom so I can see with His eyes, feel with His heart, and speak with His words. It’s a renewed journey to have the mind of Christ. I need mind renewal that results in less of me and more of him. (Rom 12:2)

The call for us to seek Wisdom is often repeated, especially in the wisdom literature of Proverbs where I draw daily water.

I could reference many passages but Proverbs 2 is more than sufficient –

"making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart,and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you," -Proverbs 2:2-11

That sounds like where I need to be. Attentive and actively calling out for Wisdom.

As I begin this prayer journey I was struck by this passage in James (it’s worth mentioning that James is my favorite book of the Bible & I often just flip there to read). Last night I was reading James and found this,

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." James 1:5-6

I found the problem. I too often pray “hoping” instead of believing without doubt. God grants simple people like me wisdom and does so generously if I truly seek it as treasure that I’m confident in finding.

Your Turn

Do you pray for wisdom?
Can you give testimony of it changing your mind & life?

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One year

Last year about this time of day my daughter was born.

I’ve learned a tremendous amount these past 12 months and I’m fully aware that I’ve barely scratched the surface. However, the most ever-present lesson of being a father is the continual reshaping of how I view my heavenly Father.

I’ve been given a glimpse into the depth and breadth of a Father’s love. How I will work and arrange to give the very best to my child. The qualities of corrective discipline, protection, and patience have taught me a great deal about God’s nature. More than once as I’ve watched my baby girl learn to walk I’ve seen the object lesson of my own spiritual stumbles, falls, and triumphs.

I have seen how my heart swells the moment she smiles or runs to me and I’ve been reminded that the same is true with my Heavenly Father when I turn my attention toward him in worship or prayer.

Lastly, I’ve come to understand the powerful bonds I form with the people that care for my daughter, those that love her. From Mrs. Bobbie and Mrs. Kim in our nursery to friends like Kim, Jonah, & Mallory (and many more) that just truly love my little girl. If you love my little girl it means more to me than I can put into words because you value the thing in this world I treasure most. I think it’s a small taste of how God feels when we show love to His children.

I’m not discovering anything that millions of Christian fathers before haven’t found already but this is my journey. As I learn to love like a Father I’m also re-learning how to be loved by a Heavenly Father.

What father among you, if his son asks fora fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then,who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Fathergive the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13

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