Last year, my daughter taught me a valuable lesson. She hadn’t played organized basketball for a few years, but she decided to try out for the school basketball team. It was time for some loving honesty from her mother.
“If you really want to try out, I’ll support you, but you know it’s been awhile since you played and you’re competing against girls who have more experience than you. I just don’t want you to be disappointed if you don’t make it.”
My daughter has been blessed with many skills and talents, and I didn’t want her to be surprised if this was one time that her skills fell short. What she said next impressed me.
“It’s okay if I don’t make the team. And if I make the team but sit on the bench, that’s okay, too. I just want to try.” Wow.
How many times do we choose not to try if we think there’s a risk of failure? But if we only try to do those things that we’re sure we can accomplish, we’ll never stretch ourselves to learn and grow. We’ll never benefit from the experience of losing gracefully. And we won’t find out what we can do in God’s strength. Who knows what God wants to do through you?
He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6)
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
Pride is the enemy of patience. Which one is guiding your heart?
When I have a list of nine easy chores and one hard one to handle, I’d rather take care of the nine and leave that tenth one til later. In fact, I’ll let a few difficult tasks stack up (hard because it’s going to take a long time, or it requires having a tough conversation, or it’s just plain boring), always opting for the easy tasks, until I’ve built up a pure dread of the work ahead.
But then it happens. I finally give in to the inevitable, and I put my mind to doing the difficult things that have been taunting me daily. And the result? It’s almost euphoria. What a blessing to have the task behind me instead of in front of me.
What’s that thing you’ve been dreading? Maybe it’s repairing the ceiling, writing a letter, or sitting down with your teen to have a tough conversation. Or maybe it’s not that it’s so dreadful like cleaning the gutters, but more that it’s intimidating, like starting a new Bible study plan. Get with it! Procrastinating only exaggerates the dread in your mind.
The end of a thing is better than its beginning. (Eclessiastes 7:8)
Are you used to ministering however others speak to you, or have you learned to answer the voice of God?
The Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him (1 Samuel 3:4-7).
Young Samuel was used to serving, but he was always following Eli’s instructions. When God first spoke to him personally, he was at first confused. If you’re trying to discern God’s voice from others’ voices, don’t get discouraged. Keep listening and thank God for His patience.
from Thin Red Line volume II
Reading — it’s not just for emails. Summertime is a great time to fall in love with a good book. Oh, the possibilities! Romance, suspense, mysteries, history, spiritual growth, devotions, leadership, autobiographies, classics, children’s books, poetry — where to start? God has given creativity to so many people who are able to bring beauty and truth to blank pages, and you can be the recipient of their artistic abilities. Resolve to stay away from the smut, and enjoy.
By the way, I am super-grateful for my amazing publisher, New Hope Publishers, as they publish great titles that include fiction and nonfiction on a wide array of topics. New Hope greatly supports missions as well, much to my joy! Check out the possibilities at http://www.newhopedigital.com/.
Why did he do it?
“When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them” (Joshua 7:21).
An Israelite named Achan took forbidden items for himself. He examined the forbidden items and thought they looked good. This is the same trap Eve fell into when she looked at the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).
Sin results when mankind is not satisfied with the good that God gives us, and instead calls good what God calls “accursed” (Joshua 6:18).
“There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.” (Joshua 7:13)
Joshua and the Israelites had gone from ultimate conquerors to weakling losers overnight. What happened? Men had died on the battlefield because they had things “under the ban,” accursed things, hidden under one man’s tent.
Feeling beat up lately? Not feeling like “more than a conqueror”? Honestly evaluate the possibility that you’ve allowed an ungodly element into your life.
Children are some of the most vulnerable of all people, and we can honor God by helping children.
This begs the question: What do children really need? Not all help is helpful, and not all giving meets an actual need. Pray about supporting orphans, helping at a children’s home, grandparenting a child whose grandparents live far away, visiting a girls or boys home, fostering or adopting, donating to a ministry that supports children, or even investing in the lives of children who are your neighbors or your children’s friends. God will show you the best way to make a difference in the life of a child.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD. (Psalm 127:3)
Submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:21)
Let’s be candid about human nature. Often when we tell our friends about our problems and disagreements, human tendency is for friends to tell us what we want to hear. “You did the right thing.” “You couldn’t help it.” “She deserved it.” And none of these responses help us grow spiritually.
Do you have a Christian friend whom you’ve given permission to get in your business? Praise God, I do. And sometimes she hurts my feelings! Sometimes I hurt hers, too, but she and I agreed a long time ago that it’s not about our feelings, it’s about honoring Christ in our friendship. We have made a pact to speak the truth in love to one another, submitting to one another when we need to have a little “iron sharpening iron” moment. And interestingly enough, when I know I need to be set straight because I’m angry, or pouting, or fearful, I often call her with the exact intention of having my dear accountability partner tell me what I need to hear.
Seek out an accountability partner. It’s okay if you don’t have a close Christian friend who readily comes to mind. Pray first, and ask God to help you cultivate this friendship that will honor Him.