When People Are Wrong

titleSometimes people will notice a difference in you as a Christian, but they won’t completely “get it.” Because they don’t understand or relate, they’ll describe it as it makes sense to them.

The king said to David, “I’ve heard that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and extraordinary wisdom.” (Daniel 5:14)

Well, close. Not exactly “the spirit of the gods.” A few verses later, Daniel gives credit to the Most High God. He doesn’t lecture the king or openly tell him he’s wrong. He maintains respect and dignity for the king while honoring God.

We don’t have to clash in harsh disagreement with people, even when we find error. We can be more patient and gracious than that. Sure, we want to correct people, but there are ways to convey truth without demeaning someone. After all, who pays attention to the content of what someone says when that person is slapping and berating them with words? Not me.

Have (and show) more respect – for yourself, others, and God.

Stupid

proverbs_12_1__wallpaper__by_plmethvin-d4e190cWhoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1) 

Well, that’s to the point.

I was raised never to call anyone stupid, but the truth is some choices and behaviors are stupid.

We don’t see it at the time. We can rationalize stupidity. Like hating correction? “What kind of correction? Who is doing the correcting? Do they really know what’s going on? Do they have authority to correct me? I think I’m right. I know better. I’m not going to let anyone boss me!”

Well, that settles it. The line is drawn. When someone rejects correction and discipline because of pride, he or she is stupid. Or if you want it to sound a bit nicer, he or she lacks knowledge.

Either way, the very person who needs correction and discipline refuses it.

Before we point a finger at too many others, we might want to take a good look at ourselves, because none of us is always enthusiastically willing to accept correction and discipline.

Maybe today is a good day to learn a lesson.

Retracing Your Steps

Then the Lord said to him, “Go and return by the way you came…” (1 Kings 19:15)

sander-zelhem-green-passageSometimes we need to retrace our steps. Sometimes what is behind becomes what is forward. Our past is often woven into our future, not just in memory, but in learning something new, changing our perspective, healing, correcting. We don’t return to the past because we need to camp there, feel sorry for ourselves, or try to recreate a season or situation we loved. We repurpose the journey. We open our eyes to the possibilities. We let God guide us to new experiences in some old places. He extends the invitation because He knows our futures the best. He knows what we need ahead, and sometimes that means returning the way we came, not in our stubbornness or selfishness but in humble obedience to Him.

Walk the Talk

image_gallery“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 gives us guidance of what to give our children in order to equip them to live faith-filled lives, but what happens if we don’t start well?

I’m the baby of my family by several years. When my sisters and I were little, I was often left out of situations and experiences, but I was a witness to much. One pushed the other and broke a window. (It wasn’t as violent as it sounds.) One took the farm truck and got stuck in a field road. They had friends at the house even though our parents had said no visitors. Chores didn’t get done. The list goes on.

They knew things I did wrong, too. To tattle or not to tattle? To follow the example or follow instruction?

I didn’t tattle often – because I got bribes. The funny thing is my parents found out most everything anyway. When there’s a broken window or a truck out of place, it doesn’t take long to discover.

Fast forward a generation. I don’t think I’ve ever told my daughters “do what I say, not what I do,” but I know there have been many contradictions between what I said and did. Despite all their good qualities and habits, there have been times I’ve thought, “Of all things, did they have to pick up that from me?!”

Our lives will be contradictory. We don’t realize every contradiction, but what do we do with the ones we notice? Consider what hypocrisies annoy or pain you in others. What contradictions are in your own life? You don’t have to be perfect, but in order to teach your children (and others), you have to be willing to be taught. Start today.

Learning and Living God’s Word: It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

bibleI was challenged to read through the Bible in 40 days. I prefer studying to reading. When I read it, I approach it more as a book I’m reading, turning each page to get to the end. I absorb what I can. I try to make connections. I wonder how I ever missed something or how I’ll ever remember many somethings. Even reading at a slower pace as my husband and I read through it in a year seems a bit quick for me.

When I study it, I approach it with more intention and attention. I camp in it. I draw intricate webs among verses, people, and concepts. I dig into the roots of words to bridge language gaps. I see highlights God is creating for me, and I create patterns of learning that help me remember. God challenges me to live his Word out loud in practical application. I sift through God’s Word as he sifts my life with his truth.

I know both reading and studying are important. God teaches me through both. Each discipline can change me, or rather, God changes me through each discipline. As I interact with God through his living Word, he invades moments in life-changing ways.

I might prefer to learn in certain ways, but he’s able to teach in any way. And he does. I have some a-ha moments, but God has a lot going on that I’m not aware of much of the time. He knows how and when to work in order for me to learn and apply what will challenge me to grow. He uses his Word to prepare, convict, and correct me.

Preparation. God plants and tends seeds I’ll need later. I might not know how I’m going to apply a lesson or even if I’m going to apply a lesson. One lesson builds on another in imperceptible ways until they collide with an experience. I might not recall all the details of the lessons, but I have a moment of recollection, as if I’ve been here before. God leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, and I know he has been purposefully walking alongside me on the path leading to where I am.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Conviction. God provides the truth I need at the moment I need it. Sometimes it feels like a cold cup of water thrown in my face, like a wake-up call to jolt me from a spiritual slumber. Other times, it feels like a gentle nudge or an “atta-girl” encouragement. Either way, God lines up his truth with my perspective and reveals the difference and similarity. He superimposes his reality onto mine, and challenges me to yield everything of myself into his presence. He has a better vantage point and shares a glimpse with me.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)

Correction. God reveals the truthfulness of past situations. He connects the fruit of my life to my growth process, including how I responded to his instruction along the way. I might not have given much consideration when I ignored a gentle prodding or bold teaching, but when he draws the connections along the process, I learn about God’s desires and provision, as well as my obedience. Correction applies to the lessons of when I responded well, too. I often learn lessons more about God’s mercy and grace than any effort I could ever extend. When I trust God to shed his light on my past, I can believe what he sees in the past over what I’ve concluded on my own.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God can teach us in whatever way he chooses. We choose whether or not we learn. God wants us to move beyond knowing about him. He wants us to know him personally. He wants us to move beyond believing in him. He wants us to believe him. God wants us to move beyond learning his Word. He wants us to live his Word. Are you inviting him to prepare, convict, and correct you today?