Skilled potters recognize that when they press clay, it presses back, giving them an indication of what it can and cannot become. Amateur potters often lack that discernment—and the end work proves it. When you don’t honour your raw material, reality becomes your enemy. The word vocation comes from the Latin word for “voice.” Discovering your calling involves listening very carefully. If you close your ears and pursue something you’re neither called nor equipped to do, you’ll end up living with anxiety that whispers, “You’re trying to do something God didn’t tell you to do.” The courage to acknowledge what you’re not brings great freedom; the lack of it imprisons you. Parker Palmer writes, “You cannot choose your calling; you must let your life speak.” Perhaps you were created to learn, and in so doing to benefit others. If you are, you’ll find yourself drawn to reading, reflecting, writing, and teaching. However, if you’re convinced (or allow others to convince you) that you must be a corporate success in order for your life to count, you’ll always be sawing against the grain of your life. Instead, learn to ride the horse in the direction it’s going. Philosopher Mortimer Adler writes about brilliant minds called to sit at the table of what he terms “the great conversation of the human race.” Well, guess what? Ninety-nine percent of us will never sit at that table! But we can look forward to the commendation: “Well done…good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21), that God promised to those who hear His call, accept it, and devote their lives to fulfilling it.
Published on Thursday, June 2, 2016 @ 7:43 AM CDT
Timing is an integral part of God's plan for your life. You need to know what to do and when to do it. If you wait too long, you'll miss your window of God-given opportunity. One author points out that as believers we experience two births: a natural and a spiritual birth. She writes: "For some...spiritual birth happens in childhood. Others, like me, have to work to get there with a combination of effort and...the stripping down of layers of independence. Regardless of how we get to the spiritual labor/delivery room, at our appointed time-unlike a natural birth...we must be willing to be reborn. We can't remain in darkness and isolation. 'When the time arrives [to] come to the opening of the womb' and be pushed into the world as a new creation, you must be willing to emerge. We all know people who attend every seminar and read every self-help book. They're always getting ready to emerge, but never quite make it. You may even be one of them. Perhaps God has given you a vision but you've hidden it away for so long waiting for the right time, it has become stale. Visions have a shelf life. They are for 'an appointed [fixed, chosen, prearranged] time'" (Habakkuk 2:3 NIV). Maurice Chevalier said, "If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured...mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved." Bottom line: you can sit on the sidelines or get involved in the game. So, what will it be?
Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 @ 7:45 AM CDT
“Husbands, love your wives.” Eph 5:25 NKJV One of the biggest challenges in marriage is communication. Here’s an example: in the past husbands went to work and wives stayed home to raise the children. Now, someone has estimated that the average man speaks about twenty-nine thousand words a day and the average woman speaks about thirty-three thousand words a day. That may not be accurate, but let’s use it as an illustration. He’s been out in the workplace all day and by the time he gets home he’s used up twenty-six thousand of his words, leaving only three thousand he feels no need to say. But she’s been locked up all day with the dishes, the diapers and the drudgery. She has talked to her mother, to friends and neighbors and used up about eight thousand words. So when he gets home she has twenty-five thousand words waiting for him. After a silent supper he spends the evening watching TV, then they go to bed. As he’s about to fall asleep a voice says, “Are you awake?” If you are wise, you will be! If not, tomorrow night there will be fifty thousand words lying beside you. Do the math; in ten years there will be enough words to fill the central library. But maybe not; maybe there will be no words. A frequent reason given in divorce is: “We just got to where we had nothing to say to one another anymore.” The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives.” Love listens when we have nothing particularly interesting to say. It listens because only when we have been heard and validated, do we feel cherished. So, “How’s your communication?”
Published on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 @ 7:44 AM CDT
You can control what goes on in your mind by filling it with God’s Word. Not the Word you read casually, but the Word you process mentally, apply to each situation that arises, and stand on in times of crisis because you know it’s your right to have the peace Jesus promised. Jesus corrected His disciples because they lost their peace of mind during a storm. He didn’t lose His. He was asleep in the back of the boat. So where are you today? Resting with Jesus in the back of the boat or panicking with the others up front? Worry overwhelms you when you forget two things: (1) What the Lord has told you. Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side” (Mark 4:35 NIV). And once He spoke those words, there wasn’t a wave big enough to sink them. Anytime you’re doing what God has told you to do, you may go through storms but you won’t sink. (2) Who is with you in the boat. The disciples thought they knew Jesus pretty well, but before the night was over they were asking, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (v. 41 NIV). Has it ever occurred to you that the storm you’re in right now has been permitted by God to show you that you don’t have a problem He can’t solve; that you’re not alone, and that through this experience you’ll come to know Him better? In the Amplified Bible, the words of Jesus are translated like this: “Do not let your hearts be…distressed, agitated” (John 14:1). The only power worry has over you—is the power you give it.
Published on Monday, May 30, 2016 @ 12:00 PM CDT
Here’s a sobering Scripture: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (v. 1 NIV). Jesus was hard on the religionists of His day because they spent their time nit-picking. They condemned the disciples for not washing their hands and Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Consider Jesus’ response: “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me” (John 8:15-16 NIV). So here are some questions you need to answer: "Do I judge others based on their actions, and judge myself based on my intentions? When someone’s behaviour doesn’t reflect a choice or decision you’d have made, are you quick to comment? When people don’t move at your pace or do something the way you want it done, do you peg them as lazy and worthless? When you hear something negative about somebody, do you repeat it before checking to see if there’s any truth in it?” Ben Franklin said, “I resolve to speak ill of no man…not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of every body.” If you’ve a genuine concern for someone who’s going in the wrong direction and have earned the right to address it, do it in the spirit of love. And remember, you earn that right by consistently demonstrating love and care for them.
Published on Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 7:29 AM CDT