What kind of wake do you want to leave behind you?

wake

I’m 31 years old and I would say that one of the most difficult questions to answer as I mature deals with what I ultimately want to accomplish in life. It’s easy to say that I want to be successful and make a difference but what does that really look like? How would you answer that question? What does success look like for you? I’m working through Proverbs and Proverbs 10:21 says…

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.

“The lips of the righteous nourish many…” This is telling us something about what it means to live on purpose. Those who find a true sense of direction in life realize that we are not meant to live only for ourselves. This proverb is telling us that the righteous live to be a blessing to others. Their words and their lives “nourish many.” The righteous are not out there to just consume resources and hoard wealth. They find their sense of fulfillment in emptying themselves and in so doing they find greater fulfillment than those who always try to seek selfish gain.

“…fools die for lack of sense.” Maybe their lack of sense is demonstrated in their vain pursuit of wealth and purpose outside of the purposes of God. The people that Jesus always had the toughest time with were the Pharisees. They used their self-righteousness and surface level piety to get their own need for self-aggrandizement met. They lived for themselves even though it looked like they lived for God.

So what are you living for? What is the wake that you want to leave behind? Are you living merely to please yourself or have you oriented your life around the purposes of God? The beautiful thing about surrendering your life to God is that he enables you to find fulfillment as you empty yourself repeatedly for the fulfillment of others.

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Truly alive

alive

Proverbs 10:21 says…

“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.”

It is clear from the Bible that words proceed from the heart (Luke 6:45). This passage is clearly distinguishing the heart of the righteous from the heart of the wicked. Those who are righteous on the inside show it through the words that they speak. Those who are wicked on the inside show it by the words that they speak.

I’ve said it before but I think it’s important to emphasize the fact that righteousness is a gift. No one is righteous simply based on their own merits.  It is a gift that is afforded to us through the work of Jesus on the cross. Once that gift is accepted however, we can then begin to apply our efforts in living lives that are characterized by righteousness.

“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver…” Those who live to please God have good stored up in them. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the grocery store, the bank or the DMV. Well, even the righteous probably struggle in the DMV (-; The point is that they are preoccupied and focused on the state of their hearts and therefore have things of value to say. It becomes easier and easier as they move along because they know that the life inside of them matters just as much if not more than the life outside of them.

“….the heart of the wicked is of little value.” Those who are wicked are generally more concerned with life on the outside than they are with life on the inside. They tend to think that the state of their heart doesn’t matter all that much. We live in a culture that drastically underestimates the importance of the heart. The emphasis that we see around us is on getting the job done and taking shortcuts to success. We like the idea of having a good and noble heart but we think that’s something that just sort of happens.

Working on your heart is serious business. Growth on the inside doesn’t happen without serious love and attention from God and from ourselves. This is the real difference between the righteous and the wicked. Truly righteous people are becoming more and more alive on the inside. This growing life inside manifests in the valuable things that they say and the freedom that they live in. Wickedness means not being alive on the inside. Those who are wicked may act like they’re alive but it’s just a show.

How focused are you on the life of your heart? How is your soul getting along? Are you experiencing true joy and peace? Are you experiencing freedom or bondage? The worst mistake any of us could make would be to neglect our hearts in the pursuit of external success. God cares so deeply about you and he wants you to be truly alive. The first step to moving in that direction is acknowledging the problem. What’s your next step?

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The art of silence

silence

Because I have the gift of communication and generally enjoy speaking, being silent is a discipline for me. Proverbs 10:19 says…

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.

Why do the prudent hold their tongues? What is so dangerous and foolish about talking all the time? To answer these questions I believe we must dig beneath the surface. Wisdom and folly don’t necessarily lie in the quantity of the words that we speak but rather in the quality of the words that we speak. In order to speak words that have quality, we must be strong in listening to God and to people.

God is the author of wisdom and prudence so we cannot hope for either if we refuse to listen to God. Admittedly, listening to God is a difficult subject if you approach it in authenticity. People who flippantly claim to hear God speak on a regular basis make me nervous. That being said, God is a good Father who wants to speak to his kids and it is therefore upon us to seek to listen to him.

Listening to people…this can be tough. It’s one thing to listen intellectually but another thing to listen with our hearts. We cannot hope to speak with wisdom if we refuse to listen to people with our hearts. Listening to people like this requires that we have an openness or a capacity to listen to people. The trouble with capacity is that most of us have so much going on inside that we have very little room to listen deeply to others.

People who talk a lot and don’t listen demonstrate that they really don’t have much to say. Not talking doesn’t guarantee that we have a lot to say but it may be an indication that we do. What is the goal in a conversation for you? To be heard? To be understood or to understand? These questions and others like it are worth considering if we want to add value to the lives of those around us.

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End the poker game

poker

Have you ever met someone who always seemed like they were up to something? The reality is that it is human nature to hide. So much of life for so many people is lived like a poker game. You never want to reveal your cards and you always have an agenda. I’m working through Proverbs and Proverbs 10:18 says…

Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.

What are you up to? What am I up to? The reality is that at some point we will all be revealed for who we really are. Sometimes it happens in this life and it will absolutely happen in the next. Life is so much freer and relationships are so much better when the poker game stops.

Transparency is so much more liberating than always having an agenda. We can’t share everything with everyone, but we can live authentic and open lives with sincerity. Relationship with God cures so much of the deception because he sees everything about us. You can’t have a real relationship with God for very long and cling to deception and hidden agendas. Relationship with God breeds transparency.

What about you? Are you playing poker all day long? I guarantee you that life will be much better when we all lay our cards down and live with transparency.

 

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He loves you exactly as you are…

discipline

Just like most people, I like to do what I want to do and don’t want to be told differently. Having a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I understand this tendency all too well. I’m working through Proverbs and Proverbs 10:17 says,

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

When you submit to God as your Father, you have someone leading your life who is completely unhindered when it comes to his point of view. You also have someone in charge of your soul who could not love you more than he already does. You also have the security of knowing that your Heavenly Father has all the power in the universe to carry out his will.

Most people seem to imagine that God agrees with them most of the time. This is a woefully inflated view of our own perspective and an astoundingly limited view of God’s perspective. Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This is God letting us know that he thinks in a realm that we can’t comprehend. This means that we should submit to his loving discipline in our lives.

For anyone who has ever experienced God’s discipline, you know that it doesn’t generally feel good. God is a great doctor and he is performing an ongoing operation on our hearts. I’ve heard it said before that “God loves us exactly as we are but too much to let us stay that way.”

I have to be honest and say that I don’t like God’s correction. I don’t like it when I’m wrong. I don’t like that I still have a long way to go. The more that we recognize that we are still works in progress however, the more quickly we’ll grow in our relationship with God.

Where is God calling you to grow? Where is there some tension between who you are now and who God is calling you to be? What does submission look like in this area?

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Life or Death?

life

Life in general does not usually feel like a huge deal. Today is just a Monday. The weekend is just the weekend. 2014 is just another year. The decisions that we have to make today may be somewhat important but they’re not life and death issues…or at least that’s the way it seems. I’m working through the book of Proverbs and Proverbs 10:16 says…

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

This passage is indicating a very distinct difference between the righteous and the wicked. Those who have been made right with God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and are therefore righteous make very different decisions from those who are living apart from God. We have the ability daily to choose life or death. In fact, those are our only two choices and we can’t choose not to choose.

The trouble is that we generally don’t realize the significance of our choices until it’s too late. In a moment, you have the ability to choose worry or trust. In a moment, you have the ability to choose to gossip about or support a friend. Every day you have the ability to choose lust or fidelity. You can choose to lie or tell the truth….to do the right thing or keep silent….to cut corners or have integrity…to lose your temper or show self-control. These are the decisions of every day and they are life and death decisions.

There are people who are still living who died a long time ago. There are also people who are alive now but they used to be dead in their sins. It’s moment to moment decisions that change things deep within our hearts.

How is your heart right now? Really? We live in a culture that prioritizes outward appearance over internal well-being but this is completely backwards. If you’re alive on the inside, everything will flow out of that. If you’re dead on the inside, nothing else in your life will matter. When was the last time you made a decision that prioritized the well-being of your soul? I love the quote that says, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” This means that living for God and being fully alive go hand in hand. John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s Jesus speaking and he’s telling us that it’s his desire that his kids live full and abundant lives. This life is accessible to believers but we must choose it. Choosing that life generally doesn’t come in one monumental decision but rather in hundreds of small decisions that add up.

What do you need to do to choose life today?

death

 

 

 

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In God we trust

security

One of the deepest human needs is to have a sense of security. All of us want to feel like we’re on solid ground. The real issue however, is where we seek that security from. I’m working through Proverbs and Proverbs 10:15 says…

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

This proverb is very interesting. I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand the intent of the author, but I do have some ideas. In some ways, wealth can be a fortified city. There is no denying the fact that having significant financial resources provides a certain amount of buffer between you and the storms of life. That being said, monetary wealth does not equate to security in life. The reason for this is that wealth can go away. Now more so than ever people understand that the economy can change quickly. If wealth is our only hope for security, we will surely be left wanting.

“…poverty is the ruin of the poor.” Poverty is simply defined as being without adequate food and money according to the Dictionary. There are two kinds of poverty that I can think of that really determine how we see this proverb. Sometimes people are lacking because of really bad decisions that they keep on making. These people are not victims and while you may be able to argue that they are a slave to their own bad habits, they are responsible for seeking growth when it comes to time and financial management. There is another kind of poverty that is far more heartbreaking. This is the kind of poverty where people simply don’t have enough food, water, money and shelter because of factors far outside the realm of their control. There just isn’t enough rain. There isn’t a reliable water source. There aren’t enough animals to feed the tribe. You get the picture. This is the kind of poverty that the Church must rally behind. As Christians, we should not be OK with many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world dying because of preventable factors.

Even with how fleeting wealth is and how horrible real poverty is, true security is not found in the presence or absence of wealth. True security can only be found in God. As our Pastor at Seacoast sometimes says, I’ve never seen a U-Haul following a hearse. None of us can take our stuff with us. The old saying that “he who dies with the most toys wins” couldn’t be more wrong. True security comes from knowing that we are God’s children. It comes from knowing that he has our present life and the next life bound up in the palm of his hand. It is only there that we can find a sense of confidence and peace that transcends the transiency of this life.

Where do you find your sense of security?

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