Tag Archives: Wisdom

Diamonds and Pearls

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods.  Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father.  Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father.  It just isolates you from him.  The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.  1 John 2:15-16 (MSG)

God wants us to love one another! I had the privilege of having lunch with a sister who is new to the area and new to the church.  We spent time getting to know each other and musing about where God has us right now.  It was very obvious to me that we are two very different people who have intersected on the same path.  A cascade of thoughts led me to see that we are both gems in God’s eyes.  But I am a diamond and she is a pearl.

There are many of us who grew up in the era of re-engineering and on the mantra of “do more with less.” We flew the coup at 18, got a college degree, and turned pro.  We chased our dreams, pursued our careers, followed our first minds, raised our children, tracked our accomplishments, and leaned in to be all that we could be.  We hit the ground running and have not ever slowed down.  We pride ourselves on shining the brightest because we have done so much while under tremendous pressure.  We are the diamonds of our day.

He knows our value is driven by our rarity. As we gain seasoning, we come to realize the significance and the worth of our uniqueness.  Other factors that affect our value are easily remembered as the four Cs:

  • Color – We are known to keep a cool head even in the face of adversity because the spirit is with us.
  • Clarity – We know well the shallow nature of knowledge and information.  Through our experiences, we strive to learn to see things through the Father’s viewpoint and respond according to scriptural principles. We started out believing in this: 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As it says in the book of Job, God uses man’s own brilliance to trap him; he stumbles over his own “wisdom” and falls. 20 And again, in the book of Psalms, we are told that the Lord knows full well how the human mind reasons and how foolish and futile it is. (1 Cor. 3:19-20 – TLB) And have since learned this: 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure. That’s the most important thing about it. And that’s not all. It also loves peace. It thinks about others. It obeys. It is full of mercy and good fruit. It is fair. It doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. (James 3:17 – NIRV)
  • Cut – Although we are as flawed or fractured as the next persons, it is our cracks that allow light to shine through; the thing that gives us our greatest value to His people.
  • Carat weight – Bigger is not always better, but we seek to be worth our weight in Godly wisdom.

He built some of our sisters to bear different talents. They go about life, seemingly in a shell, living in the moment and embracing the production of one thing at a time.  They don’t spend energy multi-tasking or doing the things that create the pressures that made us.  They understand the beauty that can be made from a single grain of sand when it is surrounded by suppleness and gentility.  They have learned that size doesn’t matter.  They know that when there are lots of small heavenly treasures, each aligned perfectly so that light passing along the axis of one is reflected and refracted by the other to produce a tapestry of light and color, they have love.  Their nacre is not just a soothing substance, it is what surrounds them.  It is their community and they enjoy its people.  They are the pearls of their day.

A gem is a naturally occurring material desirable for its beauty, valuable in its rarity, and sufficiently durable to give lasting pleasure.  In all of our wanting, He has brought us together to help each other walk this path to eternity, while uniquely shimmering and shining light for others to see.  By living out our lives with each other, the magnetism of our opposing poles brings us closer together in Him.  The pressure of one and shell of the other illustrates and illuminates that so frequently the waters we wade in swell from the storms in our lives.  When the tide rises, we question God’s faithfulness as we wonder if He will let us drown.  Rather than standing up on the bedrock of faith with the confidence that He is with us and will save us when we call on His holy name, we give up as we set ourselves adrift in the murkiness and darkness of the heavy wake.  And then along comes His servants beside us to be His countenance in the face of difficulty.  They reach out their scarred hands and bring us in.  They tell us their harrowing stories of near death experiences and how they too were rescued by His ambassadors.  They feed us and warm us, then teach us and lead us to the foot of the cross.  In the right season, they meet us on this journey of life as they pray for us until we choose to believe in Him on our own.  They baptize us in His name and fast for us just the same.  They cheer for us as we gallop through the Garden of Eden and they weep for us as we are dragged through the Garden of Gethsemane.  They love us and show us we are not alone.  They meet with us and talk through issues with us, yet never breach a single bit of trust we placed in them.  Through them we learn: When private is not secret; When hugging is not holding back; When frankness delivers forgiving words; When His light shines through their cracks; When holding hands helps someone to hold on; When quiet knows the voice of reason; When we step outside our comfort zone, until He brings stillness to this season.

Caleb Colton once said, “Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm.”  Each gem is impacted by its environment.  We were each naturally formed by Him and given a path that leads back to Him, if we choose to follow it.  Once committed to it, we have a duty to bring all that we are because (as New Hope has taught): “Found People Find People; Saved People Serve People; Connected People Grow; Growing People Change; and Devoted People Give.” By working together, these values show.

God uses the mundane and the incredible that occurs in our everyday lives to teach us lessons and to hone our gifts to be used as blessings in the lives of others. Tell me what good God has done for you today?  Are you lost or looking for others?  Are you serving, connecting, or growing?  What have you given of yourself in His name lately?  When was the last time you reached out for someone or gave thanks for the same having been done for you?  Whether you are a diamond or a pearl or a gem of another sort, we are not our own when we serve Him.  My prayer for us today is: Lord, may we always want what You want for us and see what You see in others.  May we always be willing to give to Your children to help bring them home while keeping us close to You.  Please continue to provide us opportunities to share our gifts, embrace our differences, be blessings, and love Your people.  In our lifetime, may we discover as many gems as possible and bring them to You for Your glory, teaching each other not to want of the world but to hunger and thirst for You.  It is in Your Son’s name I pray this- Amen

I know I need You. I need to love You.  I’d love to see You but it’s been so long.  I long to feel You.  I feel this need for You.  I need to hear You.  Is that so wrong?  Tenth Avenue North – Times


Do Life Big

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde

To the many women in my life who have prayed for me this year: Thank you!  I have needed it, it has helped, and I am back.  The summer was rough but it is now behind us.  Fall is upon us and it is time to live in this moment.  Each day in the month of September has been better than the last.  When I awakened this morning, the first thought on my mind was the need to release the relentless thoughts of the challenges of the most difficult 42 days of the year.  There have been 215 other absolutely fabulous days in the same year.  I will not allow this difficult minority to haunt the fantastic majority any longer.  I made it through and am here now to press on towards greater things.

Our God has given us a spirit of courage and a charge to do life big.  There is much to accomplish in the vineyard and little time to get it done.  The growing season is behind us and the harvest is upon us.  Now is the time to dream big and dare to fail; throw caution to the wind and live out our purpose; leave isolation behind us and live out loud; abandon doubt and love boldly; press on and be optimistic.  Solitude is sinful when there are so many souls searching.  The glass menagerie, the ornamental exhibit of 42 captives, has shattered.  The pieces of pain have been laid at the foot of the cross, in an acknowledgment of what they are and an acceptance that we are not in it alone.   In His time, He will take what is left, multiply them, then divide them so they can be used for His glory.

The commentary in The Voice translation in 2 Corinthians 13 tells us, “Weakness looks like failure in the eyes of the world, but…weakness is an avenue to share in Jesus’ death and, therefore, in His life as well.  The challenge is to remain faithful even in the difficult times, even when there is no one left to provide support.  It is in these times that God’s power and comfort are most evident.  This call to embrace weakness and suffering is difficult.  It is normal to run from pain.  But the examples of Jesus in the Gospels, of Paul in his letters, and of David in the psalms are of finding God’s strength in times of weakness.”  “Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die… When in the midst of sorrow, you can’ t see up when looking down.  A brighter day tomorrow will bring.  You hear the voice of reason telling you this can’t ever be done.  No matter how hard reality seems, just hold on to your dreams.  Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win.  You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  Be optimistic!”  Sounds of Blackness – Optimistic

If anyone understood the harshness of this world, the Son of Man did.  He left His place in heaven and laid it all on the line just so we can live in eternity with Him.  His suffering was great and he paid the ultimate price for us.  Through it all, God was with Him.  Through His obedience, He fulfilled the scriptures so we would never be separated from Him again.

Mark 15:15-37 in part tells us, “15 When Pilate saw that he could not persuade the crowd to change its mind, he…had Jesus publicly whipped, which was the normal prelude to crucifixion.  Then he had Jesus led away to be crucified…17 They put a purple robe on Him and made a crown of thorns that they forced onto His head, 18 and they began to cry out in mock salute.  19 For a long while they beat Him on the head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down as if to honor Him.  20 When they had finished mocking Him, they stripped off His purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him.  Then they took Him away to be executed…24 And so they crucified Him, divided up His clothes, and cast lots (an ancient equivalent of rolling dice) to see who would keep the clothes they had stripped from Him.  25 His crucifixion began about nine o’clock in the morning…29 Those passing by on their way into or out of Jerusalem insulted and ridiculed Him…33 At noon, the day suddenly darkened for three hours across the entire land.  34 Sometime around three o’clock Jesus called out in a loud voice.  Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?  Jesus was speaking, as in the psalms, ‘My God, My God, why have You turned Your back on Me?’…37 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and He took His last breath.  38 At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The commentary from the VOICE translation of Mark 15 explains, “The tearing of the temple veil is a picture of what Jesus’ death has accomplished.  The temple sanctuary is divided into two sections: the holy place and the most holy place.  The most holy place is a chamber so sanctified that only the high priest can enter—and then only once a year.  There God’s presence is manifest on earth.  A long curtain divides the two areas, and at the moment of Jesus’ death it is torn in two.  The veil that serves as a means to protect everyone but the high priest from the power of God’s presence is no longer needed because Jesus, on account of His sacrificial death, gives everyone access to God.  Only God Himself can rip the curtain in two ‘from top to bottom,’ opening the way for people to come into His presence.”

Our God is with us from beginning to end, through all of our triumphs and trials.  What made the victory of conquering the mountain so sweet is that we traversed the valley first.  The climb was steep, intense, and arduous.  But we did it because we remained faithful and persevered with the support of others who believe in His vision.

Jesus came to earth and lived out His mission, which included many trials, challenges and difficulties.  His example was to go all out and to be all in without regard for how hard it might be.  The challenges of the summer taught me many lessons and I now know that they were each a blessing in disguise.  Through my weakness, I gained strength; because of adversity, I received wisdom; in my moments of despair, seedlings of hope blossomed.  “If things around you crumble, no you don’t have to stumble and fall.  Keep pushing on and don’t you look back.  I know that storms and strife cloud up your outlook on life.  Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired to reach higher and higher.  You’ll always do your best if you learn to never say never.  You may be down but you’re not out.  Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win.  You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child).  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  Be optimistic!Optimistic

11-13 And that’s about it, friends.  Be cheerful.  Keep things in good repair.  Keep your spirits up.  Think in harmony.  Be agreeable.  Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure.  Greet one another with a holy embrace.  2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Now that you know there is nothing standing between you and Him, what’s stopping you?  What is your calling in life?  Whatever it is, pursue it earnestly.  Leave nothing on the table and no room for regrets.  He is with you and your sisters are praying for you.  What power against you can prevail?  Now go get ‘em!  Whatever He is calling you to do, do it big.

 


From Breslau, with love

“On the question of relating to our fellowman – our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment.  Everything else we do is a means to an end.  But love is an end already, since God is love” – Edith Stein.

God created us to live in community with one another.  We are all souls created in His image.  He uses others to guide us and light the path beneath our feet – a path that leads back to the foot of the cross, a place of love.  In Home, Daughtry sums it up well with, “The miles are getting longer, it seems, the closer I get to you.  I’ve not always been the best man or friend for you.  But your love it makes true and I don’t know why.  You always seem to give me another try.  So I’m going home, back to the place where I belong and where your love has always been enough for me.  I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong; I don’t regret this life I chose for me.  But these places and these faces are getting old.  So I’m going home.” 

Last week I had the chance to speak with a mentor and friend from 35 years ago.  She is a woman of great wisdom, patience and insight who has a keen understanding of long-term investment.  In my formative years, she spent a lot of time imparting lessons on me that she knew very well I didn’t understand.  Nonetheless, she passed the information on with the determination to prepare me for my future, holding out hope that understanding would come.  Although my talents and gifting seemed light years away from coming together, she knew that time would pass quickly and seemingly in the blink of an eye, God would put those pieces together with dime-size precision.  When I look in the rear view mirror at that part of my journey, I see an assertive but confused little person, caught up in the fog of war, who lacked the ability to discern the Commander’s intent.  Having figuratively and literally been through war, she saw an enterprising pre-teen who would go on to do great things.

Our conversation was both intimate and inspiring.  As she did years ago, she repeated last week.  She filled my basket with more than I could consume in the moment, knowing that I would use it to feed the future.  Specifically, she reminding me that:

  1. Hope is a necessary virtue.
  2. Nothing here is ours.
  3. The Lord gives quiet assistance.
  4. My only cut card is love.
  5. We need time with Him to sustain working for Him.
  6. Do not concern yourself with what you may lose when there is so much to gain.

By the end of our conversation, I realized we were no longer the old lady and the girl, but rather two friends from different generations sharing similar experiences.  Her patience with me as a child taught me that there is something deeper than disagreement.  Her insights and experiences shared with me as an adult made me know there is something beautiful in connection.  Proverbs 3:13-18 tells us, “You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight.  She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary.  Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.  With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition.  Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete.  She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.  Hold her tight—and be blessed!” (MSG)

My reflection on the conversation drove home the notion that life’s journey is not a series of unplanned disjointed twists and turns, trips and blunders, setbacks and disappointments, triumphs and victories, and achievements and successes.  Instead, it is a highly planned, coherently organized movement of people, places, and things, designed to bring us back to Him.  God uses the bumps to slow us down and redirect us and the open-country road to build us up and encourage us.  Ellie Holcomb in The Broken Beautiful says it so well:  “I’m better off when I begin to remember how You have met me in my deepest pain.  So give me glimpses now of how You have covered all of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace.  Remind me now that You can make a way.  That Your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name; that You can take broken things, and make them beautiful.  You took my shame and You walked out of the grave.  So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful.  You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing; remove my sadness & cover me with joy.  You say your scars are the evidence of healing; that You can make the broken beautiful.”

Life is not a linear, even-paced walk.  We will stumble into the valley as much as we walk on the mountaintop.  When the going gets rough and forward progress seems like an impossibility, God doesn’t just tell us to find a way.  He makes one for us.  He places teachers, mentors, and sponsors on our path; people who light the way, hold our hands, sing praises of encouragement, and show us that “it” can be done.  He places them there to soothe our misplaced aggression, bandage our bruises, lighten our spirits, and give us wings to fly.

Like my teacher and friend (and her mentor), we are all built to be blessings to one another.  So get going!  Soar high and generously sprinkle His love on everyone you encounter.  Be a Godly teacher, mentor, or sponsor and friend in your next human engagement.  Share your story of God’s love and grace with those you meet.  Do so and your actions will teach people this:  “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.  The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion — pride and arrogance and crooked talk.  Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.  With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority.  I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.  Wealth and Glory accompany me — also substantial Honor and a Good Name.  My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.  You can find me on Righteous Road — that’s where I walk — at the intersection of Justice Avenue, Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!” (Proverbs 8:12-21 – MSG).  Thank you, my friend!


Rolling in the Deep, part II

As I look out over the ocean and watch the waves crash ashore, I wonder what makes them do that.  Although I could learn more from a book or online, I already know that the energy that drives them is deep-rooted and their power is strongly tied to their reason for existence.  This cascade of thoughts brought me back to the principle that “a person’s greatest place of pain is their greatest place of power and their area of weakness is their area of gifting.

After weeks of musing this notion, I have learned that deep-thinking, perception, introspection, reflection, and intuition are the stronger parts of my power center.  A calm demeanor and a warm, welcoming smile are spokes in my gifting wheel.  Speed and seeking results to the exclusion of relationships are certainly some of my weaknesses.  And pain, well we will get to that.

Although I believe there is much more searching to do in dark places to discover my treasures, the few I have found are helping me to uncover my purpose.  Based on what I know today, I believe a large part of my purpose is about loving His people.  As Force Family 5 tells us in Let it be Love, “I’ve never seen a soul set free through an argument.  I’ve never seen a hurt get healed in a protest.  But I’ve seen sinners turned to saints because of grace.  It’s love, love that lights the way – Love that lights the way.  Let it be our arms wide open, bigger than the words we’ve spoken.  Let it be our heart for the broken, If we’re gonna light, light, light the way to You.  Let it be love…Nothing but love…It’s love that lights the way.  It’s not about the stand we take, but the grace we give.  It’s not about the name we make, but the life we live.  Heard about a King who stepped down, took my place; True Love gave His life away.  It’s love that lights the way.”  

How are those talents unique?  How can they be used to achieve my purpose?  The answer begins with prayer and an intentional shift to a relationship orientation.   Galatians 5:13-14 tells us, “13 Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom!  Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love.  14 For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself,”” (The Voice)

Now….let’s examine this a little closer.  We’ve all heard it, “we were not built to be an island.”  Humans have an intrinsic desire for connection.  However, typically those that are closest to us hurt us the most.  How can we gain power from pain inflicted by those who claim to love and care for us?  Well, here is an example of how it may work:  an older relative teases us relentlessly about being overweight as a child (that’s a point of pain).  In our youth, we learn how to control our conditions and circumstances in extreme ways, i.e. over-eating, anorexia, bulimia, etc.  Thankfully through maturity, that control turns into positive influence – relating to, gently guiding, and teaching those around us to more constructive outlets (that’s power).

What about the connection of weakness to gifting?  For instance, speed like most other things, has a light and shadow side.  When it is used to blow past people for the purpose of preventing or controlling connections to other humans, it is a weakness.  For a while, this weakness seems to work in our favor because we move about unimpeded while capturing meaningless results.  Then illness or some other misfortune stops us dead in our tracks and we have to heavily rely on another.  In our stillness, we look into the eyes of our helper and connect with her.  She teaches us, through patience and grace, that we are all reliant upon each other in some way for something.  In the quiet of a night during our convalescence, we wrestle with the lessons given to us.  We roll a little deeper and begin to peel back the layers of emotions covered that caused us to speed through life so fast that the seal of feelings between us and those around us could not ever tighten.  What we learn in those dark moments is that we have a trough full of love, disguised as wisdom and ideas, that is eagerly and anxiously waiting to be shared.  Until that precious point in time, we simply were never willing to risk being vulnerable enough to examine the real truth.  Instead, we had relied upon the deception of fear (False Evidence Appearing Real), something that prevented us from giving away the gifts provided to us for the benefit of others.  Our biggest take away is that exposure doesn’t kill us, but instead makes of stronger.  Ecclesiastes 7:18-20 tells us, 18 Avoid both extremes.  If you have reverence for God, you will be successful anyway.  19 Wisdom does more for a person than ten rulers can do for a city.  20There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake.”  (GNT)

Let’s look at another example:  Someone close to us always uses a quixotic approach to life’s issues.  At every turn, there is a great hype at the presentation of another dream pursued.  Each pursuit causes continuous and major setbacks.  The ripple effect of the nostalgic impracticality causes the innocent to ride mediocre waves that violently crash ashore.  If this is our plight, anytime we feel the slightest bit of instability, we use the art of disengagement to prevent others from hurting us.  Unfortunately, life is full of rocky roads and unstable ground.  When we push back at the slightest hint of a tremor, we learn not to see relationships through (that’s weakness).  We never learn that tenacity or perseverance while loving others are tenets that are helpful to our lives.  As we move through life, we realize that others’ idealisms are medicated approaches to situations that lack meaningful connections and/or true sense of community.  The decisions made to eradicate loneliness turned out to be more like a seaward bound rip current – a powerful swell that grows while the ignorant and unsuspecting are violently tossed about in their wake.  To cope, we turn inward.  Others simply see a smile and don’t understand the emptiness and anguish behind it.  To the owner, it begs for relief.

Through reflection, we discover that a smile is worthless and deceptive if it is given without love and with an expectation of something in return.  On a leap of faith, we suspend judgment, slow down, smile, and ask a question of someone else that allows them to share authentically and connect with us.  Miraculously, we gain a new perspective on our gifting and we see love through different lenses.  Among the Thirsty says it so well in That’s what Love Looks Like, “Maybe it’s a Father working through the long night; maybe it’s a Mother trying to raise her kids right; maybe it’s a prayer on a long drive home.  Maybe it’s a soldier fighting on the front line; maybe it’s a preacher laying down his own life; maybe when You gave Your Son to die – That’s what love looks like.

So stick with me! I am definitely on a roll and am headed deeper than ever before.  I won’t promise that I will take you where no man has ever gone before, but I am committed to exploring this adventure fully.  Proverbs 2:1-11 says,“My son, if you accept what I am telling you and store my counsel and directives deep within you; If you listen for Lady Wisdom, attune your ears to her, and engage your mind to understand what she is telling you; If you cry out to her for insight and beg for understanding; If you sift through the clamor of everything around you to seek her like some precious prize, to search for her like buried treasure; Then you will grasp what it means to truly respect the Eternal, and you will have discovered the knowledge of the one True God.  The Eternal is ready to share His wisdom with us, for His words bring true knowledge and insight; He has stored up the essentials of sound wisdom for those who do right; He acts as a shield for those who value integrity.  God protects the paths of those who pursue justice, watching over the lives of those who keep faith with Him.  With this wisdom you will be able to choose the right road, seek justice, and decide what is good and fair 10 because wisdom will penetrate deep within and knowledge will become a good friend to your soul.  11 Sound judgment will stand guard over you, and understanding will watch over you as the Lord promised.” (VOICE)