January 19 – Straight as an Arrow, Sharp as a Tack

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I hate an argument. No, I am not proud of it, but I have been known to tuck tail and run right out of the room if I think people are fussing.

That’s not completely bad, but it doesn’t make for a stellar record in accomplishing greatness. That’s because all the big ticket items in life require different strokes from different folks!

My wife likes to call it “flags and flagpoles.” Particularly in the covenant of marriage, the good Lord tends to put “opposites” together.

I’ve learned when God’s got something big for you, he has someone specifically designed to sharpen you up for pin-point accuracy.

Did I say I hate an argument?! But I love the bullseye!

Advertisements

January 16 – Fat Cats

One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Proverbs 27:7

I had a bunch of well-to-do kids in my cabin once who didn’t seem to prefer any of the good food coming out of the kitchen. Every day they complained and protested.

I just smiled. I knew what was about to happen.

This same group of young men elected to participate in a three-day wilderness excursion. We would hike, climb, bathe in the river, sleep under the stars and eat over a camp fire. They thought the trip sounded great.

We left out early, right after breakfast, and most of them did their usual “picky bottom” routine and didn’t get much to eat. By the time we got to our destination and had camp set up, it was lunch time and my boys were hungry. But since we were roughing it, lunch was a piece of fruit, a handful of raisins, some nuts and a granola bar. They killed it!

The afternoon activity consisted in a five-mile hike up the side of a mountain and several hours of repelling.

Our dinner that night was campfire burritos with no fancy fixings. But you would have thought these guys had died and gone to heaven. We had some picante packets for them to give it a little flavor, but the burritos didn’t last that long. I still laugh about that!

Hunger is a necessity when plenty has devoured the will to want, to work, to appreciate, to honor. History is littered with great men, great women, and great nations that have it so good, they get fat and fail to remember what got them there.

This isn’t the work of the Father. If we stay intimately connected with Him and His way of doing things, He will make sure a humble dose of “hungry” is served up on a daily basis.

This is just because a real Father knows when you give a child all he wants, he never learns what he really needs has always been right there.

Lorenzo

January 14 – Let Your Life Do the Talking

Don’t call attention to yourself; let others do that for you. Proverbs 27:2

I watched the 2015 College Football National Championship game the other night. Time and attention had not called for much football watching the past year so I wasn’t up on all the facts.

Turns out, one of the teams reached this historic game by the skin of their teeth. Ohio State struggled with injury before and during their remarkable season in key areas and overcame notable setbacks.

Even though I had no allegiance to Oregon or Ohio State, when I heard the underdogs were being led by a third string quarter back who was starting in only his third college game, it got my attention.

Then I found out he was matched up against a young man who had won every possible award a quarter back is eligible for, including the highly revered Heisman Trophy.

If the rookie QB would have folded under the pressure of playing against such a respectable foe in the most important game of college football this season, nobody would have counted it odd or given him a hard time. The truth be told, three weeks prior to the big night, hardly anybody in the country knew his name.

But when the smoke cleared and the Ohio Buckeyes wound up on top 42-20, 89,000 plus fans in Dallas Cowboy stadium and the millions watching were all well acquainted with Mr. Cardale Jones.

What this young man does now that he is a household name remains to be seen. But in one of the most historical moments in College Football this decade, if not century, he exemplified today’s proverbial wisdom.

He went out and did his job! That’s impressive and noteworthy. And everybody else is doing the talking.

January 13 – Every Breath You Take

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. Proverbs 27:1 MSG

At the close of the year, I start making plans for the upcoming one. I do my little recaps and jot down what I am going to do differently this New Year. And most of the time, I get up on the first or second day and all that I planned is in full swing in my heart.

But rarely does it ever play out in reality like I thought.

Plans are good and goals are essential and wise. But when you don’t own the car, where you plan to go in it is susceptible to change. It’s humbling to admit, but nonetheless, we don’t own the breath we breathe or the bodies in which we take that next breath. God does.

And even if we choose not to accept it, our bodies are going to partake of their fair share of oxygen whether we believe in breathing or not.

Therefore, today, I stop and acknowledge my Creator and rightful owner of my soul. And in love and appreciation, humbly submit my ideas for the day and gratefully accept what He already had in store.

January 12 – Not Without Nelly

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. Proverbs 26:20

My sis and I grew up watching Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie. I loved the show but almost every episode I’d get ticked at Nelly Olson. That chick was always stirring up some kind of mess, but nobody seemed to want to put her in her place because her Mama was ten times worse.

Part of my extreme frustration with the “Nelly” character stemmed from having my very own at school. I had a classmate in those days who could have taught little Miss Olson a thing or two about the art of “busybody-ness and tattle-telling.”

Every single day of fifth and sixth grade she seemed to torment me. Anything I said got misconstrued and all that I did, she had something to say about it. And because I wasn’t good at arguing diplomatically back when, I would just get mad, then get in trouble, and she come away looking squeaky clean.

One day, however, that all changed. She crossed the line and stirred up a hornet’s nest that just about shut the school down. Police were called and potential criminal charges were being discussed. Several little boys narrowly avoided unjustified consequences.

So it was then when I learned one of the wisest strategies in dealing with a “Nelly.” First, I have to be willing to recognize what is happening. Then, I have to prevent myself from taking his or her accusations personally (no emotional response.) Then I make myself speak well of them, no matter what. Why, you say? In doing so, I give them absolutely no “wood to burn!”

That’s been over thirty years ago and I still struggle with a Nelly from time to time. But in that time frame, I have worked to build some healthy relationships and even call some “friend.”

“Nelly’s” are here to stay, so get a game plan. Underneath all of that “persnickety” you might find a really cool person!

December 9 – I’ll Try It, Coach!

“Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into a hand of a drunken man, so is a proverb in the mouth of [self-confident] fool.” Proverbs 26:9

When I was 8 years old, I played on a softball team that was organized by the church for whom my dad was working. This team was made up of all kinds of girls from all kinds of places; from Nichols Hills (a wealthy suburb) to the North Highlands (a lower income area) to everything in between.

But out of all of those different lifestyles, I was the homeschooler with an African-American dad and a Caucasian mother with more than two siblings. So I seemed to stick out the most! And guess how many girls were like me on our team? Only one. Me. It also didn’t help that I was one of the smallest ones!

Then came the day when we had to decide on a catcher. Of course, most of the bigger girls were going on and on about how they were the “bravest” and telling us “little ones” to step aside. Oh, and I forgot to add that this was machine-pitched softball. Same speed. Same direction. Every time. So, one of the main girls that had quite a “mouth” declared for all to hear that she was going to be our new catcher.

On the first pitch, she missed it, and the ball hit her on a spot on her leg that didn’t have any padding (this was because she didn’t squat low enough). She looked like she had seen a ghost! In the middle of the next play, she ran over to the dugout, crying, “I want out, coach, I want out. I’m gonna die! ” The coach was stuck between a girl too scared to carry on, and everyone else giving him nothing but “no” for an answer…. until my little voice broke out, “I’ll try it.” I think he was too desperate to question my size, but my dad, being the assistant coach, assured me that I would be fine, and showed me how to stand.

I will admit, those first few pitches were a little startling, but I was glad I was able to help the team go on and finish that game and the rest of the season. The “smack” talk started to cease, and I eventually gained a little more respect from the bigger girls.

It’s funny how we can get carried away by trying to make such a good impression for ourselves that some times we find we have bitten off more then we can chew….literally! I know I’ve found myself wondering many times why I hadn’t kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t need to try to get out of the mess I created! But I have come to realize that if we’re repentant, God will send that something or someone to help show us the “thorn.”  Then we can do the surgery needed to get it out!

Hannah 🙂

January 8 – Don’t Be Cruel

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. Proverbs 25:21-22 MSG

I developed a bad habit when I was growing up of putting myself down. My thinking was then it wouldn’t hurt so badly when the other kiddos made fun of me. I beat them to it.

But that created a constant scrutiny and negative attitude within. So in order to break free, I started changing what I said about myself and forced my mind to build new images.

I think this is more common than we might realize…the enemy is on the inside of me! And when left unchecked, the condition can prove fatal.

Amazingly, the same feelings of ridicule and rejection we feel toward somebody that we don’t get along with (an enemy) can translate into ill feelings toward ourselves in the areas we “don’t like.”

And as far as God is concerned, the right to draw up battle lines against ourselves or anybody else is sad, and quite frankly, just plain mean.

No matter how much that thing about you or that person gets on your nerves, there is rhyme and reason for it. And if you let Him, the One who loves you most will teach you marvelous things about yourself through the very things you cannot stand.

Like a fresh glass of iced tea in the summer is kindness toward an unkind situation. Pour a cupful of mercy toward others, and don’t forget to pour one for yourself!