February 21 – On Time

punctual 

Jen and I had been married a couple of years when I took a position as a youth coordinator in our community. My primary focus was a junior leadership council with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. That’s just a fancy way to say I was teaching a group of youngsters leadership skills through running a t-shirt and mug business. I found out pretty quickly I was over my head – I didn’t know the first thing about shirts or mugs.

Thankfully, I met a wonderful local merchant who was interested in working with us as a partner. As time clicked on, we started making progress. Orders were rolling in and I found myself spending a majority of my time down at her store. That part was great. But what I didn’t realize was how often I would tell Jen I was “on my way home” and didn’t actually leave for another thirty minutes or so (i.e., until I finished what I was working on).

So one day, the owner of the store (who was and is a dear friend) said, “How does your wife feel about you telling her you are on your way and you don’t leave here until quite a bit later?” I thought to myself, “Jen understands I’m working. She knows I don’t mean to be late.” I’m sure I had a puzzled look plastered across my face as I told her I didn’t know how Jen felt about it. She encouraged me to ask her. So I did. I will never forget that day. With tears in her eyes, Jen communicated to me that she had been praying God would somehow help me understand how much it means to her for me to be on time. “If you’re not sure when you’ll be here, just tell me.”

Because I am a “one-task-at-a–time” person, I often find it a challenge to break away and move on to the next assignment. And thus, punctuality is always a constant work in progress. But that does not excuse its importance. God is all about timeliness. Now, don’t misunderstand, He controls the clock! Things might not happen when you think they should, but it won’t be because He’s late. And as for you and me, one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of punctuality—be on time. If you are like me, don’t beat yourself up if you know your struggle, just receive the correction and get going in the right direction!

The Character First I WILL’s for Punctuality:

I WILL be at the right place at the right time

I WILL prepare for unexpected delays

I WILL do my work ahead of time

I WILL plan a daily schedule and keep it

I WILL not fall into the trap of “just one more”

God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time. Generous to a fault, you lavish your favor on all creatures. Psalms 145:14-16 Message Bible

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:1a There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

 

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February 11 – Soul Virtue

how-to-renew-body-mind-soul

Growing up, I had some favorite television programs I hardly ever missed because they kept me “in stitches.” But a funny thing happened after we started having kids. Those shows weren’t quite as funny as they were when I was young. I had never recognized their off-handed immoral flavor before. I had changed. I began looking with a different set of eyes. Daddy eyes.

God used this television lesson years ago to awaken me to the necessity of guarding the gates of my soul. Every person has five physical senses (taste, touch, smell, hear, see) that serve as their “information receptors.”

Whatever comes through our senses goes directly to the station where data is stored and processed (the Mind.) From there, the Mind shares it with the Emotions to see what kind of vibes they pick up. And then, the Will issues its “yes or no” vote on the matter. There you have the soul in motion.

In my estimation, the greatest need today is not one of spiritual revival, but of soul renewal. In a lot of ways, this is harder. Spiritual rebirth comes by way of a free gift given by God. Through the precious blood of Jesus, the penalty of sin is washed away for all who believe (Romans 10:9-10, Colossians 1:21-22).

But if you and I are going to see any changes in our attitude or appetites, we will have to cultivate the changes ourselves. This is very similar to our physical health. If I want to avoid the “dunlap” disease (my gut “done lapped” over my pants), I have got to pay strict attention to my shape and my plate.

This is why a couple of congregational worship meetings during the week can only be the beginning of our training. They serve only as a catalyst to what is required daily. Your Soul (Mind, Will and Emotions) is like your belly, it’s always craving something to eat. If you do not master what it takes in, its cravings will master you. And if it does not get a daily dose of vitamin “W” (The Word of God) it can’t properly assess what it needs.

If your relationship with God means anything to you, ask yourself this question: Am I feeding my soul enough of God’s Word daily? Don’t get religious. You don’t have to hide out in the farthest corner of your house all day long feverishly reciting scripture.

Just make God’s Word the standard that governs all other thoughts and ideas presented to your soul. If you will, your soul will begin to take on a virtue you’ve never known before. And like a well-conditioned body, it will bring encouragement and motivation to others without saying a word.

 The Character First I WILL’s for Virtue:

I WILL do what is right and encourage others to do the same.

I WILL guard my eyes, ears, words, and thoughts.

I WILL learn to stand alone.

I WILL abstain from anything which might damage or pollute my mind or body.

I WILL treat others as I would want them to treat me.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 New International Version

 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 4:20-22

 

 

 

 

January 21 – Pay Attention

we-never-look-up

One of the attributes of the presence of God’s Spirit in an individual’s life is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So, when we spend daily time in prayer and in God’s Word, it is guaranteed that our flesh will “pitch a fit” from time to time.

It’s all because of our basic sin nature that wants to do what it wants to do when it wants to do it! And the only way you can tame this thing is to attend to God’s Word daily. If you take a day off from the Word, the next day that fleshly-sin nature will rear up when you least expect it!

Paying attention is a discipline that is in dire need of cultivation in all of our lives. We all live in a society that is bombarded with distractions flying at us by the second!

Take for instance, the handy, dandy, cell phone. Have you ever been in a meeting or just having an important conversation with an individual when all of a sudden, your cell phone rang? What happened?

Nine times out of ten, we answer the phone. Guess how I know? I have been that person more times than I care to admit! The bottom line remains, when someone is talking to you and you are attending to something else, that person doesn’t have your full attention!

 In the same way, when other matters have your focus and God’s Word is floating somewhere in the background, there’s no way for you to be sure what He is speaking to you. Here are some quotes from a wonderful curriculum we use in our family called Character First.

In the area of attentiveness, there are five “I Wills” that are necessary to show that we are being attentive:

I WILL look at the person speaking

I WILL ask questions when I don’t understand

I WILL sit or stand up straight

I WILL not draw attention to myself

I WILL keep my eyes, ears, hands, feet and mouth from distractions

If this would be our daily posture before our God and His Word, I’m sure we’d be amazed at the level of clarity by which He speaks!

 My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22 Amplified

 Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 5:1, 2 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.