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Archive for May, 2012

It’s time to take our vacation, so I’ll be on the road for a week. Looking forward to a May 21 return that is refreshed and refocused.
God bless you all!

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some women are gifted for putting on just enough jewelry to provide a lucious visual enhancement to their appearance.

And then there are other women who look like they took jewelry lessons from Mt. T.

Often, it’s not the abundance of jewelry that impresses but instead the discreet, singular choice that enhances the look.

Skilled real estate agents know this, of course, and that’s why less is more when it comes to stuff on a kitchen counter or clutter in a bedroom or potted plants on a porch for the house being sold.

This same notion of quality in choices rather than quantity is also demonstrated in the spiritual realm.

My devotional reading this morning included Proverbs 15:2, an insightful verse that says this:

“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

I like the word choice of “adorns.” It’s vivid and points to the communication artistry of a word aptly spoken. In Proverbs 25:11, King Solomon said such words are like apples of gold placed in settings of fine silver.

Wise people don’t shotgun their words at people and hope one of them hits the target.

Instead, they aim carefully and only pull the communication trigger when they are confident they are going to hit the target.

When people know us as careful, wise communicators, what we say will be seen as knowledge, rather than as a bunch of shotgun pellets fired from the mouth of a fool.

Please join me in reading the Bible daily and praying for wisdom in understanding it. When God stirs our hearts to share efficiently from its pages, our words will be seen as knowledge, not noise.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m glad that my God is hungry for loving worship, not a bale of hay.

I read one of those verses this morning that jumps off the page when you see it.

They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass” (Psalm 106:20)

I thought about all the times described in the Bible when Old Testament Israel fell into idol worship, beginning in the wilderness just after they were delivered from Egyptian bondage via the miracles of God.

It’s mind-blowing, actually, to see how quickly the Hebrews repeatedly dumped God in favor of the floozy, you-can-do-whatever-feels-good worship of manmade gods they encountered along their journey.

The passage above, of course, refers to the ridiculous, rebellious choice of Aaron and the Hebrew masses to desire and worship a golden calf hurriedly crafted while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments and other laws for living.

What Aaron did at the people’s urging was so stupid and sinful.

I’m still shocked that he fell into the peer pressure, ego-boosting trap set for him by Satan.

Aaron had seen firsthand the miraculous intervention of God and now he was leading worship cheers of the crowd for a chunk of gold shaped like a young bull?

Are you kidding me?

A bull that eats grass?

How is that divine?

Lest we become too comfortable pointing fingers at Aaron, it’s important that we examine ourselves.

Do we place too much importance on things that don’t thive on praise but instead require physical “food.”

OK, so we don’t worship animals that eat grass. But do we worship things that eat gas?

If you have a gas-eater that is taking time and money away from your worship of the glorious God, particularly on Sunday morning, then you’ve got some changes to make.

Perhaps your “bull” doesn’t eat gas, but it does eat cash in the form of a borderline obsession with new shoes or purses or costly, monthly grooming perks or anything else that you rely on to feel good about yourself or to impress others.

Listen, we all have to constantly check ourselves to see if our hearts’ loyalties are being drawn to gods that eat stuff.

Let’s worship only the God who hungers for worship, not “grass.”

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are some people in our lives who are closer to the model of Psalm 106:3 than are we.

We and everybody in our lives will be better off if we become more like the people above.

Yes, Psalm 106:3 is that important.

And here’s what it says:

“Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”

There aren’t many people we know who fit this description. Why? Because the temptation to choose self over others is very strong.

At work, the temptation to loaf during time for which we’re being paid is very strong, particularly if accountability measures are lacking.

Or we might fall into the trap of retributive gossip about one who spread rumors about us.

At home, we might have fired a cheap-shot insult toward a spouse or teen child because we were too lazy to look at an issue from a perspective other than our own.

At church, we might have cut back on our tithes and other offerings because we want to save money for a much-desired toy or trip or new outfit.

The list of potential ways to do wrong is endless.

But so is the list of potential ways to always do what is right.

Obey the 10 commandments.

Live according to the Beatitudes.

Demonstrate the characteristics of spiritually fruitful living shown in Philippians 4:8-9.

Apply the Golden Rule to every human interaction.

There really are very few occasions when we don’t know the best path to take an intersection of choices. Instead, it’s almost always clear at home or work or school or church which fork in the road is going to better please God and help others.

Prepare yourself for receiving blessing, my friend.

Always act justly.

Always do what is right.

And pray that I do the same.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s something for which I believe we all have room for improvement.

I’m talking about emotional intelligence.

I’m talking about the awareness of how others are feeling, of what has contributed to that status and of what we can do to help them to feel encouraged.

This is particularly important when it comes to building influence in others’ lives.

We all have memories of times when we had the emotional intelligence of a brick and our words or actions — or both — poured salt on wounds rather than healing.

And, of course, we can recall when others did the same toward us.

Listen, being sensitive to others’ feelings is an important thing.

Particularly when that person is a member of our biological or spiritual family.

I read today of an emotionally intelligent man who lived more than 3,000 years ago.

His name was Elkanah and he was the husband of Hannah.

You can read his story by clicking here, but here’s the gist.

Although Elkanah was polygamous, something God didn’t like but allowed in that day, Elkanah’s heart belonged more to Hannah than to his other wife Peninnah. As you read the passage, you’ll see why Peninnah was hard to love.

Elkanah knew that Hannah’s heart was hurting because of her barren womb and that Peninnah’s mean-spiritied words were making it worse.

Yet, Elkanah also knew that Hannah had always demonstrated godly character and humility, despite the deep void in her emotions.

Like so many men today, Elkanah’s heart was strongly drawn to Hannah because she was such a good person in the midst of bad circumstances.

He knew that Hannah was struggling, that he loved her deeply because of how her character and kindness moved his heart and so he poured extra blessing into her life in order to demonstrate his appreciation and kindness to her.

I’m sure that the overflowing statements of love were very meaningful to Hannah.

I’m confident that the godly Hannah saw the blessings from her husband as ultimately having come from the Lord as a sign of His favor.

The day came, of course, when Hannah gave birth to Samuel and, true to form, Elkanah was supportive of Hannah’s pledge to dedicate the boy to lifelong ministry once he was weaned.

It’s a beautiful story, of course.

There is no doubt that Elkanah’s emotional intelligence played a huge role in sustaining Hannah during the dark days of barrenness made worse by a mean-spirited Peninnah.

Please, my friend, ask God to make you more aware of how others are feeling, of what has contributed to that status and of what you can do to help them to feel encouraged.

This just might be the help they need to get through a discouraging season before God pours a huge blessing into their lives that will minister to many, many other people in a mighty way.

As always, I love you
Martin

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When you hear the tires hitting the reflective, warning bumpers on the edges or center line of the road surface, you’d better get your car centered in your lane real fast.

If you don’t, BIG problems just might happen that will permanently mess up your life and perhaps the lives of others.

We’ve all hit those bumpers, of course, at one time or another because we’ve grown drowsy or — God forbid — while texting.

Thank God for those warning bumpers.

They perhaps have saved our lives and the lives of others.

God places warning bumpers in our spiritual paths.

When we hit them, whether they be the consequence of embarrassment for some selfish act or the consequence of being confronted by one we’ve offended, we are to get out lives back in the middle of God’s path for living.

If we ignore them, only bad happens.

Maybe not immediately, but it will eventually.

It’s the law of the harvest.

For generations after entering the Promised Land, the level of attention to teaching Hebrew children about God’s Word eroded and eroded.

God provided significant warning bumpers along the way in the form of oppressing, pagan armies that tormented the children of Israel until they would finally repent and cry out for heavenly help.

The merciful Jehovah raised up deliverers from among the Hebrews and peace was restored as the pagans were kicked out.

Israel stayed between the lines for awhile after each delivering leader.

But then they began to ignore the “thump, thump, thump” heard within their consciences as — like dogs returning to their vomit — they returned to idolatrous, immoral behavior like those around them.

Perhaps the most disgusting example of why ignoring the warning bumpers was SO bad is found in Judges 19-20. It is absolutely horrific and mind-blowing. I’m not going to explain the detail. You’ll have to read it for yourself and can do so if you click here.

After you read it, you’ll be reminded of why it is SO important that we don’t ignore the first “thump” as something that doesn’t matter.

We cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the words of warning given us by the Holy Spirit or other believers.

If we fall into that trap of Satan, if we start thinking that we can steer clear of danger while driving on the other side of the center line or on the edge of a cliff, we’re fools heading toward all sorts of disaster.

Just look what happened as men in Israel lost sight of God’s original plan for monogamous marriage between a man and a woman who loved God.

Pray for our nation, please. And pray that you and I never ignore the “thump, thump, thump.”

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s a guaranteed way to receive blessings from God.

It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed are those who are kind to the needy.” (Proverbs 14:21)

If you’re mad at somebody, please make the choice to lay your frustration at the foot of the cross.

For that anger isn’t helping you to help others.

Once unencumbered by that “bag of rocks,” you can start carrying blessings into the lives of people in need.

God will see your change of heart and change of direction and will start sending blessings your way so that you might share them with others.

Perhaps we’re limiting our financial blessings from God because we’re limiting the grace that we show others, whether forgiveness toward those who offend us or benevolence gifts for those who have less than us.

Forgive.

Give.

That’s what God says will open the fountain of blessings to us.

It’s a promise that I need to embrace. I pray that you will, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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