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Tag Archives: Proverbs

  • Advantages to Accountability

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

    Accountability is a check and balance to assure the best decisions. It is a process of involving wise people in the decision-making process so all options are weighed and considered based on their probability of success. Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole.

    For example, we may want to aggressively grow our enterprise, but wise counsel  recommends we expand with cash, not debt. Pride may want to charge ahead and dismiss sound advice, while humility is willing to listen and wait on God’s provision. Clarity comes to those who weigh all options and wisely chose the best.

    “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).

    What decision do you face that requires waiting, not moving ahead half prepared? Perhaps in the process of dating a special person, you both decide at the beginning of the relationship to wait a year before you begin talking about marriage. This guideline protects you from making a rash decision you may later regret. Ask another couple to hold you accountable, as you do better when others are watching.

    Who is a trusted advisor in your life that can steer you with solid counsel? Surround yourself with those who don’t directly benefit from what they recommend you do. They are objective, free from the temptation of private gain, based on your public behavior. Accountability is the Lord’s instrument to protect you from the penalty of prideful decision-making. Mistakes will be made—but accountability minimizes them.

    “The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men [who had grown up with him v.10]” (1 Kings 12:13-14a).

    Accountability is Almighty God’s answer to you trying to figure out life alone. Do not waste time floundering around by yourself—moreover; avoid dangerous decisions by slowing down and discerning the right path for you. The Lord will lead you, if you listen to those who know you well and who want His very best for you. The greatest advantage of accountability is remaining in God’s will and not discrediting years of faithfulness. We do better when others are watching, so open up and let them see what God already knows.

    “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

    Prayer: What area of my life do I need to open up to the accountability of trusted advisors?

    Related Readings: Psalm 139:23-24; Proverbs 24:12; 26:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1

    Post/Tweet today: Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Quality of Life

    Posted on June 16, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20

    What does it mean to have quality of life? Good health? Harmony at home? A happy heart? Financial security? Freedom of speech and worship? A fulfilling career? Grateful and content children? A meaningful marriage? A life of significance? Peace with God? Probably some of these elements and more make up a life worth living—a quality life.

    Moreover, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. Who we spend time with is who we become. If we spend time with those wise in their finances, and if we pay attention, we can become wise in our finances. If we are intentional in our faith, we will worship with those of great faith. Our life is a reflection of our relationships.

    “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

    So, how is your relational portfolio? Are you diversified with people who bring value to all aspects of your life? Conversely, are you intentional to invest time and interest in those who look to you for guidance? Quality of life flows from not just receiving wisdom, but from giving wisdom. Wisdom works both directions for the good of the relationship.

    Furthermore, be careful not to excuse bad behavior, because you are trying to relate to questionable company. Draw a line far away from eroding your character’s creditability. You can influence others for good, without being bad. In some situations, what you don’t do defines you more than what you do. Use business trips and vacations to model faithfulness, not foolishness. Stand for what’s right—when others agree to what’s wrong.

    “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

    Above all, quality of life results from your relationship with Christ. He is life itself and everything good in life flows from Him. When you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus—it affects the growth of your other relationships. Relationship building in heaven, builds relationships on earth. Ultimately, Jesus is the life to model and follow. The resurrected life of Christ gives you the spiritual stamina to experience a quality life.

    “Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this'? 'Yes, Lord,' she replied, 'I believe…'” (John 11:25-27a).

    Prayer: Who are the wise people I spend time with? Am I investing in quality relationships?

    Related Readings: Psalm 56:13; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Philippians 2:1-4; 1 John 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • How Conflict Creates Connection for Couples

    Posted on June 10, 2014 by Dr. John Townsend

    Dr.

    "Wounds from a friend can be trusted ..." Proverbs 27:6a (NIV)

    When my wife, Barbi, and I were first married, we had conflicts about conflict. Looking back, it's kind of funny because I later went on to write a Christian relationship book called Boundaries in Marriage. Imagine watching us have boundary conversations about how bad our marriage boundaries were.

    Barbi's approach to conflict was to avoid it. My approach tended to be more blunt. We'd talk about a problem, and it wouldn't go well. One of us would misunderstand, we would pull away from each other and the problem wouldn't get solved.

    One day I asked Barbi, "When we argue, I never stop loving you. Is there anything I can do to make this better for you?"

    She thought a minute and said, "Maybe if you let me know you love me before you confront me, that might help."

    That was a good idea, so I agreed. The next time I wanted to have a talk with her about a concern, I walked in the room and said something like, "Honey, I just want to let you know I really care about you, and I hope you feel safe with me." Then when I brought up the problem, things went better for her and for us.

    This method of having successful conversations went on for a while. As time passed, however, something changed. I needed to bring up an issue, so I began with, "Honey, I just want you to know..." Barbi said, "Stop! It's okay. I know you love me; just get to the problem."

    We had a good laugh about it. Over time, she began feeling safe enough not to need reassurance before each conversation. She realized I loved her even in the midst of confrontation, and she was ready to go straight to problem solving.

    When God created marriage, He gave us one of His best gifts. He provided a permanent and safe connection for a man and a woman to experience love, joy, meaning and purpose together. Genesis 2:24 says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (NASB). God designed marriage to be a whole-person connection. This means that, more than in any other human relationship, every part of you ideally is to connect and cleave to every part of your spouse. The love you share should be complete as you intertwine your lives and emotions around each other.

    Because marriage is such a wonderful type of relationship, confrontation within the marital relationship is very important. Who is better qualified to understand and speak to someone about a problem than the person living life right next to him? You are intimately involved with him. You see the real person, imperfections and all. More than anyone, a spouse should be able to see what her partner's true problems are.

    Marriage is not about making each other happy; it is about growing and helping one's spouse to grow. Happiness can and does come to a good marriage. However, it is a byproduct of growth and life — not the goal.

    Confrontation brings empowerment, which is the ability to make choices and changes in your relationship. God created all of us to be change agents for each other. We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 5:11a says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (NIV).

    As Barbi and I have learned to confront each other lovingly, directly and effectively, we are often pleased in the change not only in our marriage but also in ourselves. We feel a sense of power that we can make changes and that we have choices. God designed all of us to connect and act, and confrontation helps put the "act" into the connection.

    Lord, thank You for the blessing of earthly marriage to display Your heavenly love for me. May I value marriage as all that You designed it to be. Help me move past seeking personal happiness and strive to develop growth in myself and my spouse. I trust You to guide my words and actions when conflict arises so that it can be an opportunity to connect in a deeper way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What can you tell your spouse today to help each other feel safer in the relationship?

    Common conflict issues may revolve around your responsibilities, money and tasks, but do not stop there. Set aside time to talk with your spouse about the relationship itself. This is where the marriage lives.

    © 2014 by Dr. John Townsend. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Generous Grandparents

    Posted on May 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22

    Grandparents have an opportunity to invest financial, emotional and spiritual capital into their children’s children. This return on investment may prove to be the most significant, if done prayerfully and proactively. Thus we pray, “How can I give to our grandchildren in a manner that blesses them the best, while honoring their parents and the Lord in the process?” Ultimately we trust God to take our generous gifts and use them to grow faithfulness for future generations.

    Therefore, our generosity is not a subtle scheme to control our desired outcome (no matter how noble it might be), rather the goal of our gifts is to be a catalyst for God’s will. Our role as grandparents is not to tell our adult children and grandchildren what to do, but to support them in what they do. They are their own persons, hopefully under the authority of the Spirit’s leading, so we bring the most lasting value when we value them over their chosen path to follow in life.

    “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

    Grandparents show respect when they confer with their adult children, before they give to their grandchildren. It could be as small a matter as a cream filled donut for breakfast, or as big an issue as opening a college fund. We ask permission before our big-hearted acts, so we have the full support of mom and dad. Well-meaning help will hurt if done outside the intentions of the parents. Next generation generosity is most effectively done in collaboration with our children.

    Most of all, invest spiritual capital into your grandchildren. Make sure your influence for the Lord is allocated heavily on the asset side of their spiritual balance sheet. Pray with them. Go to church with them. Read Bible stories to them. Share God examples of life change and answered prayer. Teach them old hymns while you feed the ducks. Having fun without instilling a faith influence is like taking a fevered child to the amusement park without offering any comfort or medication. Yes, your intimacy with Jesus is the most precious gift you can give your grandchild.

    “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me wisdom to know how to be the most generous with my grandchild.

    Related Readings: Genesis 48:11; Ezra 9:12; Psalm 128:6; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Timothy 5:4

    Post/Tweet today: Our role is not to tell our adult child what to do, but to support them in what they do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Pause Before You Pounce

    Posted on May 12, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed ..." Proverbs 31:26-28a (ESV)

    On a sunny spring day, I sat in my backyard with my friend Suzy and our kids. While we relaxed in lawn chairs, sipping lemonade, a few of the children played on the swing set. The rest sat at our bright yellow children's picnic table, purchased just days earlier. They were happily creating masterpieces on the pages of several coloring books.

    When it came time to serve lunch, I helped the children clear their coloring supplies off the table. As I grabbed the crayons and coloring books, I spied a frightful sight. One of Suzy's daughters had gone into the house and grabbed permanent markers to color with instead of the crayons. And colored with them she did – all over the brand new picnic table! She'd even written her name in her very best 7-year-old penmanship.

    I was angry that our newly purchased picnic table was now laden with red and purple permanent graffiti. I wanted to raise my voice and shout and scream my displeasure. But I didn't. Instead, I leaned over and gently spoke to my friend's child.

    "Oh, Kelly. Miss Karen wants you to use crayons when you color, not markers. Would you please go put them back in the house? Thank you, honey."

    My eldest child's jaw dropped when she saw how I reacted to the situation with kindness and a calm voice.

    Loud enough for everyone to hear, she said, "Man! It's a good thing it was you, Kelly, and not one of us. Mom would've hollered at us something awful if we'd done that!"

    Ouch.

    My daughter simply vocalized a truth she noticed in my life: I tend to lose my cool with my family, but somehow manage to keep calm when I interact with others.

    Today's key verse, describing the actions of the woman from Proverbs 31:26, states, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Can that be said of us? Or would a reality TV reporter capture the way we talk to our families and announce, "She snaps with caustic words, and 'Why can't you this?' and 'You should have that!' rolls angrily off her tongue."

    When communicating with others, it appears this woman in the Scripture Hall of Fame was careful to speak in a way that honored and glorified God. In the Amplified Version of the Bible, which is rendered as close to the original language as possible, Proverbs 31:26 reads, "She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]."

    "Kindness."

    The tone of voice you'd use with a stranger.

    Friendly, not feisty.

    And the words, "giving counsel."

    Counsel is giving advice and guidance in a gentle but direct way that helps the person who's seeking the instruction. Counsel is not barking. Counsel is not belittling. Counsel is not filled with superlatives like "Why can't you ever _____?" and "See, you never _____!"

    I faced the music that day and owned up to the truth my child pointed out: I tend to extend grace to those outside my family — even complete strangers — while so easily snapping at the people within my home.

    Yes, there are times we must instruct and correct our families. Yet when we do, we should be conscientious and kind while giving counsel. It's not always easy, but God is always available to help me not to be controlling, complaining or critical.

    Perhaps we would all do better to learn to pause before we pounce when interacting with our loved ones, treating them with the respect we tend to give others. Or better yet, to pause, pray and then not pounce at all!

    Dear Lord, I want to run my home well, but as I seek to do so, help me to pause before I react, to ensure my words and actions are pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

    Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Was there ever a time when you barked at your family about how things were done around your home? What happened?

    In retrospect, how could the situation have been handled differently?

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Losing This Battle is Not an Option

    Posted on May 2, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon

    "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

    By the time our daughter Heather turned 2, all my prideful pre-parenting thoughts had come back to me. How many times had I unfairly judged another mama and promised myself my kids would never act like that?

    You know that behavior: flailing around in their mother's arms, pitching a fit on the grocery store floor or throwing a tantrum in line at the movies. However, my daughter's strong will was unrelenting. She tried my patience constantly ... and often acted like that.

    I'll never forget one particularly difficult night. It had been a long grueling day of battles, and it was bedtime. (Praise God for bedtime.) Heather had hurt her baby sister, so I told her to apologize. She refused.

    Everything in me wanted to just put Heather to bed, but I knew I couldn't let this go. So in a stern voice, I told her, "Go to your room and I'll meet you there." Thankfully, she obeyed and walked to her bedroom.

    I thought a battle had been avoided ... until she looked back at me with that iron will glaring. She stood there with one foot in the room and one foot in the hall.

    "Get in your room, Heather." My tone meant business, but she wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, I'm just too stinking tired for this.

    At that point, I remembered Proverbs 3:11-12, a verse I memorized before Heather was born: "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."

    As I weighed my choices, the Lord spoke to me through that verse. And I knew He was saying: Losing this battle is not an option. I took a deep breath and decided no matter how long it took, I would not allow Heather's disobedient will to triumph over my exhaustion. I loved her too much.

    She finally sat down, half in the room, half out. And I joined her in the hall. We stayed there for hours that night. I wasn't mad, just determined. My daughter would know after this night that her mama means what she says. There was no TV. No toys. Not even a scrap of paper to draw on.

    While she sat, I folded laundry, paid a few bills and made my grocery list — in between asking if she wanted to apologize. Her eyes were getting heavy, and I knew she wanted to win the battle, but I remained firm.

    Finally, three hours after her bedtime she apologized to her sister and to me. I kissed her goodnight as I tucked her in bed; she hugged me and smiled like I was the greatest mom in the world. All was good in our home, at least for that night.

    That wasn't our last battle. But over time they became fewer and fewer as I consistently disciplined my children, just like the Lord disciplines those He loves. Why? Because He longs for us to be wise, to avoid making harmful mistakes and to grow in His grace. That's what I want for my five daughters.

    I spent a lot of time in prayer and sitting in doorways as my girls grew up. Each one was different from the other, each requiring a different form of discipline. They're grown up now, and I'm delighted to say that Heather and her sisters love the Lord and walk in His ways.

    I love my children and know they are worth all the time invested in the disciplining. Even the many long, sleepless nights.

    Lord, I need You more than ever. I need Your strength, wisdom and leading to raise my children up in the way they should go. Help me! I feel inadequate most days. I know that through You I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Raising children takes a lot of mental, spiritual and physical bandwidth. Are there things in your schedule you could delete that would give you greater ability to parent well?

    Are you consistent in disciplining? Do you follow through with the rules? Do you discipline in love? Write a list of things you need to work on to be the parent God calls you to be.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 29:17, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Turning Worry Into Worship

    Posted on April 16, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

    I think I have the worry gene. And I'm sure I got it from my mother. She passed down her aqua blue eyes to me, her slightly-crooked smile and her tendency to worry.

    This trait didn't show up when I was younger. In fact, when I was a teenager, I thought it strange that my mom couldn't go to sleep until I got home. Then, I had teenagers of my own, and now I do what she did: sit on the couch appearing to watch television, while my mind rehearses the quickest route to the hospital, or perhaps even plans a funeral.

    Before I had children, I didn't understand the stories my mom shared about her concerns for my health. When I was a toddler, she took me to the doctor because I kept falling when I walked. After observing me play in his office, he assured her that my mind was working faster than my legs. I wanted one object and headed toward it, but then changed my mind and wanted something else.

    You'd think the story would have calmed my own fears when I became a mom. Not so. When my first-born was more than a year old and not yet crawling, I was certain something was medically wrong and headed to the doctor.

    Today, I find endless reasons to worry. Kids. Marriage. Finances. Health. Relationships. The future. If I let my thoughts run wild, I can concoct all sorts of terrible scenarios, all starting with "what if." What if my husband gets laid off? What if my aging parent needs to move into a nursing home or live with us? What if I get sick and can no longer care for my family?

    Over time, I've noticed something about worry: 99% of my past dreads never came true. However, I spent oodles of time fretting about them. How I wish I could redeem that time, to do something productive instead! What if I had turned my worry into worship?

    Contrast my attitude with the woman in today's key verse, Proverbs 31:25 says, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." No weariness in her thoughts and actions. She laughed at the days to come! Not in a careless sort of way, but with a confidence that came from God.

    Because she wore strength and dignity due to her faith in God, she had a smile on her face and a chuckle in her heart when considering the future. She trusted in God, whose faithfulness in the past assured her He would work out circumstances in the future.

    This has happened many times in my life. Often, things that concerned me have turned out to be blessings instead. For example, when our son was in third grade, we discovered he had severe dyslexia. Oh, the time I spent worried about his academic progress! Even fun milestones for other children were cause for fretting. Would he pass his hunter safety course? His driver's ed written test? And what about college?

    God used my son's learning disability to grow my faith. As I learned to turn my panic into fervent prayer and praise, and trust God's plan and timing, my relationship with God strengthened. Plus, we saw our son grow stronger and more confident as he overcame each cognitive hurdle.

    That's just one way God worked in me to replace my worry gene with confidence in Him. Each time I've turned worry into worship, I find it easier to laugh at the days to come, like my Proverbs 31 sister.

    God knows my future as well as He knows me. My job is to seek to know Him more as I place my future in His hands.

    Oh, and to laugh a little more often.

    Dear Lord, help me turn my worry into worship, believing that You alone know the future. May I rest in Your loving arms, knowing You have my best interest at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Was there ever a time you were worried about something that never came true? In retrospect, how do you wish you had handled it differently?

    Spend some time today praying over your concerns. Choose to trust God has you in His care.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 112:7, "They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Day I Lost My Smile

    Posted on April 10, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

    I looked at my schedule and an overwhelming sense of dread started creeping into my heart. "What's wrong with me? Why am I always running late, running behind, and running after my people who all seem to compound this issue?"

    Because time refused to stand still while I pondered, it was necessary to jump right into task mode. There were lunches to pack, permission forms to sign, and tangles that needed gathering up into ponytails. I put one foot in front of the other and kicked into automatic, mentally crossing off one thing after another on my morning routine checklist.

    I gathered up backpacks and lunchboxes and started announcing from the front door that we had to leave right this minute. And then I said it again. And then I yelled it in a tone that finally got my kids to appear. I quickly checked to make sure we didn't repeat yesterday's mistake of letting one leave with no shoes on. Then I marched out of the house while tossing out a stern reminder to please shut the door quickly so the dog didn't get out.

    But the dog did get out.

    As I slipped the car in drive, the dog darted right out in front of me causing me to simultaneously slam on the brakes and spill both cups of orange juice I had gingerly perched between my purse and the little stacks of toast.

    I jumped out to usher the dog back into the house and let hot tears just have their way. The green numbers of the dashboard clock seemed to simultaneously mock and remind me I had no time to sit and cry it all out.

    I handed my kids their soggy toast and in a rare moment of silence, they took it without protest.

    We pulled into the carpool line at school and I stared at the long line of cars ahead of me. I imagined all the wonderful smiling mothers who were doing this better than me. They probably had organized systems for packing lunches the night before and making sure their kids kept up with their shoes. They probably did family devotions each morning, ate breakfast at the table, and sang songs all the way to school.

    I compared all that to the realities of my morning and came to one heart-sinking conclusion: "I stink at this."

    Almost at that exact moment my phone buzzed with a text message from a friend: "I had a really hard morning with my kids today. I'd love to have coffee some time and learn how you do it all so well."

    I couldn't believe it. I half sighed and half chuckled at the irony.

    I turned around to my kids in the back and said, "Hey guys, I'm really sorry Mommy was such a grump this morning. I think I misplaced my smile. So I just want you to know while you're at school today I'm going to do everything I can to find it."

    After I dropped them off, I called that friend and told her what a gift it was to get her text.

    I shared with her. She shared with me.

    Together, we brainstormed better ways to prepare for these morning pitfalls we both kept finding ourselves in.

    Together, we gave ourselves the permission to admit how hard motherhood can sometimes be and that it's okay to feel caught off guard by the endless demands.

    Together, we listed reasons to be so very thankful.

    Together, we found strength.

    Together, we regained our sense of dignity.

    And it wasn't too long until we both found ourselves laughing together.

    It reminds me of our key verse, Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." But sometimes it takes a friend to bring us back to the place where we can live this verse.

    We need each other. The key word that day I processed life with my friend and gained a better perspective was, "together." It's such a powerful word and the exact reason I wrote this devotion today.

    You are not alone.

    Oh, how easy it is to lose our smiles and forget to laugh at the craziness of our lives. I need reminders. Just recently, I bought a necklace with a gold pendant that reads, "She laughs." (See below in related resources for more information.) When I see the reflection of this necklace in the mirror I remember laughing is one of the best ways to show those I love that I enjoy them and I like doing life with them. What a gift for them to have memories of me laughing.

    I imagine, though the circumstances might be different for you, you know that place where I was. And maybe you need a reminder to laugh too. We all have times where we feel like failures. We feel like others are doing life so much better. We feel so very alone in our struggles and issues and chaotic emotions. And we look up one day and feel like it was a lifetime ago since we laughed.

    So, I slip this little devotion into your life and whisper, you're not alone. You're doing this so much better than you think you are. God has entrusted you with your life, your loved ones, your unique challenges because you are perfectly equipped for it all.

    Just don't lose your smile. And if you run into me today looking a little worn out, might you remind me of this as well?

    Dear Lord, help me not to lose my smile today. I want to find my joy in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What friend can you share your struggles with today?

    Choose someone you can be honest with, and determine to encourage each other through meeting for coffee, praying for each other, and sending text messages throughout the week.

    Power Verse:
    Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • I Just Unfriended My Friend

    Posted on April 7, 2014 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki

    "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul." Proverbs 3:21-22a (NLT)

    "Women are ridiculous," I said to my husband as I crawled into bed, tears dripping. He gave me an agreeable stare, since he had no words to console my aching heart.

    I'd just learned a friend lied to me. It was about something senseless, which just made it worse. As the hours ticked by, I wrestled through troubling thoughts.

    Why would she lie about THAT?

    Were we ever really friends?

    The combination of hurt and middle-of-the-night thinking was toxic, forming a very self-centered attitude in me. I decided I no longer had room in my life to deal with someone who had lied to me. So in my heart, I just unfriended this friend.

    I have other people I can be friends with, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning I realized how my emotions had distorted my perceptions. It concerned me how quickly I was willing to write off this friend, since we had been through a lot together. And I really did value our relationship.

    So I pondered the emotions swirling in my heart.

    In our cyber culture today, it's easy to sit behind computer screens and smartphones while we reject the reality of many things, including friendships.

    My profile on Facebook says I have 900 "friends." Social media convinces me I have hundreds of people in my corner. But in reality, I don't have 900 friends I could call in the midst of a crisis or even go meet for a cup of coffee.

    And that "unfriend" button is mighty tempting when someone hurts me. But the truth is, ending a relationship is much more complex than the way social media convinces me it can happen — as easily as clicking an icon.

    Social media is a relational tool, but it's not a relational reality.

    More than ever, I need to see my friendships through the lens of reality, and this verse helps me do this: "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul," (Proverbs 3:21-22a).

    God has given us two trustworthy filters to help us see things as what they really are: common sense and discernment.

    In this situation with my friend, common sense, reminded me: You don't really have 900 friends, but you do have one or two people you can really count on. And you need to cultivate those relationships through good times and bad.

    When I wanted to reject our relationship because I was hurt, discernment said: Your friend is human. At the core of her heart she cares about you and didn't mean to hurt you.

    We will always be susceptible to flawed perceptions in our friendships. But when we hang on to the realities God offers us through common sense and discernment I believe we will be much wiser with our perceptions.

    Using God's Word as my filter, rather than my emotions, allowed me to work through the hurtful issue with my friend. That experience made me a more compassionate friend and it strengthened our friendship, so that when I mess up (and I'm sure I will), hopefully she'll forgive me.

    God, we are so grateful for Your gifts of common sense and discernment. Give us the grace to use these filters when things get foggy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there a friendship God might want to restore because one or both of you had a flawed perception about what was happening? Maybe today you could reach out to that person and begin the process of healing.

    Friendships thrive when we cultivate them. Invite a friend to meet you for some meaningful connecting time, this week or next.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 13:12, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (MSG)

    1 John 3:2, "But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him — and in seeing him, become like him." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Confront to Connect

    Posted on March 16, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6 (NKJ)

    Confrontation means there has been a disconnection. Something has severed trust. It may be relational, emotional, or financial. Maybe you feel you have lost someone’s love and respect. Whatever the reason for the disconnection, confrontation needs to seek a reconnection. This is what a caring, faithful friend does. They seek to reconnect where there has been a disconnect. Your salvation in Jesus brought you into relational wholeness with heaven so you could model the same on earth. Scripture teaches, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

    However, if ignored, delayed confrontation deteriorates into disconnection. It dilutes understanding, trust, and intimacy. This is why wise leaders keep short accounts and speak freely and early about their concerns. If a leader ignores his or her obvious feelings of frustration, they will naturally distance themselves from the team and the organization. But if they confront early on, in a spirit of respect and understanding, they stay engaged with the enterprise and the individuals, and therefore avoid creating a culture of control and distrust.

    This is true in marriage. A wife may confront her husband when she does not feel loved. This is a natural response when she feels distant from her spouse. Depending on the context of the confrontation, the husband may respond positively (if he is smart!) or he may push back defensively if he senses a combative or controlling spirit. It is normal and healthy to desire and seek out relational connection. This is how God has wired people. Just make sure you set yourself up for a successful connection and not an aborted one.

    Your husband is much more receptive to receiving your emotional advances when done in a spirit of respect. Use questions like, “Sweetheart, can we sit down sometime today to discuss the children’s schedule for the upcoming week?” This gives him time to process and prepare. If he feels pounced upon or backed into a corner, he will react defensively. In this situation, healthy confrontation gives a couple the organizational connections they need to be more effective in managing their family responsibilities.

    Caring confrontation creates a culture of teamwork and trust. A connected culture creates communication channels that build great organizations. Sadly though, a disconnected leader encourages disconnected individuals who then feed disconnected departments that facilitate disconnected divisions that ultimately lead to a disconnected and dysfunctional organization. So, most importantly, start by connecting with Christ. Vertical relational reconnection facilitates horizontal relational reconnection. Sin subtly or not so subtly severs relationships, but confession leads to connection. David, a most effective leader, said it well: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Therefore, make your motives and methods of confrontation for the purpose of reconnection. Friends who care confront to connect.

    Taken from the March 16th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    Post/Tweet today: Caring confrontation creates a culture of teamwork and trust. #confronttoconnect

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

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