Saturday, January 31, 2015

February 1, 2015

"As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods,and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates." I King 11:4-11
If you have any doubts about the wisdom of listening to the advise of wise people, consider Solomon. He inherited the Kingdom of Israel when it was at its wealthiest, its highest point of influence, its most spiritually healthy and its greatest military strength. His father, David had trained him well and set him up for success. And when he came to the throne God offered to give him anything he wanted and he chose wisdom. That request pleased God and so Solomon was given great wisdom.
How great was Solomon's wisdom? It was so superior to any other wisdom that Kings and Queens came from all over the world to seek his advice. You could say that for a season of his life, Solomon's wisdom ruled the world.
But, tragically, Solomon did not end well. The verses above describe how badly it ended and all the really stupid decisions he made.
What happened to this man who was wise enough to choose wisdom when he could have chosen anything?
He made the unwise conclusion that he was so wise that he didn't need to listen to anyone else. In short, he became proud.
His pride and his arrogance brought him down. 
It was foolish enough for him to stop listening to wise people but he compounded the foolishness by listening to unwise and ungodly people. He married pagan women and they got into his ear and started giving him terrible advice. Not only did he stop listening to unwise people, start listening to unwise people but he stopped listening to God! The Bible tells us he built shrines and altars to pagan gods.
Who saw that coming?
Here's the point. If the wisest man in the world can become a fool, so can you.
Learn from Solomon. Don't let his regrets become your regrets. 
Don't become too proud to listen to wise counsel.
Don't be so unwise as to listen to ungodly people.
Don't become so foolish as to stop listening to God.
You will regret it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 31, 2015

"The way of the fool seems right to them, but the wise LISTEN to advice." Proverbs 12:15

When I think back on the biggest regret of my life, I realize I should have seen it coming. Once when I was complaining to God about this regretful thing that had happened to me, essentially trying to pin the blame on Him for not helping me see it coming, He began flooding my memory with the red flags I had ignored and the red lights I had run.

He was right! I had failed to listen to His gentle and persistent promptings.

So, I asked myself why I failed to heed His promptings and I came up with two pretty standard answers:
  • I was too emotionally involved 
  • I was too inexperienced at life and relationships (aka - "simple")
I should have listened to God and I didn't!

A big regret that led to a BIGGER regret.

Also, as I reflected back to that painful experience in my life I recalled several dear friends and a family member who told me at various times in different ways that they had seen my train-wreck coming. But not one of them had spoken to me about their misgivings.

When I asked them why not they each said, "I didn't think you would have listened."

That raised two big questions in my mind:
  • What did I do to give them the impression that I wouldn't receive their concerns?
  • Why didn't they at least try to share their concerns?
I'm not sure I have satisfactory answers to either question but here's my take away from those experiences:
  • I will actively seek good counsel when I am facing important decisions
  • I will take the risk of sharing my concerns with others I love when they are in the midst of a life-changing decision.
Will you be wise enough to LISTEN to God?

Will you be wise enough to LISTEN to the people God put into your life?

Will you be wise enough to NOT LISTEN to your emotions? "Follow your heart" is probably the worst piece of advice ever given.

January 30, 2015

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” Proverbs 19:20

Blind spots. We all have them, but why? What causes them? 

Let me suggest several common causes of blind spots.

Emotionally charged moments are not ideal for decision-making. Unfortunately, most decisions are made in emotionally charged moments. Since you aren't thinking your best while you are caught up in emotions, what may normally be obvious becomes a blind spot.

When I was selling cars, I wanted to get my customers as emotionally involved with the car as I could. The worst thing that could happen for me as a salesman was when a customer held onto his objectivity throughout the process. 


Because I wanted them to be "blind" to the price I was asking for the vehicle they wanted.

No wonder hindsight is always 20/20, the emotions have passed by the time you look back on your decision.

Knowing that you don't make good decisions when you are in an emotionally-charged moment, the wise thing to do is have friends in your life who can see what is in your "blind spot".

Another cause for blind spots is pride.

When you think you know it all already, you won't be open to listening to someone who sees the blind spot.

That explains why you can always see what other people should do even when you are unsure what you should do.

It was pride that eventually brought down, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (not named Jesus).

Because you tend to be emotional at the point of big decisions you are prone to have blind spots in your decision-making.

And, if you lack the humility to seek good advice from wise people, you will be likely to miss something that would have been obvious to them.

Wise decision-makers avoid "blind spots" by "listening to advice and accepting discipline".

Are you listening?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 29, 2015

"The  way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel....." Proverbs 12:15

When I am driving, especially on a long trip, I am glad to have someone else with me. There are several reasons for that but a big reason is because I have a pretty big blind spot. Because of an old weight-lifting injury I don't have full range of motion when turning my hear to the right or the left. As a result, I worry about changing lanes finding a car there that I didn't see.

Unfortunately, that is not the only area where I have blind spots in my life. So, I need other trusted people to share life with me. I need people who can see my blind spots and tell me to stay in my lane.

I have had enough near misses while driving at interstate speeds (or above) that I know I could have had a disaster if it weren't for others helping me with my blind spot. Not only is that true of my driving but it is true of my life.

Do you have someone like that in your life?

Do you have someone else you are helping like that?

One of my responsibilities as a father, grandfather, friend and pastor is to help those I love to be protected from their blind spots.

As I look back on the greatest regrets in my life they happened because I pulled into a blind spot. Either I didn't rely on friends or else I didn't listen when they warned me.

Blind spots are usually caused by getting too emotionally involved in a situation. Emotion almost always clouds our vision cripples our objectivity.

Emotions are powerful and add many wonderful joys to your life. But they can also lead you to destruction.

That is why wise people never travel alone. They ware well aware of their blind spots and live in fear of getting out of their lane and into a disaster. Wise people always walk through life with trusted companions and counselors.

Don't be a lone ranger and think you can ride through life by yourself. If you are doing that you are very unwise and on the verge of disaster.

God has placed people in your life who love you and who can see your blind spots and who care enough to warn you when you need to stay in your lane! Are you wise enough and humble enough to listen?

Take some time to identify those people in your life.

Take time to thank God for them.

Ask God to give you the grace and humility to seek their counsel and heed it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 28, 2015

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel...." Proverbs 1:5

As you learn to ask this question that answers just about anything, "What is the wise thing for me to do?", it can cause you to think about your greatest regret and wish you would have asked the question BEFORE you did the regrettable deed.

One of the reasons for spending six weeks on this study is to save you from future regrets by asking this question at every invitation, every impulse, every decision point and every opportunity.

When you look back on your greatest regret you may say something like, "Why didn't I see that coming?" Or, "How could I have been so foolish?"

Have you ever made that statement?

Maybe you didn't see it or maybe you did but ignored it.

Maybe you didn't want to see it.

Why were you so blind at this crucial moment?

It was because emotions got involved in your decision and emotions often cloud judgment. Making emotional decisions is what leads to regrettable decisions.

If you didn't see it coming because you were too emotionally involved, chances are there was someone in your life who saw it coming. Perhaps he tried to caution you - but you didn't listen.

That is precisely why Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived pointed out the foolishness of not seeking an objective opinion prior to making a big decision. 

Wise people seek the counsel of other wise people before making life-changing decisions.That is why wise people end up with more success and fewer regrets.

Are you facing a major decision?

Do you have some trusted friends you can turn to for counsel?

Will you listen to them!

It would be a wise thing to do!

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 27, 2015

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22

If you have been following this series on "Ask It!", the question that leads to wise decisions, you have no doubt thought, "If I only would have known to ask this question sooner in my life I could have avoided by greatest regret."

Indeed you would have and that only adds to your regret.

There is no doubt you would have benefited from asking the questioning, listening to the answer and acting on it. But honestly, didn't you have at least SOME doubts or second thoughts? 

I would think any big decision that doesn't warrant a second thought probably isn't worth making. And any decision worth a second thought is worth a second opinion.

Did you seek a second opinion?

Or, a third and a fourth opinion?

If you sought a second wise counsel did you heed the advice you received?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, understood the value of seeking wise counsel when facing important decisions. Trusted people who care about you can help you avoid blind spots in your decision-making and offer you objective viewpoints that you are incapable of having.

Solomon was highly sought as an adviser by kings, queens and princes of other nations. I wouldn't be surprised if while they were seeking his counsel he may have ran a few of his pending decisions past them.

If the wisest man who ever lived recognized the need to seeking advise from wise people, shouldn't you?

I'm guessing that if you look back to the cause of your biggest regrets you will realize how you could have benefited from good counsel. 

Are there people in your life who love you enough to speak truth to you regarding to your decision? You may not always like the advice they give you but you need to hear it and give it consideration.

Wise people are wise enough to know they need the wisdom of others!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 26, 2015

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13

For the most part, much of America is really struggling to be passionate about life!

4 out of 5 Americans feel that they lack passion in their lives. - Harris Poll, 2007

That means only 20% of Americans woke up today saying, “Come on, let’s go for it!”

Why is passion so hard to come by? What is it?

Passion is - “A strong feeling, a great devotion and intense conviction which fuels or motivates us toward compelling action.”

How do I know if I have a godly passion?

Look at your kids. Generally, your kids will catch your passion. At least, up to a certain age your kids will reflect your passion. They will tend to embrace what matters to you and reject what you dislike.

Look at your checkbook. Where you spend your money betrays your passion. Are you spending it on yourself and your wants and wishes? The register at the back of your checkbook does not lie. It may be revealing to look at it once and awhile.
Look at your date book. Where you spend your time shows your passion. How much of your leisure time is devoted to faith, family or friends? How much is dedicated to your favorite stuff? Your Day-Timer doesn't lie. Your record will reveal your passions.
Joy, according to this verse, is an indication of the source of your passion. Do you find joy in serving God and His people?

Faithfulness in serving, praying and sharing is a third evidence that your passion is genuine and godly.

A church that has passion is a church where "Discouraged folks cheer up, dishonest folks fess up, sour folks sweeten up, closed folk, open up, gossipers shut up, conflicted folks make up, sleeping folks wake up, lukewarm folk, fire up, dry bones shake up, and pew potatoes stand up! But most of all, Christ the Savior of the entire world is lifted up."

Passion has positive power!

How do I know I have passion? I have joy as I serve!

Do I recognize joy in my life?

How do I know I have passion? I can serve patiently!

Do I recognize patience in my life?

How do I know I have passion? I can pray faithfully!

Do I recognize patience in my life?

Do I demonstrate faithfulness?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015

"Be very careful then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

Decisions shape your life and they are made in real time. So, time management is crucial for a meaningful and productive life.

That is why I have been sharing four observations about wise stewardship of time and they center around your response to the question: "In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?"

Reviewing the first three observations:

1) Investing small amounts of time over time is cumulative
2) Neglecting small amounts of time over time is cumulative
3) Random has no cumulative value

Or, put into the context of our study:

Investing small amounts of time over time is the result of asking the question and acting wisely.

Neglecting small amounts of time over time is the result of asking the question and acting unwisely.

Living randomly is not asking the question.

That brings us to observation four:

4) In the areas that matter most, you cannot make up for misspent time.

This is when the regrets kick in from the years of neglect and random decision-making. This happens because the question is asked too late to undo the damage.

When you have ruined relationships, health, finances, your spiritual walk and your family from neglecting to make deposits of time over time you cannot make up for it.

You can't suddenly make large deposits trying to compensate for the years of neglect. Once time is gone it is gone.

The ultimate purpose of time is to prepare for eternity. So, as long as you still have time, you have hope! While you can't undo past neglect you can begin making small deposits of time in important areas of life. Your future can be better than your past if you will begin asking the question, "In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams where do I need to begin making deposits of time over time?"

January 24, 2015

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

Life is made up of decisions, so good decisions greatly improve the quality of life. Wisdom is necessary for good decision-making.

Thus, we offer this series of messages on the one question that leads to good decisions - "In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams what is the wise thing to do?"

While life is made better by good decisions, life consists of time. So, wise decisions about how you use your time are among the most important ones you will make.

Over the last few days I have been sharing some observations about the wise use of time.

1) Investing small amounts of time over time is cumulative

2) Neglecting small amounts of time over time is also cumulative

The third time-wise observation is: Random has no cumulative value.

So, there are those who know how to use time wisely and do it consistently. And there are those who know the wise thing they ought to do but rarely do it. And then there are those who only think about what they want to enjoy in that moment.

Random generally refers to those who live with no plan or purpose. They do what seems right or feels right or looks like the most fun. What seems fun tomorrow may be what feels right today. Since your life lacks direction or continuity you waste your time and wasting your time is wasting your life.

Random can also refer to those totally unplanned and unexpected things that happen during the course of a day. These random events tend to be a distraction to or departure from the schedule you planned for that day. It could be a legitimate crisis or it could be a result of poor planning by yourself or by others.

Saying that something is unplanned or unexpected infers that there is a plan in place. Wise people know where they need to invest their time during the day to produce the results they desire. They also know that everything won't go exactly as planned that day. They anticipate there will be interruptions arise and since they know what they want to happen they know how to adjust their plan.

Can you really afford to live without a plan? If you are living without a plan you are planning to fail. That is not wise.

Ask it - In light of my past experience, my current circumstance and my future hopes and dreams what is the wise thing for me to do?

When you ask that question they answer will never be live randomly.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 23, 2015

"A  person's  days  are  determined;  you  have decreed the number of his months and have set the limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5

If you were given something very valuable that you would only have one chance to possess, how would you treat that item?

Would you refuse it?

Would you take it and not use it?

Would you abuse it?

That is essentially the question we are considering this week and the valuable commodity is time. Your time is very precious. With each passing day it becomes more precious because you have less of it remaining! You have it in your hand for such a brief span and then it is gone forever and what you do with it matters!

In yesterday's post I considered the first of four observations on the important issues of time management.  Yesterday's important observation is "investing small amounts of time over time is cumulative".

Today's second observation is "neglecting to invest small amounts of time over time is also cumulative."

In other words, what you do with your time is vitally important and so is what you DON'T do with your time. Both decisions have consequences in time and in eternity.

I said yesterday that one incident of neglect has no apparent consequences and, by the same token, one investment has no immediate benefit. So, since it is easier to neglect than to invest the consequences of either are not immediately obvious you then to neglect rather than not. And by the time the consequences of your neglect become apparent it is too late to avoid the penalty of neglect.

For instance, missing one work out is really no big deal. But, because missing one is not big deal it becomes easier to miss  two, or three.

What happens when those few days become a few weeks and those turn into months?

The same goes for other important activities such as quiet time, time with spouse, time with kids, church or small group meetings.

Complicating this scenario is the fact that often when you chose not to do something productive with the time you end up doing something destructive with it.

If you would think back over what you did when you didn't do something productive you likely would not even remember what you did. That is how foolish neglect is. You traded something that would have helped over time for something that you don't even remember now.

So, while neglect is easy, neglect is also very costly.

If you think you can't afford the time to exercise, or to have your quiet time or worship regularly, wait until you discover how costly it was to neglect those things!

Is there something you have been neglecting that you are beginning to pay a price for?

Are there several things like that?

What will you do with the precious gift of time you hold in your hand right now?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 22, 2015

"A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set the limits he cannot exceed."  Job 14:5

Over the next four posts I will share some practical observations regard the wise use of time.

The first observation I want to share is: investing small amounts of time over time has cumulative results.

Spending 30 minutes a day in physical exercise doesn't amount to much on that one day. Not even in two or three days will it seem to matter. But 30 minutes a day over a year, or two years or a lifetime, will make a remarkable difference.

If you skip one meal it won't matter much. But if you don't take time to eat over a period of weeks or months, it will create a serious problem. And over your life span you won't remember many meals you ate but you will remember you made time for meals.

In the same way, you won't remember many individual Sunday School lessons you learned or sermons you heard, but the cumulative effect of going to class and sitting in church over time will make a huge difference in your spiritual growth.

Some days your personal devotional time seems like a dud. You wonder why you took the time to do it. But taking that time day after day over time will prove to be time well spent.

I remember making time to spend with my kids when they were little. I don't remember many of the days individually but I know over the years it paid dividends.

Over the years of our marriage, Barbara and I have made time each week for a date might. While we enjoy each of them I don't remember many of them specifically but I know the cumulative effect has been significantly positive in our relationship.

Small amounts of time over time add up to big differences!

Where do you need to start making small deposits of time to invest in a better future?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 21, 2015

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

It is important to know what time it is but it is more important to know what to do with time. That is the essence of what Paul is telling the Christians at Ephesus.

Here he equates wisdom with the careful use of time and wasting time is unwise. Obviously, since time is what life is made of using time wisely makes a lot of sense. Who can afford to waste time?

Andy Stanley says, "You can overeat, overachieve, overspend but you can't over live."

Wise people, careful people, make "the most of every opportunity" . Or literally, they "redeem" and "max out" the time.

It takes careful and prayerful planning to "max out" each hour of each day.

A wise person once told me, "Brad, if you don't set your schedule other people will set it for you."

So, I set out to learn wise time-management skills.

One of the wisest time management tips I ever received was from Steven Covey's book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". In this book he talks about the difference between the important and the urgent when prioritizing time.

Important refers to anything related to your life purpose. Urgent refers to situations that are random and unexpected. Often, urgent situations arise out of your failure to plan wisely.

In order to know what is important you must understand your purpose and have well-defined goals. Otherwise, you will get distracted and derailed by the urgent. While it is possible something can be urgent and important, urgency is often the biggest challenge to the important.

As a Christ-follower, important would apply to spiritual truths that have eternal significance. Living out the Great Commandment is important. Carrying out the Great Commission is important. Ordering your daily schedule around those priorities is wise living. And when the random things happen you can evaluate if it is important or an interruption.

What time is it in your life?

Have you lived long enough to regret wasted time?

Is it time to live more wisely?

Do you know what on earth you're doing for Heaven's sake?

Does your daily schedule reflect that?

As you look over your to-do list for today, how many important things are on it? 

Are there more urgent things or important things?

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015

"Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5

Job believed that every person has a life span determined by God.

You may believe that or you may not.

But one thing is undeniable, your lifespan is limited and it consists of seconds, and minutes and hours and days that turn into years. So, if your life matters to you then your time must matter to you as well.

That raises the question, what makes life matter?

You must figure that out and so must I.

As a person of faith and a follower of Christ, what matters to Him is what matters for me. What matters to Him is eternity and therefore using time to prepare for eternity is wise use of my time.

People matter to God because people last for eternity

Relationships matter to God because relationships are how people connect with Him and with each other.

My relationship with Him is what matters most, followed by my relationships with the wife and children He gave me.

As a Christian I have a sacred duty of ordering my time according to His priorities. I am obligated to be a wise steward of my time and must give an account to Him of how wisely I managed time after my time on earth has expired.

Every moment of life matters so make every moment matter in the way that honors God and fulfills His purpose for your life. When life matters you make time to do what matters most.

God has given you a new day. Will you make your time matter today?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 19, 2015

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

Once you decide that humility is important and once you commit to humbling yourself, how do you know if you have achieved it?

Humility is a bit like your shadow, others will see it when you may not.

Someone said, "Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you've got, you've lost it!"

Another has said, "The ultimate test of humility is when you can say grace before you eat crow."

The purpose of this post this morning is to give you some questions by which to measure your attitude:

"Am I going to be about the team or am I going to make the team about me?"

Humility puts the interests of the team and the welfare of its teammates ahead of it's own needs. Is that you?

"Am I as happy over a teammate's success as I am my own?"

A humble attitude can celebrate the success of others as it would it's own. Are you able to do that?

"How well do I receive correction or instruction from the coach?"

The saying goes, "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement." Anyone who cannot accept criticism, correction or instruction from the coach will not help his team. Are you willing to grow by receiving constructive criticism?

"Am I willing to to give up my rights and pick up my responsibilities?"

Humility does not demand its individual rights but is willing to serve were ever needed.

"Will I resist trying to control others and take control of my attitude?"

There is very little that you can control in life. The one thing you must control is your attitude. No one else can do it for you. You can do it for no one else. Will you take charge of your attitude?

"Do I see a team win and a personal win?"

John Maxwell once said, "Much can be accomplished when we don't worry about who gets the credit." Are you able to share the glory or allow another to receive it in order for the team to win?

Unity is a necessary attitude for a believer and a church. It allows God to move and accomplish His will. Humility is essential to preserve unity. Run your attitude past these questions and humbly see how you fare.