Creation isn’t Over!

Wherever Jesus went, amazing things happened. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if Jesus had been able to go more places and do more miracles. Wouldn’t it have been a better plan to allow Jesus to be all over the place working in multiple cultures and increasing God’s influence in the world? Shouldn’t Jesus have been here just a while longer?

Of course, that is silly. Christianity has permeated nearly every culture in the world and continues to reach out to more people every day. I used to believe that it was impossible to spread the gospel to every part of the world but in my lifetime the world has shrunk dynamically. Every day, some miracle of technology reaches people previously thought unreachable and knocks down the barriers of isolation that I thought would stand forever.

God hasn’t blessed us with the ability to create an internet to play games and catch up and re-runs of old TV shows. It isn’t so kids can have a vast library in their homes to do their homework. It isn’t for us to be able to chase down old friends and classmates and shoot the breeze on Facebook or for us to tweet like little birds on Twitter. It certainly isn’t for us to do the evil things that are often done using the world-wide web.

It is to help us further to Kingdom of God.

Oh, I know that there are people who feel they created the internet. There are people who were instrumental in creating it but their ability to do so comes from God above. They don’t have to believe it, they don’t even have to believe he exists. He still is the creator of all things.

Colossians 1:15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

Sure, everything here is in the past tense. Paul only knew about the things that had been created so far. But there was no line drawn when creation ended. It hadn’t ended then and it hasn’t ended now. People can try to take credit for the new creations but it is God.

If not for God, we would be carrying big sticks everywhere, traveling on foot and eating cold meat. Of course, we have tried to use all these things mostly for our own personal interests but they were created through him and for him.

I, myself am a new creation. This creation takes place every day. As the old passes away, the new is added.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

No, creation isn’t something that started and ended in seven days. That’s just the beginning. God is a creator and he has not stopped creating.

John 14:1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.

When I wonder why Jesus had to leave so soon and why he didn’t do more when he was perfectly capable of making a way to continue on here, I forget that he was just getting the ball rolling. He created disciples out of fishermen, doctors and tax collectors. He created new hearts in people. He completed what he was sent here to do. He paid the price for our sins by dying and he made a way for us to connect to God by rising again. He demonstrated his power over the grave and over sin but most importantly he continued creation right before the very eyes of all who cared to look.

What he did was amazing but what was to come was beyond imagination. That next step is going to be a doozy!

Hope and Getting Real

Living life like an All-American manly man for decades is a pretty tough thing to do. Yet somehow most of us men learn to do it. Women learn to do it too. We all seem to have our outer person that everyone knows and loves or hates while we suffer in silence with the real life that is going on inside of us.

When you go to church, keep in mind that the guy sitting in front of you that has the perfect family with him is probably not at all who is seems to be.

At work, the boss that seems to have it all together and is running the place efficiently and can do it all without batting an eye has a lot more going on inside than he will ever let you see.

Even the guy you pass on the sidewalk that scares you a little bit with his demeanor and swagger, well, he isn’t so tough as you or he might believe.

There is a mask on this world. There is a fake reality that confronts us every day. If a person wants to, they can make up their own version of reality and fit in just fine with all the phoniness that is going on around them. They can wear it like camouflage and when it all falls apart and bad things happen, the ugly fall-out of reality can take those around them by surprise.

If I truly want to make a difference, I have to stop the insanity. I have to stop being the man of stone and let the world see something besides the big fake that my silly brain tells me I ought to be.

After Jesus died, people saw the end. They saw the great teacher with the God-complex had reached the end of the road. Those who had placed hope in him lost it. Those that had not, well, they said, “I told you so!” People were quickly going back to their big, fake world or reality. The Jews had no hope really. I’m sure that this flash of Messianic hope was quickly turned into disappointment and they felt even more hopeless than before.

But they still didn’t understand the truth. They were living in the midst of a revolution and didn’t even know it. They struggled on with everyday life, bound by Jewish law, bound by Roman law, imprisoned by their sinful lives. They were being set free but their hope was now dead and buried.

John 20:1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

Well, maybe not buried anymore. The stone had been rolled away. Something supernatural had happened but Mary was still living in her world of her own version of reality. Her version makes a lot of sense. People don’t just get up out of their graves after all. Yet, she had seen it before and if Jesus could raise Lazurus from the dead, what would stop him from raising from the dead? I can’t say much bad about her reaction. I have seen Jesus do amazing things time and time again but I seem to forget about those things when things are going bad. I forget where my hope comes from. I choose too often to live without it.

John 20:6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.

The stone had been rolled away. What was inside? Hope. For Peter and the other disciple it was like the end of a great ‘who-dun-it’ novel. That moment of, “Oh! Now it makes complete sense to me.” The stone had been rolled away and the truth had been revealed and the truth was amazing and freeing.

Once I have this truth abiding in me, why do I feel the need to keep it sealed away behind a stone? The world around me is living in deception and hopelessness. Isn’t it about time that I roll the stone away and let the hope come walking out? It is an amazing and almost unbelievable story. Yeah, it is unbelievable but it is true. It can show others where true hope lies. It can show others what true hope does. It can show others what true hope can become. Life is a lot more fun living with that knowledge than living in the split-personality world of today.

Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

A lot of us live with a kind of secret hope. But that is only part of what God has for us. It is only by rolling away the stone and becoming real on the inside and out that hope can overflow. Overflowing hope helps not only ourselves but all that we come in contact with. It is truly life-changing.

 

Why Me?

“Why me, God?”

I’ve asked this question several times over the course of my life. Looking back at those times, the answer is still usually, “I don’t know.”

Particularly, when it comes to me wondering why I was created with this depression that makes no sense of life at times and causes me to want to give up even when things are going well. I just don’t know why.

I do know that it is part of my journey, part of who I am, and that I will carry it to the grave as long as God doesn’t decide to miraculously turn me into a normal functioning human. I also know that through the last few years, God has opened doors to allow me to help others with the same obstacles in their journey. It takes a person like me to understand what is going on with me. People that don’t deal with depression always look for a reason or a cause. They can’t understand that it just is.

I’ve learned to accept that some things just are. There is no cause I can fix, no cure for the affliction, just salve for the symptoms.

This drive to want to know the why of everything and be up on a level with God is what made Adam and Eve hungry for what they were forbidden. They couldn’t accept that God is God and they are a part of his creation and just let that be good enough.

I try to no longer spend hours upon hours trying to figure life all out. The more I sit and think about what God needs to do to fix things, the less strong my faith in him becomes. He already has it all figured out and anything I figure I could change is just me poking around eating fruit I am forbidden to eat.

Proverbs 20:24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

There are a lot of “why’s” along the road of life. I hear it asked all the time. But knowing the answer to all of those questions won’t change a thing. It seems that the things which can be changed are ignored as long as possible. I’d rather avoid giving up my stranglehold on my life and keep God on the outskirts rather than simply do what he says and trust he will give me real wisdom that can be put to work here in this life.

Me knowing why God does what he does makes about as much difference in my life as knowing why there are the number of moons around Jupiter there are. Jupiter, nor its moons, as of right now, has never made one iota of difference in my life.

Being able to answer a lot of trivia questions about God doesn’t really add to the quality of my life at all. I need to know him, not no more about what he is up to. I need to trust he will let me know what I need to know when I need to know it and I might not understand it but I do need to obey and believe it.

Till I’m Blue in the Face

I used to take pride in my ability to win an argument. Sometimes I wonder, as I look back at all the time I wasted debating, arguing and just downright being contrary, if I ever really won anything at all. I’m pretty sure that in most arguments, the only winner is the one wise enough to stay out of it.

Of course, I always had a really good reason for arguing. When someone’s opinion differs from mine, they clearly need me to make sure they understand the right opinion (that would be mine for you keeping score out there).

Actually, there is no prize for convincing someone else that I am right. I don’t know why I always put such a high premium on me being right. When I insist on being right, quite often, I refuse to stop being wrong.

I’ve always heard that, “You can’t argue with stupid.”

I’ve seen stupid in action and that is true. In fact, I have been stupid.

Sometimes I am right. That doesn’t mean I can talk till I am blue in the face and make the self-absorbed, self-centered, self-sufficient person across the table see it. In fact, the more the guy across the table thinks he is right, in spite of giant holes in his logic are, it is less likely I will teach him anything at all.

Things are likely to be reduced to a playground session of name-calling.

There are times that I need to teach someone. But I have to make sure that none of that pride and ignorance from my life as a great arguing fool creeps into it. I need to humbly speak truth. Some people will listen and some people won’t. In fact, the ones that won’t might call me a fool.

Proverbs 9:7 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return.
Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.
8 So don’t bother correcting mockers;
they will only hate you.
But correct the wise,
and they will love you.

I need to be sure that when I correct or teach, that my goal is to make someone else’s life better, not to make me right. If I am the only person being bothered by what someone else is doing, well, then I had better see what I need to learn.

I need to be willing to speak truth and move on when it isn’t received. An argument turns one fool into two.

Frankenmower

Spring is full of all sorts of great things. The fish are biting. The trees are leafing out. The temps are warming from the icebox of winter. Snow is no longer in the forecast. The grass is green…sometimes I’m not so sure about the green grass being all that great.

Not so long ago, the green grass meant it would be time to bust out Frankenmower, the conglomeration of various parts I had scavenged and assembled to resemble a riding lawn mower.

Each year, spring arrivesd and mowing was a chore that lasted hours. It seemed that about the time the back yard was done it was time to mow the front again.

Seat time on Frankenmower wasn’t all bad but sometimes it was just a nuisance. Sometimes the nuisance turned into disaster when parts of the monster of mowing decided to break and money much better spent on fishing or steaks was diverted into buying parts to get the beast working again.

Mowing is one of those things I don’t really enjoy until it is done. Walking in the freshly cut yard and the way the rolling landscape looks when it has been mowed make me feel good. Getting them in that condition is sometimes hard, hot, sticky work full of obstacles and struggles. Even keeping from sliding off the seat is a pain as the mower is chugging and whirring and squeaking along on the side of our hill.

I guess I need to focus more on the end result and not the discomfort and noise or aggravation of having to stop everything to fix another broken part on old Frankenmower. No matter what the struggle to get it done, getting it done is always worth the struggle.

Zechariah 2:10 The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.”

God descends into my life like a beautiful spring day after a hard winter. I’m practically giddy with excitement as his light hits the cold recesses of my life and thaws them. But then there is work to do. I used to resent God and wonder why he allowed so much trouble into my life. I tired of doing things and struggling through my breakdowns and wanted to go fishing for things that I thought would benefit me more.

I never took the time to sit down and shut up and see what God was doing in me through all this struggle. I looked at God’s plan as being a test and if I passed I made it into his grace. My focus was on the struggle and not on the results. God’s grace is already in my life. I can’t make it better by working for it. These things that bore me at times and inconvenience me when I would rather be doing something else don’t improve the quality of God’s life or secure me a place in heaven. They improve my life, right here, right now.

When God comes to live in me, he gives me the ability to see how to make my life better. But seeing my life can be better and knowing how to do it doesn’t make it happen. If I never take my place on the seat of Frankenmower, the grass just turns into a wild mess. If I don’t embrace the changes God shows me will make me a better man and begin to do what it takes to change, I’ll still be wild and will never know the peace and joy God desires to bring into my life.

A lot of the time it seems that what God is asking is too hard. The work is too great. I forget that he isn’t giving me a lousy piece of junk like Frankenmower to handle the task. I have all that he is to help me. I’m not limited to what I can do but what he can do through me. When I take that first lap around my goal, each lap after that is smaller. I’m not just spinning my wheels going in the same circle over and over again. When I do what God asks, he does what he promised.

I have to be sure to stop now and then and look at what he has done. When I do, I am amazed. I can plainly see that it is more than I could ever do on my own. But it all starts with stopping the whole routine of wondering how I can accomplish what he asks and getting up and taking the first step.

Zechariah 2:13 “Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”

As I crawled out of bed this morning, I wasn’t too excited about what the day was going to bring. It seemed overwhelming and I felt like a broken down old mower. I wondered if I could even get started. But after these moments with God, I feel like I just might get this old engine cranked up and ready to rock. God is springing into action and I am going with him.

Seeds, Jesus and Me

I have heard sermons preached on just about every word of Jesus that has been recorded in God’s Word. I’ve rarely sat down and digested them. I don’t know why I have felt that hearing God’s Word is good enough. A hard life sure is easier if I stop looking at it from the whole “me” perspective and start looking for what God is up to.

Here is a parable of Jesus that I have often “heard”:

Mark 4:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

I always heard this and went down the list and said, “Oh! I’m not the footpath kind of guy. Those folks are bad. God’s Word means nothing to them. I’m not a shallow guy. Shallow people are bad. I’m not a weedy, thorny dude. Those dudes are bad. Yeah, fertile soil! That’s the ticket. I’m good and I know it!”

I was more worried about making God’s Word say nice things about me that I didn’t listen and understand.

Jesus wants me to listen. He said so himself. He isn’t illustrating these things in this parable to divide people into a bunch of categories. He wants me to understand. If I simply hear God’s Word and adjust my reality to make me feel better, I’m not listening. I’m not growing. I’m withering.

Life is hard when you are withering.

Mark 4:15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.

Now, if I honestly read this and look at what it means, I can see myself here time and time again. God is speaking to me every single day. His message is loud and clear. I have chosen to stop listening. My heart is hard and life is hard and it is pretty easy for Satan to steal away the good in my life. I have to honestly look at myself and hear the message, listen and understand. This will cause some major excavation to begin and the message will begin to take root. I’m not bad if I honestly see myself here in this place. I am listening to God and that in itself starts to move me to a better place.

Mark 4:16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

I gotta tell you that this is probably where I have spent most of my life. Life gets tough, I make a mess and come crawling back to God and he blesses me with his amazing grace. The sound is sweet and I am all kinds of happy again. But I don’t let my roots go deep. I settle for sprouting and growing until the first sign of trouble and then I lean on myself from there on in. I’m back in withering mode. If I refuse to admit this, I simply repeat the cycle over and over again until I give up and fall back into being a footpath.

Mark 4:18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

Once I finally get some roots, once I finally begin to grow, I take my responsibilities seriously. I take them so seriously that I worry and chase after ambition. I feel overworked, overly busy and want more things. I feel spiritually suffocated and wonder why I can’t seem to thrive successfully like I used to. I long for simpler days with God and get frustrated as discontent and selfishness begin to grow inside me. Once again, if I fail to listen and understand, I will continue on allowing the weeds to grow around me and choke me to death.

Mark 4:20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

I am reading this and wondering, “When will I ever arrive here?” Even today, as I read and accept God’s Word into my life, as I expand my hearing to not only include him in my day but to make him the focus of my day I have to honestly confront myself and ask, “Where is the harvest?” I can’t help but feel that there is much more to do to before I actually have some evidence of falling into what I always referred to as the “good group”.

One day at a time.

Trouble With The Curve

As I kid, I was part of a church family, meaning, my family was at church a lot. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and any other reason we might find to go to church. Sometimes the church had an evangelist show up and we’d have services every night for weeks. I’m not kidding, weeks of going to church every single night.

Now, it seems that the world has a tough time making it to church once every other week or month or year. I’ve heard the argument that we don’t need church, that a relationship with God is between a man or woman and God. I’ve even bought into that.

But God doesn’t appear to buy into that in his word. As we go back into the bible, God called the people of Israel to worship together. He inspired music that wasn’t just sung out by one voice by some guy strumming a harp in the garden all alone. The Psalms were sung by groups of people, worshiping God together.

In Revelation, God spoke to John, not about John but about the church.

Why is it that now, to so many, the church is unnecessary to their spirituality?

“Homo incurvatus in se”.

I’d never heard this till recently, I guess because I’ve never bothered to study about Martin Luther, a great reformer of the church.

What it means is “mankind curving in upon itself”. Picture the fetal position, Mankind has a tendency to draw up into a spiritual fetal position where the view is mostly of knees and feet. It is a small world and in that position, there is submission to whatever comes along. There is no charging forward, no retreat, merely a ball of a man or woman ready to be kicked around by life.

I’ve seen this in me. I’ve been the ball rolled around like a toy by those that choose to do so. This is not what God created me for. On my own, I can focus on God occasionally and stand up straight and gaze into grace. But I’m far more likely not to.

When I surround myself with others standing against the curve, looking into something greater than themselves and pointing their eyes toward the source of all hope, the source of all strength, the source of all life, I want to stand. I have to stand. I have to stretch my muscles and feel the bend leave my spine. I want to walk. I want to run. I want to mount up with wings as eagles.

The tough thing is that I have a hard time recognizing when I have allowed myself to curve in on myself. It is a good thing to regularly schedule a spiritual chiropractic appointment to line my back up and get me back on my feet. This is one thing corporate worship (getting out of bed and going to church and participating in what goes on there) does in my life.

Colossians 3:16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Worshiping together does much more than just help me fight the curve. It helps others fight the curve. It moves us from a point of spiritual idleness into action. Once we begin to move, the options are limitless. God gets exciting and new, even adventurous.

Evil Words

I’d like to write about living a stress-free life but since I don’t ever remember living life like that, maybe I should stick to things I know a little bit about. So today, I am going to write about shutting up.

I know a lot about shutting up. I can almost always tell when I should have shut up and not said anything after I have said the things I shouldn’t have said.

The first rule of shutting up, for me, is to not say things when I am angry. If I get angry today, I need to find a place to calm down, think about what needs to be said and take care of things from a place where things can be fixed.

If I stop and think, I can avoid breaking things worse and lamenting a situation that requires some serious work to repair.

The second rule is that just because I can make a funny insult about someone’s temporary lapse of intelligence, I do not have to share it with everyone. If it isn’t viewed as funny by the person that sparked the hilarious thoughts in my mind, my mind is probably where they should stay.

I can make rules all day long of things that I shouldn’t say. I’ll spare you that and share one more rule written by some guy a lot wiser than I am.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

I need to think carefully before speaking, not quickly, not pridefully, not angrily, not hatefully. Thinking carefully brings out the godliness in me even if I am not the most godly guy in the room. Not doing so fills the place with an overflow of evil words.

I need to stop making excuses for a lot of things I say and call them what they are, evil words.

Think carefully. I really need to latch onto all that implies. Two words can make a profound change in all of my words.  Maybe they can even make life more stress-free!

I Think I’ll Take a Tip from the Pros and Celebrate!

Some days are made for deep reflection and the hard work of submitting to God for reconstruction. It is important to expand my spiritual limitations by tearing down the fences I have built between me and God.

Other days it is important to just celebrate the fences that have been torn down, rejoice in the freedom of the open spaces in my life that I have allowed God to reign in and worship him in ways that I have not been able to before.

Today, I celebrate, not because there is a magic holiday marked on a calendar, not because I got a good night of sleep or because anyone told me I should. But today I celebrate because I really feel like I don’t do it enough.

I think that maybe I allow guilt from my past to tell me that celebration is foolish and I don’t deserve any anyway. I’m pretty sure that’s a lie.

Psalm 47:1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands!
Shout to God with joyful praise!
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.

Last night I watched the St. Louis Blues Hockey beat the Panthers.  There was a lot of hugging and cheering among the players.  The team could have just walked off the ice and the fans could have just nodded their heads and went home. But every good victory deserves some cheering and celebration.

It is important for me to observe victories and celebrate where they come from. When I spent all of my time struggling on my own, there were few things to celebrate. I tended to celebrate wins by other people, President’s Day, the Fourth of July and a few other things that I had nothing to do with and didn’t get to be a part of.

Now, God uses me when I allow it to happen and often when I don’t even know it. God uses ME! I have been a failure, a basket case, a lost cause, and he uses me, me the one that perverted his words for my own edification, the one that made church about me and the one that cursed him in anger.

That’s a bigger deal than a home-run or a touchdown or even a hat-trick (which is a pretty big deal).

Psalm 47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King over all the earth.
Praise him with a psalm.

So today is a day of celebration. I can sing again with a new heart to the King that created a new heart in me.

What I Don’t Want To Hear

Last night I went to a meeting of a small group from a church in a friend’s home. I like going to these meetings. Everyone is really nice and treats each other with real respect and care. It is important for people to have a group of peers to encourage and lead them.

That stuff makes me feel good. Life may not be about feeling good but it sure is nice to experience from time to time.

One thing that we do not do at our meetings is to criticize. I like that. I try my best to avoid criticism whenever possible.

Criticism is bad. Right?

Proverbs 15:31 If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

Yeah, I don’t like to listen to any kind of criticism. Yet, it is important that I hear, not so much about personal criticism of the shape of my nose or how I’m so ugly I can make a freight train take a dirt road, but criticism of behaviors.

If I don’t understand what is wrong with my behavior, I can’t really become a better man. Constructive criticism builds me. It doesn’t tear me down. I need not fear it like I do.

This brings me to the other side of the coin. What about the criticism I have to offer?

I have to admit, most of my criticism is not constructive. I can’t build someone up by talking behind their back. It is my pride at work pointing out another person’s flaws. My pride is lifting myself up and putting another down and bringing yet another into it.

This is not helping anyone. It hurts me, the victim of my words and the person that I share them with.

If a person’s behaviors are bad enough that I need to talk to someone about them, I had best be planning on making that person that someone.

I have a responsibility to hear criticism to be built up and to share it in order to build up others. If I criticize to build myself up, I am trying to undo the good work Christ is doing in me.

Sitting here this morning, it is easy for me to look back at times that I wish I had kept my mouth shut. I rambled on about lots of things that, had I applied this simple proverb to, would have remained unsaid. I was a fool among the wise. I was a fool among fools.

It still happens. I’m pretty sure it happened a couple of times yesterday. It is important that I strive to use my words for better things today.