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ABOUT ME

When I was a kid, I remember lying in bed one night and, to my great disappointment, was struck by the realization that there simply wasn’t enough time in life to do everything that I’d dreamed of doing.  I wanted to get married and have kids, be a war correspondent, or a famous writer living the life of a recluse in a New York City high rise accompanied only by my cats. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to be Asian and speak fluent French.

As I’ve gotten older, the list of things I want to experience has gotten bigger and includes owner of a cat cafe, living out of a backpack and working remotely, complete location independence, being a contestant on the Amazing Race. And assuming Jesus has an affinity for coffee, my dream job in the Millennial Kingdom is to be His barista.

What does all of this have to do with blogging? Simple. This is the place where I write about all of the things that interest me in an effort to curb my insatiable appetite for coffee, cats, minimalism, simple living, money management, and travel. First and foremost, though, it’s the place where I sort out what God is teaching me about living an authentic Christian life. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that piques your interest.

 

Faith · Uncategorized

How An Attempted Ban on Bump Stocks Got Me Thinking About the Miracle of Faith

On the radio the other morning, I listened as the commentator gave a rundown of local news, everything from the impending first frost to legislation over the ban on bump stocks. It was a quote regarding the latter subject that piqued my attention.  In response to passing a ban on bump stocks, Illinois state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer had this to say:

“You’re turning law-abiding citizens into criminals,” he said.

That single sentence played over and over in my head all day. Maybe it’s because we’re studying Romans this year in bible study, and my heart has been reminded of grace and without it I am a simple criminal. Maybe it’s because we’re hours from celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses and the beginning of the Reformation.

Whatever the reason, I was struck by that quote and continue to be so for two reasons. First, despite our law-abiding tendencies, apart from grace we simply remain criminals next to a holy God.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4).

As if His dying on the cross to fulfill the Law’s requirements wasn’t enough, that was merely the beginning. It was enough that every slap of the whip and pound of the nail through soft flesh was payment for every evil thought, unkind word, ungodly motivation I have indulged in over my lifetime.

But it doesn’t stop at the cross, and it is this second part that I find stunning. He finishes His work of salvation by not just offering me the gift of going from criminal to forgiven through unmerited grace, but then extending another gift: faith. The faith to not only believe that all of this is true but to accept it as such and believe.

When I was teaching my kids to pick up their toys, I would take their small hands in mine, walk them to the pile of toys and one by one, walk them through the process of picking up each toy. Closing their hands around the toy, I walked them over to the toy box and opened their hands where it would slide down their fingers and into its designated spot.

In the same way, God reaches down, takes the curled fingers of our clenched fists and opens them one by one until they are reaching back to His.

Ephesians 2:8 says it best.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (ESV).

The simple truth is this: as humans, we take part in a myriad ofcactivities over the span of our lives; activities that get things done, accomplish goals, and change the world. Let’s marvel at the one thing we will never be credited for doing, having the faith to accept Christ’s gift of salvation. We are simply too broken and rebellious to ever accept the life-saving act of Christ without His intervention. Praise God for the completeness of His work.

Faith · Uncategorized

Angel Army

I had the opportunity to contribute a blog post for 31 days of Halloween on the blog, mnbernardbooks.wordpress.com. 
Each writer picked a “creature” and wrote about it in any style they wanted. I chose angels and wrote a story loosely based on an experience I had in high school. Enjoy!

https://mnbernardbooks.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/angels/

The door of the yellow Chevette came swinging back toward the passenger in response to the swift kick she’d given it.  Throwing out her acid-washed denim covered leg, she stepped out and thrust her right hip against the door, swiveling to grab her bags.

“You really need to get this door fixed,” she said to the driver.

“I know,” yawned her friend. “My dad said he’d look at it one of these days.”

“Am I the only one who mentions it?”

“You’re the only one who complains about it.”

“Figures. Thanks for the ride.”

“Sure. See you tomorrow. And don’t forget I want to borrow that dress you bought tonight.”

“I suppose it’s the least I can do for free taxi service.” She kicked the door behind her with her left foot and headed for the entrance to her building.

Evening air blew crispy leaves across her path as she made her way to the building entrance. Her tall blonde bangs bent back at the winds’ pressure. The royal blue discs hanging from her earlobes fluttered in the breeze. Standing under the building’s only light, she piled her belongings under her left arm and reached for the door. Cool metal felt good on her hand as she pulled open the door and entered the building heated in a temperature a bit too ambitious for the season.

The stench of stale urine gripped her nostrils. Sighing she wondered when the manager would ever wash away the stream that had dried days ago between the first and second floor landings. She dragged her tired body up the three flights of stairs stopping at the door that would take her to the third floor hallway. Her eyes rested on the walls of the landing, taking a minute to register. Their dull white shone in superficial brightness against the rich red gloss splattered across them.

From the left wall the spray traveled over the hallway door and onto the right wall where it stopped and hung in three strands halfway down before drying midstream.

She slowly let out the breath she’d been holding as she looked from side to side at the scene in front of her. Just mere feet from her stood the door to the small two-bedroom apartment she shared with her mom and younger sister. The problem lay in the fact that it was behind the door she now stood in front of, and not knowing what might be waiting on the other side caused overwhelming anxiety.

She looked behind her at the three flights she’d just climbed. Should she turn around and go back down? And then what? Back outside into the darkness to whomever might be waiting to finish what they started? Unsure of what to do, the seconds crept by. Her pulse quickened, and she could feel a fear rise up that threatened to choke the life right out of her. She felt frozen in a body that couldn’t move while she desperately wanted to move somewhere, anywhere.

Pull yourself together, Casey. She could hear the words in her head, but her lips refused to move. In any other stressful situation, tears poured easily, but this time was different. Her tear ducts refused to release the wet that often ushered in the release of stress.

At that moment, on the other side of the door, the sound of footsteps running down the hall pulled her out of her stupor. With each step toward her, another part of her body began to wake up until she finally had full use of her legs again. Her arms released their contents, and she turned and flew down the stairs, her feet barely touching the orange-carpeted stairs.

She pushed through the door and into the cool night air, stopping in the middle of the quiet parking lot bending over, catching her breath, crying, and wondering how she would ever get back upstairs and into the sanctuary of her apartment. Had she been followed?

Spinning around, she turned to look where she’d come from. But there was no one. The night air was quiet and crisp and breathable. It held a peaceful calm.

I can’t stay out here all night, she thought as she savored the peacefulness. You have to get back upstairs. Suddenly her thoughts went to her mom and sister. Were they safe? Had they been there when whatever had happened, happened? She had to get to them. Her fear threatened to surface again. She felt stuck knowing she couldn’t stay outside, scared to go back in, wanting to get home.

Lord. What do I do? she whispered the words. I’m so scared.

Look up.

Jerking her head from side to side, she looked around for the source of the words. But there was nothing. Nothing but the sound of dried leaves scooting across the pavement, the flicker of the building’s one light, the smooth breeze that moved the almost-empty branches back and forth in a rhythmic sway.

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. This is crazy, she thought. Your mind is just playing tricks. Get it together. But the thought of moving toward the door caused another surge of panic that threatened to overwhelm her, and she could feel her eyes heating up with the tears that refused to come moments earlier. Determined to get a handle on herself and the situation, she closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Then she heard it again.

Look up.

This time, without thinking, she lifted her chin and opened her eyes to an unbelievable scene hovering over her building. An army of white-robed beings cloaked in blinding light stood in a circle each facing outward and holding a flaming sword raised to the sky. Beautiful and unexpectedly calming, it reminded her of a painting she’d expect to see in a museum that leaves the observer transfixed. She couldn’t take her eyes off it.

I will take care of you, the voice whispered. You’re safe.

And then a verse she’d been taught years before in church suddenly came to mind.

For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

She drank in the truth of the words evidenced in front of her like a cool drink for a parched mouth

Thank you, she whispered and moved toward the door.

At the top of the stairs, her stuff lay strewn across the landing where she’d left it. She gathered it up, opened the door, and tried to ignore the evidence of evil on the walls as she entered the third floor hallway making her way the few steps to her apartment.

She turned the key into the lock and pushed open the apartment door. Inside, her sister was laying in front of the television on the living room floor, her mom standing over the stove stirring that night’s dinner.

“Hey honey,” her mom greeted. “How are you?”

“I’m good. Long day.” She dumped her stuff on a kitchen chair and kissed her mom. “How was your day?”

“Uneventful,” her mom said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. Why?”

Casey shrugged.

“It was odd though.” Her mom said. She turned off the stove, reached for three mismatched dinner plates scored at a garage sale, and began serving up dinner. “Earlier today, I was going to run some errands, but I just had the strangest feeling that I shouldn’t go. I don’t know why.”

“I do.” said Casey. “I’ll tell you later.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith · Uncategorized

Directionally Challenged

The first time my parents and I realized that I was born without a sense of direction was in seventh grade during a semester of map skills. I hated it immediately. First of all, as a visual person, the workbook wasn’t even a little aesthetically pleasing. Printed on newspaper-like paper and covered in bright blue and black ink on dirty white paper, it was all I could do to get through the pages stapled together. Coupled with my assumption that forward-facing is always heading north, it’s not hard to believe that I didn’t do well as evidenced by the massive amounts of red pen covering my work and screaming “fail!”.

Once I got my license, things didn’t improve much. Because that was the era of no GPS or cell phones, much of my time on the city roads included tearful stops at the nearest gas station to call my mom and ask for directions on how to get home. If I thought ahead and got directions before leaving my house, they always started with, “Imagine you’re at the mall…” For some reason, I always knew where I was in relation to it, and the following instructions seemed to make sense.

After marrying my husband, he took over the task of getting me from point A to point B; often taking me to the house of a new cleaning client the night before I started so I wouldn’t get lost on my first day. When he wasn’t with me, his instructions would often start with, “Ok. Imagine you’re at the mall…”

I’d say the GPS has been helpful, and it has been to a degree. But even the talking machine sitting on my dash has failed me as it did one day as I was driving to work. It was a fairly new area for me with road construction, and after doing exactly what “she” said, I still ended up in a farmer’s cornfield where he stood at his door screaming at me to get off of his property. “Do you think I want to be here,” I screamed back at him tears pouring down my face.

Hebrews 13:8 says this,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”

In recent months, I have been hit by just how closely this idea of alternate routes parallels the Church’s evolving theology. If you pay attention you will notice everything from Christians wanting to change the message of salvation to appeal to the culture, to questioning whether we can really be sure that absolute truth exists. We’ve gotten to a place of entertaining Satan’s age-old question of “Did God really say?” leaving ourselves naked and without God’s hand of protection meant for us. I recently heard someone say that one of the greatest issues facing the Church today is homosexuality. This makes about as much sense as our government telling us that the biggest problem facing our world is climate change.

While homosexuality in the Church is definitely a disheartening trend we are now seeing I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that it is one of the greatest issue we face. The greatest issue facing the Church today is the absence of absolute truth and the courage to stand by it.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

As a person who cannot read maps, decipher drawings, or leave the house without a GPS, this verse is especially meaningful to me. Nothing strikes fear in me quite like the big orange detour sign I’m not expecting. I only know one way to get to any of my destinations.

One of the worst instances of getting lost happened when my friend Mary and I were headed to a conference in a town about 2 hours away. I didn’t realize her sense of direction was as lacking as mine until I watched an exchange between her and her husband taking place right before my eyes, echoing the one I’d just had with Bruce. The conversation was filled with concentrated instructions and words and drawings in an effort to help us get to our destination as smoothly as possible. An hour later, we still hadn’t made our way out of our own town. Due to road construction, the exit that both of our husbands had told us to take was shut down so we continued to circle the circumference of the city until we had to decide which one of us would put our tails between our legs and call our husband. When I explained the situation to my husband later on from the hotel (by the way, we totally missed the opening night activities), I remember wondering if he was even listening due to the silence at the other end, until I heard him finally take a breath in the middle of hysterical laughter.

There are multiple ways to get someplace in any given city which for people like me is a real problem. Praise God that His Word never changes, nor does His truth, nor do His instructions. In a culture that is constantly changing, don’t we want to cling to the one thing that doesn’t? I would caution all of us with these words:

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power “(Col. 2:6-10).

Want know how to obtain eternal life? Open His Word. Want to know how to treat other people? Open His Word? Want to know if what you’re being told from the pulpit or the culture is correct? Open His Word. It’s all in black and white, much like my map skills workbook. However, instead of screaming “failure”, the words in red are coaxing, “follow me.”

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On Establishing Good Habits

When my son was about two years old, he had a favorite shirt he always liked to wear. It was red and white striped, made of super soft cotton and cost me all of five dollars at an outlet mall. I’m guessing that the soft fabric next to his previously burned skin felt soothing, and it didn’t hurt that it sported his favorite color-red. The shirt wasn’t just a favorite. It became the only shirt he would wear to the point that getting him to switch it out for pajamas at bedtime became a fight I was most nights too tired to deal with. So I did what any parent whose kid is running the show did and waited for him to fall asleep. I would then take it off, wash it, dry it and put it back on before falling into bed myself. Had it not been for the fact that it spent several days on the body of a two-year old I may have let it go, but at some point the thing had to be washed.

Nick was and still is a creature of habit. He wears the same clothes most days, jeans and a t-shirt, eats the same foods, sits in the same spot at lunch via a seating chart he and his friends have made up and followed all school year, orders the same thing at the two restaurants he will eat at for fear of wasting hard-earned money on something that may turn out to be too exotic for his simple American taste buds. He brushes his teeth with the bathroom door closed, drives with the windows closed so as not to muss his perfectly styled hair and always buys the same kind of Nike tennis shoes when a new pair is warranted.

Psalm 112:7, 8.

“He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.”

To say my son is established in his habits and lifestyle would be a gross understatement. If we’re honest, most of us aren’t much different. We find security in the routine, mundane habits of daily life. Then there are those of us who are caught in habits that provide anything but security, but we can’t seem to shake them so great is the pull they have on us.

When I first read this Psalm, it was these two verses that popped out at me, specifically the word “established.” I started asking myself what makes a heart established in something? Is the author assuming that because the heart is established, the person does all of the things listed in the preceding six verses, or is it the actions of these verses that causes a heart to be established?

I started reading the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In the book are seven habits that the author argues will that produce certain results provided the reader spends time establishing these habits. In the same way a heart established in God will produce certain behaviors. Habits are established through the repetition of certain behaviors, but that repetition has to start with the choice to make those behaviors a habit.

In Psalm 111:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is just the beginning. Fearing the Lord is the start to the life of a righteous man. Get that down, and you’re well on your way to establishing your life in righteousness and all of the blessings that flow from it. In Psalm 112:1, the author states that a man who fears the Lord is blessed, and so we have the rest of chapter 112.

S. Conway, a famous preacher said this:

This fixedness of heart, which is so blessed, is the result of habitual trust. Trusting in the Lord. We can form habits of trust, as of any other act of the mind. It is not a single act of faith, or a spasmodic intermittent trust, which will ensure this fixedness of heart. Built must be perpetually repeated until the habit is formed. We must put our will into it, and we must abandon everything which would render such trust impossible, as all allowed sin will and must. – S.C.

It’s for this reason that some people, when given bad news about their health, have a complete calmness about them, a peace that passes all understanding, while others go home, pull the curtains shut and go to bed to avoid having to deal with the reality of their situation. It’s for this reason that some of us find ourselves in debt because of certain spending habits that have been established while others roll with the punches when something comes up they weren’t expecting to have to spend their money on.

Established habits and routines are comforting. We count on them when everything else around us goes haywire. The Hebrew word for establish is samak which means to lean against, rest weight upon, to support.

One commentator says this:

“[Trusting] in Christ, the essential Word…leaning upon him, laying the whole stress of his salvation upon him.”

Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 3:17 (NIV).

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Having been established in love, the reader can then fully grasp the love of God. Without the foundation of God’s love, the very root of our souls, we cannot know the depth of it for ourselves. In the same way, the Psalmist is arguing the case for the righteous life. The way to it is the established fear of the Lord as the base from which flow all other disciplines and blessings of righteousness, one being a steadfast heart as quoted in verse seven.

To drive it home just a bit further, note Ezekiel 24:2 in the King James version:

“Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.”

In other translations the wording is laid siege to Jerusalem, the same word, samak, used in Ezekiel and again in Psalm 112:8. Essentially, King Nebuchadnezzar, driven by his animosity for both God and His people, set himself or bore of his weight upon, the task of destroying Jerusalem. That the same word is used in this verse as it is in Psalm 112 speaks to the strength of its meaning. King Nebuchadnezzar set himself against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. His heart was established, and his actions backed it up.

In answer to the question at the beginning, Scripture shows both that a heart established in truth renders righteousness while, at the same time, the continual righteous acts of the person further establishes a righteous heart.

So what are your habits established in? What is your thought process established in? Why do you do what you do? Are your habits motivated by righteousness, or are they merely perpetual action?

 

 

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On Being Remembered

Psalm 112:6

“Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.”

The first five verses of this Psalm lay down the basic habits of a righteous person: a healthy fear of the Lord, a delight in God’s commandments, one who is gracious, full of compassion, fair in his dealings with others, who lends and lives with discretion. All of those things sound wonderful, but realistically in a sinful world this is completely counter-cultural making it often difficult to live the righteous life we’ve been called to. However, God’s commands are often followed by promises which is where we find ourselves in verse six, the beginning of the list of promises enjoyed by the righteous.

Oftentimes it would seem there is much to be shaken up about so great are the problems around us. We find ourselves distracted wondering what the point is in doing the right thing. Does it make any difference? Does God even notice? It’s tempting to quit, thinking it futile, and just live our lives and try to get by. But then I’m reminded of people like Dietrich Bonhoffer. What if he had given up? How many prisoners in the Nazi concentration camp where he was imprisoned would have died never hearing about Christ?

What if the Coptic Christians had renounced their faith in the face of certain death? Where would the Church in Egypt be?

What if Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Iranian pastor Saeed imprisoned in Iran for his faith, had retreated after hearing of her husband’s imprisonment? Who would have shared the gospel with the United Nations? Who would have been the voice of support on national radio and TV for those imprisoned for their faith?

II Corinthians 6:7-10 has the most encouraging take on the topic:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

What torch do you need to pick back up and carry? And what are the benefits of remaining strong?

There is a conversation that takes place frequently at my house. It goes something like this:

Kid: Mom, we’re going to go get baseball pants today, right?

Me: What?

Kid: I thought we were going to go get my pants today.

Me: What are you talking about?

Kid: We talked about this. My first game is in two days.

Me: This is the first I’m hearing about it.

Kid: Seriously? We just had this conversation yesterday. Don’t you remember?

Me: I have no recollection of this.

Kid: You don’t remember anything.

Me: Silently combing through the stacks of mental clutter searching for that elusive conversation.

The specifics of the conversation change depending on the situation, but the theme, my forgetfulness, is always the same. If I were 30 years older I would be concerned that something serious was wrong. For now, I’m chalking it up to a cruel joke that both my age and gender are playing on me.

Thankfully, God’s memory is not subject to human failure. In verse 6 of Psalm 112 He assures us that the righteous will be remembered forever. Having spent much of Matthew 25 telling the disciples that in giving to the poor, they are giving to the very Savior, He explains that not only are their works remembered, they are rewarded with eternal reward. Not to mistake works as a means to salvation, they are an important part of our relationship with Christ. They are the proving ground for our salvation, the proof of a Savior to the outside world, and a partnership with God in expanding His kingdom.

Conversely, God’s memory “gives out” when it comes to our sin. One of the things most amazing about Him is His selective memory, if you will.

Isaiah 43:25

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:16, 17

“’This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’”

Isaac Newton is remembered for his discovery of gravity and his contribution to modern physics.

Ernest Hemingway will be remembered as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.

Beethoven will be remembered as one of the most influential composers during the time music was transitioning between the Classical and Romantic eras.

Dr. Alexander Fleming will always be remembered as the inventor of penicillin, making it the most widely used antibiotic in the world to date.

As long as history is taught these and others like them will continually be remembered and discussed. Though most of us will never be mentioned in the history books for anything noteworthy, that which we do for others out of our love for God will be remembered and rewarded by Him for eternity.

Verse six is both a reminder and an encouragement to stay strong and to hold onto the hope of His remembering us for eternity.

 

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A Little Mind Control Goes A Long Way

Without a doubt, my favorite kind of movie to watch and book to read is a spy thriller. The adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding, shallow breathing, bad-guy-behind-every-dark-corner type of story has always appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve always secretly wanted to be a spy. I imagine myself a female James Bond speeding through exotic European streets bullets shooting out the back of my Aston Martin slowing down my chasers as I race to disarm a bomb threatening to end modern civilization.

Maybe it’s because in a spy thriller justice prevails. The bad guy is forced to answer for his transgressions and held accountable. Maybe it’s because the main character faces insurmountable difficulties with a bravery and courage I can only dream of having. I want to be cool-headed in a crisis and make rational decisions that will carry me through whatever situation I find myself in.

Who knows? What I do know is that in real life, I’m often ruled by fear. Plain old ordinary fear. One change in my rigid schedule, and I’m ready to recoil in a corner like a scared puppy. One bill in the mail that I wasn’t expecting, and I’ve mentally declared bankruptcy and have myself living under a bridge begging for food. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that recent world events have me so twisted in knots at times I can barely breathe.

Our verse this week is Psalm 112:5.

“A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.”

The richness of God’s Word cannot be overstated. So much of it builds on itself. One verse intertwines with another and often takes us down what would appear to be a rabbit hole all the while leading us back to where we started, the root issue. Let me explain.

The first sentence in this verse assumes discretion rules the day and the actions of a person. But discretion assumes righteousness on the part of the person as a motivator. And where does righteousness come from? What makes a man upright and righteous able to live out life on this earth as an example to those around him?

Proverbs 2 tells it beautifully, a long but worthwhile read.

“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and who are devious in their paths; to deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words, who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead; none who go to her return,  nor do they regain the paths of life—so you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness. For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the earth, and the unfaithful will be uprooted from it (NKJV).

Much of the time minding our affairs with discretion is often thought of in terms of money, power and possessions, I can’t help but think Psalm 112:5 is an impossibility without the basic discipline of mental discretion. Though we are commanded to be careful what we let into our lives in terms of habits and attitudes, the battle starts in the mind.

More than once in recent weeks, I’ve mentioned my battle with fear and anxiety, and in the midst of it, I’ve become aware of the fact that it is just another scheme of the enemy to distract. Preoccupation with anything not of God finds us barely keeping our heads above water. In the end we can forget concentrating on the motive behind lending our time, talents and treasures to others. There’s no room to practice discretion in our interactions with others when we haven’t practiced it at the first line of defense-our minds. Instead we find ourselves having to go back, take control of our thoughts, cling to God’s promises, throw ourselves on His altar of grace and ask Him to replace lies with truth. When we neglect to judge our thoughts against the truth of God’s Word, we do so to the detriment of serving others whether that’s giving of out of our physical abundance, financial abundance or spiritual abundance. If there’s no discretion in what we’re taking in, there’s precious little righteousness in what we’re handing out.

Righteousness reflects a trust in God that those who don’t know Him haven’t experienced. For the righteous, when that trust is wavering, their decisions are affected. And I’m reminded again of the writer’s words in Proverbs 3:5,6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct they path” (Proverb 3:5, 6, NKJV).

A righteous man deals with others and his life with discretion, but discretion comes from a mind that is right with God, a mind that has filtered life through the lens of truth. It’s only from this place of truth can we then deal with others graciously, giving of ourselves and our resources without restraint.

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13, NKJV).