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Thursday, June 02, 2005

31 Days to a More Powerful You

By David Jeremiah

A number of years ago, I attended a men's retreat at which the speaker challenged us to begin a practice he said would change our lives dramatically. I was ready to write down a complex spiritual formula, and I have to admit I was initially a little disappointed at what I heard: "There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. I challenge you to read a chapter a day each month for the next year. If you do that faithfully for a year, you will have read the book of Proverbs 12 times and your life will never be the same."

I decided to accept his challenge. I was amazed at how many times I found myself in a situation during the day for which I had insight (or direction or a warning) taken directly from that day's reading in Proverbs. I came to the conclusion during that period of my spiritual life-a conviction I continue to hold today-that Proverbs offers the simplest, yet most profound, daily spiritual "pick-me-ups" to be found in all the Bible.

Why is Proverbs so powerful-such an effective stimulant for spiritual living? Because each proverb provides the one thing we all need in large daily doses: wisdom. But lest you think wisdom is something possessed only by philosophers, professors, and political sages, let's look at what the word really means. There is no more practical, hands-on word in the Bible than wisdom.

Wisdom's roots run deep into Old Testament soil.Interestingly, the word did not at first signify "wisdom," but rather "skill." We tend to equate "wisdom" with "intelligence." But one can have great intelligence without great wisdom, and vice versa. If the root idea of wisdom is skill, then we can say that Proverbs will teach us the skill of living. Just as there is skill in sewing, designing, speaking, navigating, and carving, so there is skill needed for living life effectively and successfully. And that is the kind of wisdom the book of Proverbs offers its readers.

Think of all the encounters you have in a week, and how many of them require skillful navigation. Not a day goes by in which we don't feel hesitant, even confused, about how to act. Pure and simple, we need wisdom-the skill of living life. And there are numerous verses in Proverbs which address every category of crisis we will ever face.

Fortunately, wisdom from God is just a prayer away. The book in the New Testament most like Proverbs is James. The hands-on nature of James mirrors its Old Testament cousin. And James is the one who tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

The author of Proverbs, King Solomon, gained the wisdom to write more than 3,000 proverbs the same way James advises us to get it: by asking God (I Kings 4:32). When Solomon succeeded his father David as king over Israel, God presented Solomon with a blank check: "Ask! What shall I give you?" (I Kings 3). Understandably, twenty year-old Solomon's knees were knocking at the prospect of being king. So instead of asking for riches and long life, he asked God for wisdom, and God was true to His word: "I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you" (verse 13).

For specific wisdom in unique situations, we may not have because we have not asked (James 4:2). But in many more of life's situations, we may lack wisdom because we haven't poured over the proverbs of Solomon. I invite you to take up the challenge I accepted-a challenge which changed my life. Check today's date, read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs, and keep it up for a year. I believe you'll be amazed how something so simple can energize your spiritual life-and give you needed skill for living. Get ready for 31 days to a more powerful you!

From Crosswalk.

The Stranger

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche. My brother, Bill, five years my senior, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play 'big brother' and develop the art of teasing. My parents were complementary instructors-- Mom taught me to love the word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it.

But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell-bound for hours each evening.

If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so life like that I would often laugh or cry as I watched.

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed by John Wayne in particular.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up-- while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places-- go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house-- not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. My dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often.

He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (probably too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. He is not nearly so intriguing to my Dad as he was in those early years. But if I were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name? We always just called him TV.

Stranger in Your Living Room

I haven't had a chance to read all of this but what I have read I found very interesting. These free downloads are sections of an online book about the negative effects of media. Free Handouts are also available.

Dr. Peter DeBenedittis is one of America's leading experts on media education and prevention. Peter has consulted for the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, and the White House Office on Drug Control Policy. Dr. D. regularly keynotes at education, prevention, health promotion, and media conventions. Annually, he speaks to more than 50,000 students (kindergarten through college) and trains more than 1,000 teachers and health/prevention activists on how to use science-based media education for prevention.

Using state-of-the-art multimedia deconstructions, Peter can educate, while entertaining, on the topics of tobacco prevention, underage and binge drinking, violence prevention, eating disorders, body image, parenting around media, and consumerism.

Having previously run an ad agency for 10 years, Peter D. now uses his advertising knowledge to educate for prevention rather than seduce for profits. He was featured in a recent episode of the CBS new magazine 48 Hours for his work teaching media literacy.

The Hiding Place From Focus on the Family Radio Theatre

Corrie ten Boom and her family decided to act on their faith and defy their Nazi oppressors. As they left behind their quiet life as shopkeepers, they entered a world of passwords, narrow escapes and the constant threat of capture. This Focus on the Family Radio Theatre audio drama features an all-star cast, original musical score and sound design recorded at the actual Hiding Place in Holland.

The Hiding Place is now online for a limited time for you to listen to for free or you can purchase it from Focus on the Family.

Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, was one of only two books my mother ever insisted I read as a child (the other was Jane Eyre) and since then I have believed it to be one of the greatest Christian books ever written. I would definitely put in a top ten list along with literary heavyweights such as Pilgrim's Progress and Stepping Heavenward.

How to Make Perfect Lemonade

Everybody knows how to make lemonade, right? Squeeze some lemons, add sugar and water. But how to make lemonade so that it tastes right everytime? Here's a surefire method.

Remember the starting proportions - 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of lemon juice. The secrect to perfect lemonade is to start by making sugar syrup. Dissolving the sugar in hot water effectively disperses the sugar in the lemonade, instead of having the sugar sink to the bottom.

In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice. Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add around 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons. Serves 6.

From Elise at Simply Recipes.

Ten Commandments For Homeschoolers

1) Thou shalt teach your children who God is as the foundation of all their education.

2) Thou shalt not worship the idol of academics, but thou shalt daily remind your children what God requires of them rather than teach them to fear the man-made requirements of the education establishment.

3) Thou shalt bring honor to God’s name by letting the law of kindness be on your lips at all times, even as you explain the multiplication tables for the bazillionth time.

4) Remember to take a break from the books by scheduling plenty of fun time, picnics, reading aloud together and games. Our creator God made beauty for us to enjoy, not just to classify.

5) Honor your children’s grandparents, even if they are skeptical about your homeschooling endeavor, by trying to find ways to include them in your family’s homeschool adventure.

6) Thou shalt not lose your temper, even on your most frazzled day, remembering that your sovereign God will not give you more than you can handle.

7) Thou shalt not neglect or nag your husband, but be grateful for how he makes it possible for you to homeschool your children by being a good provider, and don’t constantly wish he was like that “perfect” father you heard speak at the homeschool convention.

8) Thou shalt not accept government money to homeschool your own children, but pray for what you need to teach your children, knowing that God will provide all that is necessary without taking taxes forcefully collected from your neighbor.

9) Thou shalt be a godly witness in your neighborhood and community, setting a good example of how a homeschool family lives and blesses those with whom they come in contact.

10) Thou shalt not be a curriculum junkie, always looking for the new and improved version of the latest homeschooling fad, but settle on a reasonable method to teach the basics to your children, and spend more time conversing with them than cramming information into their heads. They will remember those heartfelt talks far longer than they will the facts you forced them to memorize so they could fill in the blanks.

From Carmon at Buried Treasure.

10 Uses For a Bedsheet

Many people have extra flat sheets or find them for next to nothing at thrift stores and yard sales. Here are ten uses for that sheet from the Quick and Easy Decorating message board:
  1. A curtain. The broad hem across the top of a flat sheet is big enough to thread a curtain rod through and hang over a window. Or drape over a tension rod and hang in an open doorway, built-in shelves or an exposed closet.--iVillager decorating_fool
  2. Duvet cover. Sew three sides of a bed sheet together; add some buttonholes, buttons or snaps. Voila!--iVillager flamingoluv
  3. A tablecloth.--iVillager jennifer_mansfield
  4. Cut out the pattern and use it as an applique on pillows or paste to the walls.--iVillager stephlb
  5. A canopy. Depending on the size of the sheet you can make a canopy over your bed. You could do it a couple of ways. The first one: Hang it over a traditional four-poster bed canopy (you might have to add ribbon to keep it tied to the posts). Though it wouldn't fall to the floor, it would make a nice short canopy. If you had a smaller sheet, you probably would have to get two and sew them together.
    The second variation: Get a post or rod. Attach it to your wall in between the posts of your headboard (about two to three feet above the bed). Then drape the sheet over the rod and let the sheet fall over the bed in an inverted "V" shape.--iVillager blueeyedgirl1967
  6. Wall covering. Cut off the hems and soak it in liquid starch. Smooth it onto a wall that you want to cover up. You have instant wallpaper! When you move or get tired of it just rip it off the wall, leaving the original wall finish undisturbed. Then launder the sheet.--iVillager flamingoluv
  7. Lampshades. If you get an extra flat sheet that matches your new duvet cover, you can re-cover your bedside lamps quite easily.--iVillager l.welker
  8. Wallpaper. I actually did this once. Staple the fabric at the top and bottom of the wall molding. You can hang the sheet on one wall and paint the other walls in an accent color. People were surprised to find out it was a sheet and not wallpaper.--iVillager lw56az
  9. Backing. Use as backing for a handmade quilt.--iVillager flamingoluv
  10. Seat cushions. Make seat cushions for your wooden kitchen chairs.--iVillager decorating_fool

From iVillage.