Being Content

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.–Proverbs 17:1

I do this all the time, looking at houses and thinking it would be nice to have a bigger house, a fancier house. Or thinking about how it would be nice to drive a Mercedes instead of my Ford. The issue is, that I’m not content like I should be.

Being content is hard for us, especially in the Americanized culture, where it’s taught to want more. There is nothing wrong with wanting better things than what you have for yourself or your family. It’s how we go about getting those things. What sacrifices are we willing to make in order to have more? Many people work 80 hour weeks so that they can pay for a fancier house or nicer car. They miss out on time with their family and loved ones, just to have some nicer things.

I see it a lot with people I know, not being content with what they have and always trying to make a dollar, so they can afford something that is beyond what they can really afford. These people get grouchy and easily irritable. Why? Because they never know for sure if they’re going to have money to pay for the nicer home, car, toys, whatever.

There is peace in being content with what you have. I know personally, when I’m content, I’m a much happier person. I probably a lot easier to live with. When I’m not content, I’m grouchy, because I want something I can’t have. It’s hard for me, I’m a competitive person. I’m competitive with myself, I think I can always do better. Nothing wrong with being competitive, until you get to not being content with where you are.

I’ve talked a lot about wanting nicer homes or cars, but it can be with anything. Maybe it’s your job, you want a more powerful job, a fancier title. How’s your job performance when that job title doesn’t come when you think it should? Do you get mad or are you okay with it? Usually if we get mad, we start becoming not so great of an employee. (Check out Where Are You Seeking Favor)

Not being content in our lives, brings strife. We need to learn to appreciate what we have. Being content, will let us focus on the important things in life. It will bring us less strife in our life.

Doing a gratitude journal or even just thinking of a couple of things each day you’re grateful for changes your mindset for the day. It’s something I’ve done in the past and going to start doing again on a constant basis.

Check out some of my related articles: Balancing Act, Raining Money Doesn’t Grow A Great Life

Are We Fair

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. — Proverbs 11:1

We should deal with people honestly both in financial issues, but all circumstances in life where cheating is possible. Nothing destroys a person’s reputation more than being accused of cheating people. It’s even more severe now with social media. I’ve seen it several times where someone posts not to do business with this person because they will scam you. Then that post gets shared around.

Our character and who we are as men is very important for our ministry. If you have no integrity, you’re not much of a man. There is nothing wrong with getting a good deal on something, but we also need to be fair and not swindle the person either. Even worse is to take advantage of a person that is down on their luck, i.e had a sudden case of medical bills, or some other financial disaster in their lives. We should always try to be fair. I love watching American Pickers (www.antiquearchaeology.com/), and one thing I like about them is, sometimes when they’re asking how much something is from a person, the person will give a price. The pickers will sometimes tell them, that it’s worth more than what the person is asking for it. We need to be like that!

I take my cars to the Mercedes dealership when I need it worked on. I don’t own a Mercedes, but they are extremely honest. When I say, hey there might be something wrong with this, many times they come back and say it is fine. There have been some other places, that always say you’re right this needs to be replaced, later on to find out it didn’t. I’m willing to pay a little bit more in service cost to know I’m being treated fairly. We should treat people how we want to be treated. . . and that means being fair in all circumstances.

Are You Thankful For Today?

No verse today, but are you thankful for today? Not, are you thankful for what is in your life. Are you thankful for today? Are you thankful for the time you have today? The fact that you were able to get up, breathing, and putting two feet on the ground. So many times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget what a precious gift life is.

We forget how fortunate we are to have life. What we are able to take in. The sunrises and sunsets, the feel of the wind as it goes across our skin, the sun warming our skin, the smell of grass, etc. There is so much beauty in nature. It is so good to get out in nature and experience life. To take in a full breath.

Have you thought about how precious your life is? How much God loves you? Sometimes, we need to stop and take a few moments to realize how precious our life is.

and experience life.

Can We Take Criticism?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.–Proverbs 9:8

It’s easy for us to take praise. Who doesn’t want to hear how great we are? How much do we grow from that though? We need to be criticized from time to time. One it keeps us humble, two it points out areas for us to grow in.

What I’m discussing is constructive criticism, not just trying to berate someone. It’s hard for us to hear we’re not great at everything. It cuts a little. It’s a blow to our ego’s. However, it should fuel us to improve. As management at work I have to give reviews on a quarterly to yearly basis. Some individuals it’s very easy to find where they need to improve, and sometimes you have to hold back because they need to stay focused on working in a couple of areas. Other individuals it is difficult to point a place where they need to improve. I’ve sat there for an hour plus, thinking where a person could improve their performance. I’ve never had one of my better performers get mad that I gave them an area they needed to improve in. Why? Because good performers are always looking to get better. It’s one of the tools I’ve used to find the good performers. Just ask the person, “you want to know how to improve?” Most will say yes, but when they’re enthusiastic about it, those are your good performers.

This is how we should be as Christian men. We should be wanting to get better mentally, physically, and spiritually. Our best today should not be our best tomorrow. We should be asking God to show us where we can be better in our relationship with him. We should be asking ourselves, and friends, where we can improve in our life. We should not be satisfied that today we are good enough. When God shows us where we need to improve, we should be enthusiastic about it!

Are you ready to improve yourself?

Do We Even Know What Is Evil?

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. –Proverbs 8:13

Do we hate evil? Most people will automatically state that they do. When we think of evilness, we think of the killing of innocent people, being cruel to others, or other heinous actions. But do we hate the other evil that we would consider lesser sins?

Do we condone lesser evils?

Many times we are okay with evil as long as it’s not too bad. We might say, “It’s not something I would do, but if that’s what someone is going to do, then that’s their problem.” The problem with this attitude is that we have just told ourselves its okay if I don’t do it. Later down the road it will become more and more okay in our minds. Until one day, for some, it becomes okay for them to start that sin. Let me be clear, we should not hate the person, but the sin we should hate.

Do we even know what is considered evil?

This is the point I want to discuss a little bit more. Do we even know what is sinful, aka evil? LifeWay Research did a survey and found that 53% of the people found have only read a few passages or less of the Bible.

If we don’t read the book that tells us what is right or wrong, we are never going to know what is evil. If those individuals are rearing kids, and never give an example of being in the word on a daily basis, those children will likely not get the Biblical truth. They will get their moral compass somewhere else, most likely, somewhere that’s not good. Then the moral compass becomes more and more corrupted as the generations go.

As you can see in the above graph, there are many excuses for not reading the Bible more. Maybe you have used these excuses. “I don’t prioritize it,” well at least they’re being honest, but it’s God word, it should be a top priority. “I don’t have time,” only 10-20 minutes a day to read a few chapters, but we have time to watch tv for 4 hours every might. “I’ve read enough of it,” well you can never read enough, each time you read it you will pick up something new that you missed other times. “I don’t agree with what it says,” you don’t agree with God, as John Crist says, you need to check your heart. “I don’t read books,” well I bet you stare at your phone for hours reading stuff on it, there is a Bible app. “I’m intimidated by it’s size,” sometimes I’m intimidated by a foot long sub, but it take it down one bite at a time. “I don’t own a copy,” once again there is an app. “I use other spiritual books,” oh the books written be men going off the Bible? Yeah, I would go straight to the source. Then the “none of these excuses”, the my excuse is so bad I don’t want to say what it is.

There are hundreds of excuses we can make not to read the Bible. But that’s what we need to be reading so we know what is right and wrong. It’s a book we should be reading through our whole lives, not like a novel where we read it once and then throw it on the shelf. Each time through, new insights will be revealed. The Bible references itself so much, that gives new connections every single time read through. It doesn’t have to all be read at once. Reading a couple of chapters a day will do wonders!

As men, if we are going to be leading our families, we need to stay away from evil and not let it in our households. To do that, we need to be in the book that tells us what is evil, and we should hate it and not want to be near it!

Works Cited:
Bob Smietana, “LifeWay Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read It”, LifeWayresearch.com, April 25, 2017

Thursday Thoughts: Why I Don’t Use My Bible App for Bible Reading.

As our phones and tablets are integral in every aspect of our lives (seriously, I turn my lights on with my phone), Bibles are also making their way onto our phones/tablets. Working the sound booth at church, I have a good view of what people use, and quite a few are using an electronic devise for their Bible (or games. . . yeah I see you).

As electronic reading devices have become more popular over the years, you hear people say I rather have a book in my hand. I want to feel the pages and smell the book. Full disclosure, I fall into this category. That musty smell and flipping through the pages lets me get my mindset that I’m going to be reading. Flipping through the pages is almost an encouragement to keep moving forward, and as you see the pages go from a stack on the right side to piling up on the left side of the book, there is a sense of accomplishment. For me, I could read twice as much on my tablet and feel like I’ve read way less than if I flipped through a book.

So what does my need to smell musty pages have to do with Bible reading?

Per a Dartmouth study, what you read on a screen compared to paper does have a difference when it comes to recollection. The study found that screen reading helped with learning concrete facts, reading off paper helped with abstract learning. So if you want to remember dates, the computer screen shows better results, while wanting to learn why those events occurred, reading off paper is better.

Screen reading has also shown that people tend to read faster or more likely skim, therefore not picking up as much information while reading. Reading off the screen also creates less of an experience making it where people tend to have difficulty reading long text, which leads to minimal comprehension.

Once again, what does this have to do with Bible reading?

First, our Bible reading should be about quality, not quantity. People are more likely to skim and speed read when using a computer screen, which leads to less comprehension. If I’m wanting to get the most from my Bible reading time, I want to comprehend it as much as I can.

Second, to understand what is going on and the why of events, it’s been shown that reading off paper gives better results. Can God speak to us and guide us if we’re on an electronic devise? Yes, but getting yourself in a better environment to do that is only going to help you understand what you’re reading and get a deeper meaning from it. We don’t go read our Bible usually in a noisy room.

Third, for me I can picture where I read something. If I need to find a verse or passage, I have a lot better chance to find it in my Bible by remember what side of the Bible or which column it was on.

Do you only use your hard copy Bible?

Nope, just as I mentioned in my third point up above, sometimes you have to find a passage and if you don’t know that verse or general location, the Bible app comes in handy, it’s far easier to search for terms or a phrase, than search your whole Bible.

In reality, it comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. I prefer to be able to jot notes down while I read. I like to make arrows and draw those points to other verses. I find it more difficult to do that on the apps. I’m also more likely to remember ideas I jot down, instead of when I type it. So for me, I’ll be sticking to my physical Bible when I do my reading.

Works Cited
Ferris Jabr, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” Scientific American April 11, 2013

Maria Gilje Torheim , “Do we read differently on paper than on a screen?” Phys.org, September 21, 2017

Michael Lazar, “Study Finds Difference In Recollection From Screen Reading Vs. Paper Reading”, huffpost.com, May 30, 2016

Are We Merciful?

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.—Psalm 86:5

Are we plenteous with our mercy? 

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  Every day we are in a position to receive mercy, but more importantly we are in a position to show mercy.  We can show mercy physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

We always want people to show us mercy, but roles are reversed and we’re the ones in a position to show that mercy, we seem to be less willing to.  We want to exert or take out our anger on others.  We want others to feel our hurt or pain.  At some point in our life we will all need mercy.  The old adage of treat people how you want to be treated should be applied here. 

The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is a good example.   The Samaritan could have used the fact he was a different race/culture not to help the man that had been beaten and left to die.  But he took action and helped the man.  He took care of his wounds and paid for his care.  Are we willing to show that compassion or mercy?  Many of us would not want to be bothered or say it takes too much time.

And rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God:  for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. –Joel 2:13

Are we slow to anger?

As mentioned above, we always want people to be merciful with us, not to get upset at us easily; but we are completely different when we are not in the vulnerable spot.  We need to be slow to anger.  We need to give people the benefit of the doubt.  We never know what that person is going through that day.  Maybe that person that is driving slowly has to go to a cancer checkup know that it’s not going to go well.  The person that is crabby at work is trying to figure out how to pay all the bills.  We never know what is going on in someone’s life that impacts their behavior.

Being slow to anger keeps our emotions under control.  When we get angry we are not thinking correctly or in a rational manner.  We are less likely to show the mercy we should, when we have anger.  As men, we need to show mercy as God does with us.  We don’t deserve his mercy and compassion, which means we should be so much more willing to show it to others. 

Don’t Be An April Fool All Year Around

I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: The would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Proverbs 1:26-30

We have all been in the situation where we try to help someone out and they just don’t want it. No matter how much we try, they push away sound counsel. They sit there and complain more and more about how bad their situation is getting.

Or what we see is that someone keeps doing something that is wrong or harmful to themselves. They say I have to stop, I’m going to change. A few days later, they are doing the same thing again, with the same reaction: I have to stop, I’m going to stop. Repeat this several more times, and your compassion starts to run out for them. We start to blow off their claims that they are going to get better or make a change.

How many times is this in our own lives, where we say we are going to change something in our life? We are going to quit a sin. Yet even minutes after saying that we do it again.

Proverbs 1:26-30 is pretty clear, eventually God is going to have enough of our false claims to change. God has given us black and white standards of right and wrong throughout His Word. To go against them can bring tragic results in our lives. The eventual price we pay for sin is anguish, suffering and even disaster.

We would be wise not to keep making false claims to change, but to ask for a change in heart so that a true effort can be made to change. Otherwise we are just fools.

Stroll Through the Woods

To see a few more pics from the hike go to my instagram here.

It’s a great time of year with the trees starting to bud out (minus the allergies), flowers starting to spring up, and the grass starting to get green. It’s good to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Get some fresh air. Why is it good to get out in the fresh air?

Fresh air has health benefits. It has been shown to help with food digestion, improve blood pressure, and build a strong immune system.
Increases your happiness. Higher levels of positive emotions were associated with less smoking, more physical activity, and more sleep quality.
Fresh air cleans your lungs. Fresh air causes the airways of your lungs to dilate more and improves the cleansing lung action.
Associated with more energy and more focused mind. Research has shown up to 90% increase in energy.

Works Cited

  1. Seepter, Urmet. “6 Important Health Benefits Of Fresh Air I Good Relaxation.” Good Relaxation, 21 Nov. 2014, goodrelaxation.com/2012/01/health-benefits-of-fresh-air/.
  2. Wise, Abigail. “Why Getting Fresh Air Is So Good For You.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 8 Aug. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/08/tk-ways-fresh-air-impacts_0_n_5648164.html.
  3. Sample, Ian. “Weekend workouts can benefit health as much as regular exercise, say researchers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 09 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.


Balancing Act

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me –Proverbs 30:8

In Matthew 6:11 it says, “Give us this our daily bread.” This is representative of our need to have basic provisions. We should always pray to have enough income to meet personal and family needs, to further God’s work, and to give to those in need

In a previous post, “Raining Money Doesn’t Grow a Great Life” I discussed how many times we get caught up in making money and working ourselves to death, and we lose out on time with God, family, and friends. We lose our balance in life. Being at the extremes of money, i.e poverty or rich, tends to make people focused on money. It becomes a god to them.

God wants us to be building relationships, not tirelessly working. In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, God says there is a time for everything. There is a very delicate balance in life. Look at our own bodies, there are compounds, say potassium, that are needed for the everyday function of our lives. Potassium is vital in how our nerve cells send signals (click here, if you want to see how it works). Yet, if our potassium levels get out of whack, that can cause some serious issues, including death.

Proverbs 30:8 is talking about money and provisions, I think that meaning can go a bit further. We should have a balanced life. A balanced diet is thrown around a lot, and there is a lot of merit in that. We need nutrients from all sorts of foods. The same is with our whole life, we need balance. Too much play is just as bad as too much work. Too much money is as bad as not enough. Too much food is just as dangerous as too little food. Too much family can be just as bad as never being around family.

We have to have balance in our lives. This allows us to focus on the good instead of what comes from excess or drought extremes. When we are in need of something, our mind is focused on getting it. When we are in excess of something our mind is focused on getting more or keeping it. When we’re in the middle, we have what we need to sustain, and can focus on our relationship with God.