Tag: contemplation

I am the Lord and there is none beside me.

Isaiah 43 is one of the most wonderful chapters in all of scripture. (Of course I say that about a lot of chapters.)

But what draws me to this particular chapter is how many times God draws attention to his own lordship. God is not capable of arrogance as it would sound coming from human lips.

He’s doesn’t repeat this time after time for his own benefit but for ours. He is reminding us that he and he alone deserves to be called the one and only Lord.

He goes on to recount his creation of all living things on this earth, we humans in particular. Paul quotes Isaiah 9b, “Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” In Romans 9: 20-21, it states that we are his to shape and mold as he sees fit without question.

To give someone else control isn’t easy. Giving our government control over our actions isn’t easy. None of us like being told where we can or cannot go.

But maybe we can use this restriction on our lives as a way to remind us that this is how we are supposed to place ourselves in the Potter’s hands to do with as he wishes.

Think of this portion of scripture the next time you bristle about your restrictions and confinement. Let those feelings of irritation remind you, remind me, that we are usually wrangling with God over these same control issues.

Assuming we are in right relationships with God, his molding of us will only draw us closer to him and his purpose for our lives.

If we are not in right relationship with God, he will have to continue getting us back to that starting point as a lump of clay and start all over again, many times all over again.

Doesn’t it make sense to cooperate with him the first time?

Let’s allow God to really shape us during this shut-down. Let’s think through our reactions about giving up control and try and determine if we treat God this way sometimes. Is there a correlation? Can we learn from this how it feels to give God control?

I wonder why we are all looking for something to do. I’ve even got a post coming soon with some ideas for you. But I wonder, why are we trying to occupy every minute?

I’m guessing it’s because we’re scared and being busy helps. But I’m not sure that’s so good. So while I, too, am getting bored and want to fill every moment, I’m also trying to make sure I have plenty of contemplative time. I want to think about this crisis and how it can make me stronger in my faith walk.

What about you? Are you taking time during this quarantine to simply think?

God bless and stay safe.

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dining room/2018

How critical thinking aids in problem-solving

(This is an older post but it still “works”. )

Let’s face it. Critical thinking is most important when it comes to problem-solving.

I think I have a good example.

As you know, we are considering a move in the next few years. The very first thing my husband and I did is to ask ourselves, “Why?” I mean why was it necessary? Were we just following after the tradition that says when your kids are grown up and gone, you should downsize? We quickly decided that was faulty reasoning. Just because other people do something is no reason all on its own that we should.

So then we looked critically at our house and our yard. We thought about adding an addition so we would have a downstairs bedroom. That would be the least expensive thing to do but that makes the house even bigger. Do I want that?

As far as the stairs, research has shown that people live longer when they have stairs. (Assuming one doesn’t fall.) But we use the banister religiously, plus we’re a long was off from what we consider old. And besides, most falls are not stair-related. So that wasn’t that a valid argument all by itself either.

We looked at our big yard and that turned out to be easier to solve than we thought. We’re eliminating my gardens, which I’m totally fine with, and cutting down some large grasses that have to be trimmed every fall.

grasses/inspirational/informational

We live on a hill and we’d already decided last year that when the driveway is too slippery, we simply won’t walk down it to get the mail. If it’s a day we plan on taking our walk, we have workout equipment downstairs. That problem solved.

Can you see that we are problem-solving throughout all this?

But even after all this, we asked ourselves, “Were there other reasons to move?” Our floor plan is awkward. We have rooms we never use. We have no place to easily pursue our interests except for the basement which we will inexpensively update this winter.

And finally, we decided that we are not moving somewhere that we don’t really, really like. Why should we? We’ve taken care of most of the issues that were causing us concern. We continue to look at all the houses available for sale. We continue to clean-out all the items we wouldn’t move. (I am really using my critical thinking skills with this job.)

What wouldn’t have been critical thinking is to have just decided to move without considering all the things we don’t like at our present place. Because that could well mean we would end up with a house we didn’t like and didn’t serve our needs.

Learning to problem-solve is one of the most important skills we can learn. But if we haven’t developed our thinking skills, our problem-solving skills won’t be there either.

When we are problem-solving, we need to keep our emotions in check. I love my home. It’s a real farmhouse before farmhouses were cool. I love my big walk-in food pantry. I love my high ceilings and my dining room.

dining room/2018

living room/dining room/2018

I love my living room.

living room/decorating/DIY

But I can’t make my decisions based on my emotions.

We have time to make this decision. That’s not always the case. Some problems have to be solved immediately.

But if we hone our thinking skills, when we find ourselves in a crisis we are already ahead of the game.

God bless and have a good day.

The post, “How critical thinking aids in problem-solving” appeared first on faithsighanddiy.

(PS. I’ve not mentioned principles of faith in this short series about thinking. I never make any decision (those for which I have time) without prayer and seeking God’s guidance based on His word. But I believe God intends for us to use all the abilities he gives us which means our critical thinking skills.)

 

 

 

 

 

How to make really good decisions

The need to make a decision seems to happen in bursts.

For example, we were remodeling one room in our basement. There were decisions after decisions after decisions. Do we install carpet tiles or vinyl planking? What color paint? What do we do about the trim?

Well, you get it.

Or when maybe you’re planning a vacation. Where are we going? Are we flying or driving? Do we want a warm climate or a hot climate. (You noticed I didn’t say cold.)

But then there are other times we think we have a decision to make and we really don’t. We can wait and see where God is leading.

Back to the basement remodel. We mulled over how to remodel the basement for a few months. We wanted to think and let our thoughts kind of “wander” and imagine. We did that, both of us separately.

Then as we had some ideas, we were able to narrow down our choices based on our budget and what we felt made common financial sense. Considering we are probably moving in the next five years, we came up with a plan.

When we bought our new truck, we used this same method of exploration, gathering information, financial consideration, and our own thoughts, all of it under God’s umbrella of his word.

We have learned that we can trust God to always lead us in the right direction when we take our time.

But, of course, there are times, we have to make quick decisions. If someone is having chest pain, we quickly call 911. No thinking here. And when we get to the hospital, there will be all kinds of decisions. You might think there are no decisions for you to make then but there will be.

When we have someone in the hospital, we should be alert to all that is happening around us. We need to ask questions, record what is happening, keep medical staff know about insurance coverage, etc. These are all decisions we make. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the hospital with any member of my family that I haven’t had many decisions to make.

During a crisis is not the time to develop good decision-making skills. Good decision-making skills have to be developed. They have to be honed when we have the luxury of time.

  • Think beyond the current issue. For example, if you make this decision, what are the possible outcomes” If you make a different decision, what are the possible outcomes? What are the possible outcomes if you make no decision?
  • Walk it into the future. If I make this decision today what will be the result a year, five years, down the road? For big decisions, it’s good to think about the long-term effects of your decision.
  • Gather information. This is a little easier said than done sometimes. There are times we don’t even know what information to gather because we are way outside our expertise. But if we take our time and allow ourselves to simply think, we will eventually figure it out and we’ll figure out what we need to know.
  • Pray about it. I generally ask God to put up a roadblock if it’s something I just can’t seem to come to a decision about. Other times, I pray that God will put the necessary resources, people, books, Biblical principles, and circumstances, into my path so I can make the best decision.

Even after all this, we can still make the wrong decision. If it’s a small enough decision, we can probably make it right. For big decisions, it may not be that easy.

“How can we make a wrong decision after all that?” you might ask.

We are human and often our human desires get in the way, despite everything. We are all perfectly capable of talking ourselves into something and then say God led us to that decision. I’ve seen it happen more than once. It’s amazing the way we can justify our own desires and then God the “credit”.

But here’s the important thing.

The closer we walk with God, as evidenced by the totality of our lives, public and private, we will find that most of the time we will make the right decision.

Some people are paralyzed by decision-making and often try to let others make the decisions for them. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in this. You will regret it for sure if it doesn’t work out.

Years ago a family member asked me to help her buy some furniture. I love helping people decorate but making decisions for what to buy is something I will never do again. She ended up taking it all back. Seeing as we have a really good relationship, I laughingly told her, “never again”. She laughed and I have kept my word.

Give your opinion when asked but never make a decision for someone else. The reverse is also true, don’t let other people make decisions for you.

The ability to choose is a great privilege. Don’t abuse it.

God bless and stay safe.

The post, “How to make good decisions.” appeared first on Under His Wings @faithsighanddiy.com.

prayer/e.m. bounds

An exciting new series on prayer

Starting in July, I am adding a new menu item. Do I sound like a restaurant?

What shall it be then?

An appetitzer? Main course? dessert?

I think we’ll call it the “tantalizer”.

Have you ever heard of E. M. Bounds?

If not, let’s just say that he has written more about prayer than any other author ever, 568 pages to be exact. The book I have contains all his books in one big volume. have had his book for years and when I want to torture myself I read portions of it.

I use the word “torture” because as the introduction written by Jim Cymbala of The Brooklyn Tabernacle says regarding his book, “You either stand near to enjoy its warmth or you move away because the flame seems too much to bear.”

I agree.

E.M. Bounds took the word of God literally in regards to prayer, something I think many of us don’t do. And that certainly includes me.

I think I am praying believing that if I believe what I’m praying, my prayers will be answered. (Yes, I mean it just the way I wrote it, convulted though it is.)

The truth, though? I think if I really did believe it, I would pray much bigger than I do.

Don’t look at me askance. How many you really believe that if you were to pray really big for something like world peace, it would happen?

I’m not saying it wouldn’t either.

All of this is just to point out that prayer, while really quite simple (after all, it’s only a conversation between two people), is complex. Not because prayer itself is complex but because we are. Prayers in the Bible are simple (and short, I might add), I wonder how we made it so complicated.  

The longest prayer is found in  Nehemiah 9:5-38, that’s only thirty-three verses. It can be read in a matter of minutes and yet is a powerful prayer.

E. M. Bound’s book challenges me and encourages me at the same time. (For some reason, I can’t download the image but you can find it here on Amazon.) And while I still maintain prayer is simple, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more we can learn.

I hope you will enjoy the excerpts that I will post on Mondays. Remember, 568 pages! So just giving you a few sentences every week isn’t even going to give you an inkling about the book’s depth of insight. I encourage you to buy the book or get it from your local library so you can pick it up if only to read a few sentences at a time.

God bless and have a great day.

The post, “An exciting new series on authentic prayer” appeared first on “Under His Wings” @faithsighanddiy.com

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