Vitamins for the Soul

by Michele Laccabue

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I love summer! Time to refresh my soul. Time to rest and recharge. A time when I finally have time to read that 900 page novel under the shade of a palm tree. Can anyone relate?

Summer is also a good time to establish a new Bible-reading routine. Have you ever read the book of Proverbs over a month’s time? 31 chapters in 31 days. A daily dose of heavenly wisdom. The best kind of “One-A-Day vitamin”.

This July, I accepted the challenge. On day 10, chapter 10, God parked me on a word. He typically likes to get my attention by highlighting something at least three times. Ok, God, I’m listening. I wrote these verses in my journal:

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” Proverbs 10:11

“The lips of the righteous nourish many” Proverbs 10:21

“From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom” Proverbs 10:31

At first, I was drawn to the phrases: “fountain of life”, “nourish many”, and “fruit of wisdom”. I desire to be that person that speaks life into another, one that feeds a hurt, encourages a sister, and offers wise counsel. Show me Lord.

Notice the key word, the adjective that precedes each phrase…Righteous

 

A word I have seen numerous times, but, I have to admit, not much time has been spent thinking about its meaning. Honestly, the word is a bit daunting to me. It seems to be reserved for the Holiest of people and a lofty goal for someone like me. With close to 600 entries in the Bible (over 60 just in Proverbs), it is obviously important.

Righteous can simply be defined as: acting in a morally correct (right) manner. To go a bit further, it is: the conformity of heart AND life to the divine law. In other words, a righteous person is actively obedient, pure in heart, and dedicates their life to God and His Word. Yes, still daunting.

Thankfully, there is hope…

Righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe”. Romans 3:22

Jesus is the answer! All who believe and have faith in Jesus are gifted with righteousness. He is the one that demonstrated righteousness in the presence of man and sacrificially removed our “wrongs” so we look “right” in the eyes of God. As Christ followers, we ARE righteous! We are fountains of life. We are able to nourish many, be fruitful, and share His wisdom.

Continue the Proverbs journey with me…

Truly the righteous attain life” Proverbs 11:19

Righteous will go free” Proverbs 11:21

Righteous will thrive” Proverbs 11:28

The house of the righteous stands firm” Proverbs 12:7

Heavenly Father, We praise you! You are alive in us, working in us, energizing us. Because of you, we are righteous and able to do the right thing and use the right words to bring life to others. Thank you for the wisdom we gain through the scriptures. Help us to conform our hearts and lives to your ways each and every day.   Amen

 

Summer Slide

by Wanda Grimsley

 

Have you ever heard educators refer to something called the ‘Summer Slide’? This is where kids can lose as much as 3-4 months of academic material or acquired skills if over the summer they do not engage in activities that help them retain what they’ve learned. The result is when they return to school in the fall, the first several weeks are spent playing catch-up or trying to re-strengthen skills they should already have mastered during the previous grade.

I am that parent who supplements my children’s homework throughout the entire school year, so we are indeed working through the summer, utilizing various websites, workbooks, and academic camps. I am usually intentional and methodical about it and whenever I’m not and feel my kids are being lazy thinkers or are under-stimulated, I scramble to find anything that reinforces, challenges, or stretches them…it keeps them growing academically and reminds them that this is important.

Slip-n-slide7_thumbWell, as women of faith, we have to guard against the summer slide, too! Some of us are not in small groups or Bible studies over the summer and attendance at church can be irregular, depending on our travels. This lack of accountability and fellowship can be a slippery slope (in addition to the chaos and leisure of summer) and can bring our spiritual growth to a screeching halt…that’s when it gets all messy. Thinking about that, I can see arms and legs flailing out of control on the old  ‘Slip ‘n Slide’…remember the ‘Slip ‘n Slide’ we hooked up to the water hose and played on in the backyard as kids? Those things are back, $10 or so at Walmart, crazy fun! But that kind of unchecked slide is not so fun in our marriages, our relationships with our kids, our thinking, our words, our hearts and our ministries. I also remember the nasty mud puddles that would develop around the Slip ‘n Slide; the wet grass that ended up in my mouth and hair, and the bumblebees that always lurked around the edges of our slide for some reason…Messy! And sometimes painful!

Like our kids in their schoolwork, we too can lose ground, but this is spiritual ground. Far more dangerous a slide, we then find ourselves back in old habits or crazy cycles, in mud and mire. Nursing all the stings and bruises sin leaves us with, we end up revisiting lessons and retaking tests we thought we’d already mastered with the help of the Holy Spirit.

So wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, whether you’re a new believer or you’ve been walking with God for years, please know that our salvation does not mean we have fully arrived at that place God wants to take us to. He has so much more for us.  Our walk with the Lord is just that, a continuous journey with God. It’s not something we acquire or accomplish once and then rest on our laurels. It’s God who does it anyway, but our part is surrendering the things that burden us and spending time with the Holy Spirit, over and over again. Lets avoid the Summer slide together!

 

 

 

 

The Discipline of Service

By Nancy Strackany

 

This summer I was in a group that studied the book, “Celebration of Disciplines” by Richard J. Foster. It is a wonderful book with deep insights into God’s heart for us. One chapter, The Discipline of Service, especially the service of small things, stood out for me. The author uses Dorcus, in the book of Acts, ”who made coats and garments for the widows,” as an example of “this service of active helpfulness.” This, Foster calls, the “simple assistance in trifling external matters.” These small things are often overlooked for larger types of service which as Foster says, “require great sacrifices for a moment, whereas small things require constant sacrifice”.

I am reminded of the everyday mundane chores, making meals, doing laundry, cleaning, picking up after husbands and kids. We give service as we do these things if we do them as unto the Lord. Our temptation to quit is great when we feel unimportant or unappreciated, or our talents wasted. But these are the very things that God wants us to prove ourselves faithful in.

Another example of small service is guarding the reputation of others, as Paul says, ”Speak evil of no one.” Gossip among women is sadly notorious and I admit to having gossiped myself, even within my own family. Fortunately God has helped me see and prepare for this temptation and to practice the discipline of holding my tongue.

Going a step further, the guarding of the reputation of others, is a service rendered when we not only refuse to gossip about someone but to let others know that we will not speak badly about anyone when the subject comes up. This kind of witness is one that isn’t often forgotten by those involved.

servinggodbyservingothers-620x263There is the service of being served. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, the ministry of the towel, as Foster calls it, Peter at first refused. But Jesus tells us that to allow other to serve us is an act of submission. And in some cases a gift of love. Do we allow others to help us, or like myself on so many occasions do we have the attitude of I can do it myself. I’ve had a difficult time asking for help and God has shown me my pride in this. I felt because the way someone else might do it, it would be less well done, or more trouble than doing it myself.

I remember a time 44 years ago, on the first Christmas I was married. I had little money to buy ornaments for our tree and so found a pattern for some felt Santa Clauses. I remember none of the specific or the incident but my husband still remembers that I would not let him help. I am sure I thought, I am artistic, you are not, I want all the fun and satisfaction, and probably praise. But if my husband can still remember this, I know that God does. Allowing help, accepting a gift, saying thank you, letters of appreciation and encouragement, all acknowledge others and affirm their worth.

Throughout the year, the service of hospitality is also important. And it is one that is often overlooked because invitations are too complicated. People often want just companionship, not a fancy meal. They don’t care if your house is clean, they just want to get together. And while having a visitor we can practice the service of listening, For as Foster puts it, “an impatient half listener is an affront to the person sharing.” We, he reminds us, “would do well to listen to others in silence and see if we don’t hear God through them.” When we listen to others thoughts, fears, burdens and sorrows we allow the love and compassion of Christ to flow through us. This is a service we can share anywhere and as we start, Jesus will be our teacher.

Finally another small service is that we can share the word we receive from God, with others. No one person can hear all God has to say. We all receive God’s wisdom and we are expected not only to grow from it but to share it. Our prayer each day can be, “Lord Jesus, as it would please you, bring me someone today whom I can serve.”