Character and Problems

Here I sit in variance – staring at the computer – arguing with myself as to how much material I should include in this blog. There is, as you can imagine, so much that one could say on this particular subject, but then I’m reminded that these blogs are, after all, only a stimulus designed to encourage further conversation. Therefore, I shall, momentarily, restrain myself with the fine art of simplicity remembering Robert Browning’s, one of the great late nineteenth century Victorian poets, advice in, The Faultless Painter, “Less is more.”
Having discovered the value of problems late in life I have concluded that there is no way I could accurately tell this story without introducing you to three rather thought-provoking words. Words that I believe give purpose to our understanding of human problems: character, choice and change. Separately they speak volumes concerning our topic, but whenever we combined together they create a spiritual recipe that takes our appreciative of life to an entirely different dimension. A dimension that offers such understanding and freedom that, here again, given my way I wished I’d embraced it years sooner.
This welcomed awareness begs the first of several noteworthy questions, “What is character?” One dictionary defines character as “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In another dictionary, character is said to be “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.” Regarding character Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Not in clamor of the crowed street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge  yourself one.”
“Character is the essential and moral qualities of a person” according to Mr. Webster, “It is what you are from birth to old age, it is what you make of yourself, the automatic mustering of defenses in preparation for a flight.” Abraham Lincoln said, “Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.” Thus our character is not limited to that person whom we often parade before others; it is the person we become, during the twilight hours, when we think no one is watching.
Speaking academically, “Character is the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.” However, speaking practically, and this is the point around which I wish to spin my story, character, in general terms, is not defined by what we say or what we believe. But rather character is illustrated by the choices we make. I need to repeat that with a refining addition. Character is illustrated by the choices we make regarding the problems we encounter. In other words whenever value, decision and action are united through choice, character is the assumed result that readily reflects not only our perception of reality, but the moral philosophy, including the governing spirit, hidden within the heart of the decision maker. This definition, at least in my opinion, is very scary as it cuts to the quick of who we really are. True character is revealed under pressure.
You may be wondering what is it that awakens the synergy between character, choice and change (or spiritual maturity). At least that’s what I’ going to assume you’re thinking. Well, my conjecture is this: problems – problems – problems! Life is full of problems – literally – wherever there is life there are problems. Ask anyone who is serious about living their life in a meaning way and they will tell you that managing their behavior under stress is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of their life.
Let me take it one step further – adding insult to injury – not everyone will be able to accept what I’m about to say as within our comfortable society prosperity is often overrated while problems are often underrated. But it is in inevitable problems are here to stay and if your dreams of the good life are in any way dependent upon a problem free environment you’re in big trouble. In fact, if such is the case, you need to go back and re-read the fair-tales of old. The nemesis is alive and active throughout the kingdom and the problems we encounter have kingdom purpose.
My point is simple. We can’t run away from our problems the world isn’t big enough. However, just because problems are here to stay doesn’t mean we need to succumb to their unyielding ways. The bottom line is this: without problems we’re not going anywhere. Life under the sun is dependent upon problems as problems are the motivation behind the greatness of our character. Think about it this way, problems do not despair because of our circumstances but rather our circumstances despair because we lack an understanding concerning the value of our problems.
In other words, we need to change our way of thinking. Problems are a necessary tool in the hands of the Almighty. Accept the truth – problems are here to stay – take advantage of them. Consider them your friend. Other than the certainty that comes as the result of understanding our problems there is simply no other path leading to the door of a maturing joyful life. James the half-brother of Jesus put it this way, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1: 2-4).
Adding to our treasury of biblical understanding concerning our problems Peter gives us yet another perspective on the value of trials. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 1:5-7).
Or, expanding on our concept of values even further, we could view our trials as the Apostle Paul viewed his. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Whichever one of the these you elect to focus on, James’ concept of trials and maturity, Peters’ concept of trials and refining fires, or Pauls’ concept of lasting values we simply must change our perspective concerning God and trials. Trials are designed with purpose. Envision with me the enslaved Ebenezer Scrooge sitting behind his accounting desk seeking an explanation for every penny spent.
Now, allowing for the image that James presents, “Consider it all joy…” or as the King James translates it “Count it all joy…” (Emphasis on the word “count”) envision with me the perplexed, yet engaged disciple sitting behind his desk, bible in one hand journal in the other, seeking an explanation concerning the merits of his problems. In other words, as the enslaved Ebenezer Scrooge squeezed value, (calculated value) from every cent spent so the maturing disciple, looking for heavenly treasures, (eternal value) intentionally and with purpose, examines every problem God sends his way.
Why are you looking at me like that? You know as well as I do that these assessments usually take place (mostly for the purpose of sustaining our complaints) without rational thought so why not do it intentionally and with wisdom. Why not explore the trial for the sole purpose of mining the gold that leads to character change. Consider this –the association between character and choice in the mind of James, Peter and Paul is anything but academic. It is life. It’s not about performing; it’s not speculative, nor is it theoretical. It is by its very nature a supernatural quality outlining one’s personality. Therefore, a truly wise individual, making the best use of understanding, knowledge and experience, will, with composure, examine the problems of life, and make the necessary changes.
There is no other way to a joyful meaningful life. Character is not something that falls on us from out of the sky it takes discipline and lots of it. Would you permit me a discouraging thought with an encouraging application? Perhaps this is why there are so few men and women who truly radiate the transcendent life of Jesus Christ. If we want to inspire character maturity there is only one way to do it. Spiritual maturity is dependent upon the proper interpretation of our problems. Ultimately our character, working in cooperation with God, is the combined result of the changes we choose or choose not to make as a result of examining our circumstances, identifying our problems and applying Godly solutions.
To summarize – trials are inevitable; there’re going to come; we need to persevere and mature; we need to review and learn from them and the best way to make a problem less confusing is to confront it face to face with the intent of learning. Remember everyone makes mistakes – no one is perfect. Nevertheless, God does not intent for us to live our lives in a constant state of confusion he instead desires that we understand the purpose behind our problems and with that understanding he further desires that we make changes, immediately, and grow. “Lord – may our understanding of the problems we face and the character of goodness, without compromise, distinguish us during this season of ecclesiastical decline?” “Amen”
Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303; by Glenn T. Horne.

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Life is a Journey

Something to think about – “Life is but a stopping place, a pause in what’s to be a resting place along the road, to sweet eternity. We all have different journeys, different paths along the way. We all were meant to learn some things, but never meant to stay. Our destination is a place, far greater than we know. For some the journeys quicker, for some the journeys slow, and when the journey finally ends, we’ll claim a great reward, and find an everlasting peace, together with the Lord.” (Anonymous)

               I suspect you already know this but life is journey. A wonderful journey filled with lessons, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination. For example, when Solomon writes, “The path of life leads upward for the wise, that he may keep away from Sheol below” (Proverbs 15:24), he is using a metaphor that compares life to a journey.

               As Solomon noted the path we walk will not always be smooth. In fact throughout our travels we will encounter many situations. And just like everyone else on this journey your life will be filled with lessons, difficulties, heartaches, joys and special moments that will ultimately lead you to your destination. Some of these challenges will test your courage, your strengths and weakness along with your faithfulness to God. How you respond to these challenges will act as a moral indicator as to the path you have chosen – “upward for the wise,” -“Sheol” translated “grave,” or “house of the dead” for the foolish.

               Using this analogy we (I include myself) can now image life as a spiritual walk resourced by God’s wisdom. The amazing thing about this image is it gives us new insight into the world in which we live. Like every journey, there is a beginning, present state, and destination to life. Also, using this metaphor we can imagine several other things. For example, we can imagine Solomon as our travel adviser, the Word of God as our travel guide, and as a citizen of God’s great creation, we can imagine ourselves as the traveler’s.

               As such, not only do we have to decide which path we will follow but as engaged traveler’s we must decide which aspect of the journey we will mostly focus on. I realize that what I’m about to say could lead some to a misunderstanding concerning our eternal hope. But as much as I look forward to heaven and Jesus I believe we need to keep our feet firmly planted within the certainty of the moment. Yes we can anticipate a wonderful future, but that expectation is not meant to lessen the immediate. Two things are constant for each person on this journey. First, time stops for no one. The beginning is behind us and death is ahead of us. Second, no one has an infinite amount of time. Eventually we will all face death – the end of the journey.

               Let me therefore encourage you to make the most out of today. Allow me explain. I can vividly remember as a child what it was like to lose sight of the immediate and journey under the pressure of reaching the destination. As children, we were often expected to behave a certain way while traveling in the car. Most of our backseat activities were limited to sitting still, folding our hands and quietly looking out the window. Now, with six children in the vehicle this was not only understandable, but it was quite a challenge. It also meant that window seats were premium and therefore came at a high cost. This type of pressure tended to rob our trip of its joy. Unfortunately, I thought this was normal behavior and carried the concept with me into life.

               Then one day it hit me. As important, as it is to reach our destination it is equally important to enjoy the journey. When we travel with God, life takes on new meaning, each moment lived within the here and now is just as significant as all of our tomorrow’s including our eternity. It’s not necessary for us to sit quietly in the backseat, with our hands gracefully folded on our laps as we travel through life. God desires that we enjoy our journey home. Solomon puts it this way: “For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy” (Ecclesiastics 2:26). What a beautiful trilogy, “Wisdom and knowledge and joy,” collectively they illustrate what I believe to be one of the most difficult aspects of our journey, that is, balancing diligence with delight.

               We all want to experience the joy that comes from walking with God. But, we often fail to make the right choices. As a result, we find ourselves living under the pressure of performance. While we need the encouragement that comes from living in light of our destination, we do not need the pressure that comes from unwarranted concerns regarding our destination. So how do we get from A to Z, what are the guiding principles that allow us to enjoy the journey while honoring those principles that please God without becoming regimental?

               First of all we need to trust the Architect. Trust for most of us is a scary word. Especially in a world of other imposed suffering and pain. Consequently there is a legitimate limit as to how much we should trust not only ourselves but others and yet if we are to live our lives in such a way that our journey will not have been in vain than we simply must learn to trust God. I understand that deliberately trusting God is other than we are familiar with.

               But, and I cannot stress this strongly enough – if I’ve learn anything over the years I‘ve learned that God will never ignore those who truly put their hope and trust in Him. Take your relationship with God more seriously than any other relationship and you will not go wrong. God’s character is such that he cannot deny his children when they run to him for protection. In fact God delights in the child that seeks refuge in Him. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the almighty…” (Psalms 91:1). If that’s not enough reason to trust God notice verse fourteen in the same chapter, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him…”

               Next, we need to embrace God’s design for our lives. Embracing God’s design provides purpose for life. While there are many good causes to which we can invest our lives, the greatest cause is that for which God has design us. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” 

               No one has a more comprehensive understanding of who we are than the God who created us. Even before we were born he whispered in our ears his desire for our lives. The Psalmist David writes, “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Psalms 139:13-16).

               Finally we need to walk in God’s wisdom. It only makes sense that if God purposed our lives then true satisfaction comes only as we submit our lives to his guidance. Only God can provide us with the insight we need to make the right choices. It’s no secret that without God we tend to make decisions based on our immediate needs. As the design-builder of our lives God knows our journey from the beginning to the end.

               One of the many characteristics of his wisdom is his ability to see the eternal picture. He understands the minute details of every choice available to us, including its immediate and eternal results. Not only is he wise enough to design the best possible plan for our lives, he loves us enough to walk with us, step by step, day by day as he leads us to our ultimate destination. In order to experience the satisfaction that comes from waking with God we must value his thoughts above our own thoughts, we must listen carefully to what he is saying and we must persist on this course despite the obstacles.

               I pray that as you consider your life in this demanding and requesting world that you remember we are here visiting; we’re on a mission, a mission that requires we trust God, embrace God and walk in God’s wisdom. The life we live tomorrow is influenced by the life we live today. In closing I offer one final word of informative encouragement. Your life from start to finish is God’s gracious gift. So enjoy it, but remember we are accountable to God for the choices we make. “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things” (Ecclesiastics 11:9).

Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303, Glenn T. Horne

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A Few Notes Regarding Wisdom and Friendship

Over the course of my journey I have met with some very interesting people. Some I would consider friends, some I would consider acquaintances and some, well let’s just say that some I would consider morally unattractive. It is important to have friends. The value of a friend is immeasurable as Solomon indicates in the following passage: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastics 4:9-12).

Have you ever wondered what a true friend looks like? Better yet do you consider yourself to be a true friend? Behind every meaningful friendship there are a minimum of four virtues. While each quality is a merit that stands alone collectively they represent the classic pillars of friendship. Now, before we address those questions let me say upfront, that while there are numerous sociological and philosophical debates underway as to the purpose of friendship and where we go to find friends. I believe that if we limit the quality of this discussion to a few critical biblical values about our subject. Our impromptu seminar will be brought to a meaningful conclusion rather quickly. Not that I’m in a hurry mind you.

First there is the virtue of faithfulness. Faithfulness means that you keep your promise of friendship even if it costs you something personally. Even if it’s inconvenient and even if it’s not the safe or popular thing to do – keep your promise of friendship. “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Consider the Old Testament relationship between Jonathon and David. Jonathon honors his friendship with David even though it cost him the throne of Israel (I Samuel 20:42).

Second there is the virtue of truthfulness. Truthfulness indicates that the relationship is one of endurance and honesty. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). “A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps” (Proverbs 29:5). True friendship requires that a person be honest. We need people in our lives that we can trust to tell us the truth – even if the truth hurts. Shallow acquaintances are easy to come by, but they usually fade fast, leaving us immature. In other words a relationship that cannot withstand the truth is morally impractical. Consider the Apostle Paul as he confronts Peter concerning his treatment of uncircumcised believers (Galatians 2:11).

The third virtue is council. This is critical for several reasons; true friendship needs the reassuring benefit of a concerned counselor; “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend” (Proverbs 27:9). This council includes, much to our chagrin, the beneficial clash of healthy personalities: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Working together, much like the account where Nathan confronts King Dave in Second Samuel 12, these features stimulate are relationships with one another inciting greater ethical activity.

The fourth and final virtue is discernment. I have identified three areas where, as a devoted friend, we need to be sensitive. 1) A true friend knows when it’s time to go; “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Lest he become weary of you and hate you” (Proverbs 25:17). 2) A true friend knows not only what to say but how and when to say it; “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him” (Proverbs 27:14). And, a true friend knows the harm that misleading jesters can cause. “Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, Was I not joking?” (Proverbs 26: 18, 19). Practical jokers seldom stop to think about the consequences; sarcasm disguised as a joke will ultimately destroy a relationship.

In summary, I offer this definition and thoughts on the biblical nature of friendship. “A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself.” This quote, author unknown, aptly describes the role that a friend plays in our lives. While we will encounter many acquaintances as we journey through life, as fair-weather friends are many, there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. “A man of many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Remember; as we are prone to think only of friendships that might benefit us we are urged by God to give this same consideration to others. Take time to be someone’s friend today. Knowing that; “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastics 4:9-12).

“It is my joy in life to find, at every turn of the road the strong-arm of a comrade kind, to help me onward with my load. And since I have no gold to give, and love alone must make amends, my only prayer is, while I live – God, make me worthy of my friends.” Frank D. Sherman

“A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world has gone out” (Unknown)

Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303, Glenn T. Horne

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by | August 7, 2013 · 3:41 pm

Solomon Joyfully Announces the Birth of Lady Wisdom

Concerning the Birth of Wisdom…Every now and then we receive an invitation that’s so wonderful it’s hard to turn down – For example, imagine receiving an invitation to attend a presidential inauguration or the coordination of a king. Wow amazing right. Well what if I could wave a magic wand and summons a real invitation that would allow you to witness the birth of wisdom. Would you be interested? If so keep reading because not only is possible to have a personal relationship with wisdom – it’s actually possible to attend and observe, through the animated word, the exact moment of her birth.

The voice of Proverbs 8:22-31 reminds us of this possibility. It is in fact, a special invitation from her eminence, Lady Wisdom, to join with her as she explains to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see the scrupulous details of her mysterious birth along with the utter delight of witnessing the grandeur of God as he constructs the universe. This passage presents itself in such lively form that I am compelled to share it with you verse by verse along with the verse tags for further reference.

Verse 22 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. V-23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. V-24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. V-25 “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; V-26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. V-27  “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, V-28  When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, V-29  When He set for the sea its boundary, So that the water should not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; V-30  Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, V-31  Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.

With an applicable and pleasingly dedicated imagination I can envision the preceding passage as a grand, personal, invitation to witness the mysterious yet miraculous birth of her eminence Lady Wisdom. It’s possible that the following illustration, most fitting I might add for the occasion, will help to shed some light on what I’m saying:

Dear Descendants of Adam and Eve,

This is a letter of invitation regarding my friend, Glenn, who will be attending the supernatural events conference that surrounded my birth. As you can see in verse 22 I was conceived by the Lord in the beginning of his way before he involved himself in creation. I use the phrase “in the beginning of his way” because in human understanding there is no reference point from which to measure abstract truth.

Glenn will be staying with my family during this presentation. We will be responsible for all room, board, transportation and medical care during his absence. There is no need for concern as my father has adequate resources to cover any and all of his expenses while he is here.

He understands that he cannot entangle himself with the ways of the world while he is here or use this opportunity as a means of pride. And we understand that we can be held responsible for miss-guiding him.

In verse 23 you will notice that I was selected by God from eternity before the world began to accomplish some specific function – you may also notice that you are not specifically inform concerning the nature of that appointment at the time of my birth. Don’t miss-understand what I’m saying. This understanding is available; however you must pursue this truth on your own as you seek council from God’s word, his son Jesus, learned men, and creation herself.

In verses 24, 25 and 26 you will notice that when there were no oceans, before the mountains were settled, before God made earth and the fields, before there was dust in your domain, I was brought forth from the bosom of God.

In the remaining verses you will notice that while I was brought forth from the bosom of God during his creative work I was, in actuality, already a part of God. In other words, my birth was merely an introduction of my pre-existence into the world. As everything that came into existence (visible and non-visible alike) was first conceived in God’s mind. The implication is that through God’s power I took the concrete form of the realities you see today.  Therefore whenever “You listen to the heavens as they tell of the glory of God,” (Psalms 19:1), you are actually listening to me as I worship him who created the universe.

We are excited and look forward to seeing Glenn and at his request we extend an affectionate invitation to you as well. You don’t need to reply to this invitation as we have a grand outdoor theater and plenty of room for the guests of our guests. Hope to see you at the upcoming presentation.

You may notice as you read the word the God, especially the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastics, that I am described by Solomon as “The Lady” who delights in being in the presence of God. I hope the same can be said of you.

In closing let me say: “Take my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold.  For I wisdom am better than jewels; And all desirable things can not compare with me.”

Sincerely yours,

Lady Wisdom

Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303, Glenn T. Horne

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Living for God’s Gory Requires Dedication and Constraint

You may recall in our last blog I stated, “The incentive for others to change must come through lives that are committed to living for God’s glory (something I hope to talk about in the next blog).” Well this is the next blog and I would like to share a few thought on wisdom and living for God’s glory.

What does it mean to live for God’s glory? Before you answer let me ask you something that may change your life forever.  Are you ready to live your life for God’s glory in any situation? If your answer is no, then you need to seriously consider closing this blog and doing something else with your time. As this blog has been carefully design to encourage a life of true submission, a life whose ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God.

There is no way we can unlock the treasures hidden within the mind of God by asking, “What’s in this life for me”? We must ask ourselves, “How can I use my life to glorify God?” and, we must allow Him to direct our thoughts and chart our lives. As difficult as it may be, we need to ignore the prevailing voice of our culture and start listening to the voice of God. We need to involve ourselves with His counsel.

Living for God’s gory requires dedication and constraint – interestingly enough – constraint denotes the freedom we experience as we submit to the teachings of Jesus. Making this decision is not going to be easy, it will require want to and discipline. Keep in mind, however, that it is not a matter of perfection; it is a matter of perspective. God understands the desires of our heart and He is wise enough to know that we are not perfect. Now, if you are willing to amend your ambitions and embrace God’s design for your life, then let us move ahead. Knowing that anything less will only lead to frustration.

As I look back over my life, I remember many selfish decisions. Like so many, I was overly concerned about me. I found myself serving God out of a meaningful value system, but I was not living for Him. He was speaking to me, but I was not listening. Don’t get me wrong; influenced by biblical values I knew what to say and when to say it, but I was not in touch with God.

While we were walking in the same direction, and I occasionally found myself holding His hand, in all actuality there was no meaningful relationship. I had no concept of personal association and the significance of living for His glory. Unlike Enoch in Genesis 5:24 who walked with God and was not because God took him. I walked with God and continued alone because I was unable to move beyond myself.

The possibilities of a better life appeal to me, and I understood that this “better life” involved God. For me, this reality was unavoidable. However, what I didn’t understand was how to move beyond the academia of knowing God through duty to experiencing the very presence of God in purposeful relationship. To put it another way, I was capable of managing my behavior, yet I was incapable of living for God’s glory.

Now I do not pretend to have all the answers, nor do I proclaim to understand the answers I have. But, I do believe I’m on the right path. What about you – what is your motivation for walking with God?  Are you duty bound, as I was, serving out of a sense of obligation and regulation, or are you truly free to experience the growth of a personal relationship with God? Walking with God is dependent on living life from God’s point of view. That means, there is no satisfaction apart from living for God’s glory

Let’s answer the pending question at this time. What does it mean to live for God’s glory? While there are no laws that regulate our faith. Let me say that again just in case you’ve never heard it before. “While there are no laws that regulate our faith.” I have discovered that there is a time-honored standard out of which we are encouraged to serve. We find this standard recorded for us in I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  The Apostle Paul, resorting to an act of creation, gives us a very vivid word description of what it means to live for God’s glory.

So let’s take a moment to consider it. The comparison is actually quite remarkable. Have you ever looked up and noticed that there is a big ring that surrounds the sun? Well, much as a ring of light surrounds the sun so the everyday mundane things of life surround the believer. Things like eating, working, interacting with others, or to paraphrase Paul, “It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing as all our activities planned – unplanned; necessary – unnecessary; just whatever you find yourself doing at any given moment during the day encircles our lives much as the halo surrounds the sun.

That means that regardless of what we are doing, as believer’s our actions draw attention to God. Now as you consider that ask yourself the following question. Do the disciplines and ethics of my life, when witnessed by others, regardless of how significant or insignificant they may seem to me; reflect my desire to live for God’s glory?

By drawing on Paul’s analogy to the Corinthians, we can examine the foundation to these questions without miss-interpreting the actual conclusion. We know from a technical perspective that the sun ring reflects the glory of the sun as a natural result of the indices of refraction within the atmosphere. Therefore we can know from an applied perspective that what others are saying about our walk with God reflects our spiritual condition. Think in terms of the recognition you receive as the result of living life and the acknowledgement you give to God. Then ask yourself these questions. Does my life unassumingly reflect the glory of God?  When others observe what I am doing, who receives the praise, God or me?

If there were but one maxim for living a meaningful life, then I would submit that it is to live for God’s glory.  And, if there were one evaluation of that maxim then I would submit that when others observe the activities of my life, they see the glory of God at work within me.  The desire to serve self can be overwhelming. Yet if you take a good look at the world around us, it is not hard to see what happens when man attempts to live for his own glory.

Now this may sound overly restrictive to many, but consider the life of Jesus the next time you’re tempted to seek unwarranted recognition. Despite circumstances and outcomes, Jesus demonstrates the priority of living for the Father. To even the casual reader it becomes obvious that He dedicated His life to both the work and glory of God, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do”(John 17:4-8).

Now I don’t know about you, but I want to know something of this dedication. I want to know and accomplish the work that God has given me to do and I want people to know that I’m serving God and not myself as I accomplish that work.  As you come to terms with these challenges, and the life you want to live ask yourself the following questions:

1) What does living for the glory of God mean? 2) Am I ready to start living my life for God’s glory today? 3) What evidence is there in my life that I’m listening to God? 4) What are others saying about my walk with God?

Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303,

Glenn T. Horne

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Giving God’s Wisdom Away

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).

C.S. Lewis makes the argument that modern society has put into jeopardy many traditional moral, ethical, and political issues. He puts much of the blame on modern education, whether formal or informal. I wonder what he would say in light of our open-minded culture today. It would seem, at least it does to me, that modern society is no longer in danger of losing its moral footing we are in fact falling.

So here’s my premise concerning the merit of this situation, the condition of our culture and the necessary work before us. The incentive for others to change must come through lives that are committed to living for God’s glory.

Before we proceed with the concept of influencing others, I would like to take a few moments to introduce a few critical points. I am constantly looking for some way to measure the distance between a moral society and Godly wisdom. Apart from knowing an individual personally, the distance between human wisdom and the desire to live a moral life tends to blend together with Godly wisdom.

The more I consider this challenge the more I am convinced that the answer lies within the origin of ones purpose for living. For example, while many of the people we interact with on a daily basis appear satisfied, they continue to experience a sense of emptiness. There is a lack of fulfillment that their careers, families, and hobbies can’t satisfy. Left unchallenged this dissatisfaction will lead to greater self-focus, more broken homes, and a lifetime of pursuing an unattainable sense of worth through acts of selfishness.

This doesn’t surprise me as our society tends to link success and satisfaction to self-gratification. Before we criticize what others are doing with their lives, we should concern ourselves with why they are doing it. The search for a true sense of worth will lead ultimately to one place. The wisdom that truly transforms and satisfies can only be found in a personal relationship with God.  Here then is the question driving my premise. How do we guide the hand of those reaching for satisfaction to consider life from God’s point of view?

The incentive for others to change must come through lives that are committed to living for God’s glory (something I hope to talk about in the next blog). I believe that those who are living for God’s glory, allowing Him to direct their paths, are the key to unlocking the treasures that will transform our society.  There is a supernatural attractiveness associated with a life surrendered to God. It’s an attractiveness born out of Godly wisdom.

Notice how James describes it in chapter 3 verses 17 and 18.  “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  Put another way, those who would lead others into a transformed life are those who openly live above the moral standards of a fallen world.

They desire peace and avoid conflicts, and are willing to be lenient when dealing with others. Someone who has a conciliate attitude ready to yield whenever necessary, who takes the initiative to forgive and whose compassion motivates them to give. Lastly, those who would lead others into a personal relationship with God live authentic lives, characterized by honesty and sincerity.

Notice how Paul describes it in his letter to the Colossians 4:5-6.  “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”  This is not the time to be bashful about our relationship with God. There is too much happening today that requires the influence of Godly lives.

The popular culture is seeking to eradicate its memory of purity and dependence on God. Our value system continues to encourage the accumulation of wealth, consumerism, pleasure, and things as the great satisfier. But neither is it time to throw our weight around, forcing our thoughts of God on others.

Sometimes we can be a little insensitive in our desire to influence others. While our motives may be honest, our tactics may be less than appealing. James indicates that the wisdom, which comes from God, produces a humility that provides a caring and unpretentious approach to life. His point is clear, Godly wisdom is reflected in the way we conduct our lives.

We could spend hours in philosophical disputes, defending our theology while exposing the inadequacies of the world’s value system and win the dispute. However, the battle for the mind is not about winning the dispute, it’s about changing the way people think and live.  Let us encourage the world to consider the value of God’s viewpoint, but let us do it through lives that have been humbled by the truth God.

Many people, myself included, started with a certain idea about the meaning of life.  As a result of those who showed me how to live, by living what they believed; I ended up with a completely different value system. I can easily remember those who influenced me to unlock the treasures of God’s mind. It was not because they had perfect understanding of their theology or were capable of defending it with eloquent speech.

What intrigued me the most was the way they faced the trials of life without complaining. For some uncharacteristic reason they seemed to have peace with the uncertainties of life.  Their lives were characterized by a reason, which demanded no explanation, but more importantly, a reason that offered no excuses.  The unspoken challenge of a life lived for the glory of God is invaluable.

It is very important that we understand our effectiveness in giving God away is associated with the consistency between what we believe, what we say we believe, what we are taught to do, and what we really do.  Consider these questions in closing: 1) What principles do you have in place to measure your satisfaction? 2) How do we guide the hand of those reaching for satisfaction, to consider life from God’s point of view? 3) How would you characterize those who introduce you to Jesus? 4) How important is it to live life from God’s perspective?

Respectively submitted on behalf of Richard and Penny Mierzejewski and the Gospel Supply Shop – 117 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050 – Phone: 740-397-3303,

Glenn T. Horne

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Heart to Heart on Wisdom

People are often puzzled when they look at the corruption associated with the world we live in, and when they try to reconcile that with their concept of a good and loving God they can’t help but ask, “How can this be? Something is wrong.”  Well something is definitely wrong and it’s not God’s fault. And that’s what I want to talk about. This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the subject of wisdom. Many of the excerpts are taken from a book that I have worked on and am excited to say is just about finished. The book is entitled, “In Search of wisdom, A Disciple’s Diary.” Now I’m not a prophet nor am I the son of a prophet but is seems obvious to me that the wisdom we need to reach others, to manage our lives, govern our countries, and operate the ministries God has entrusted us with is being prophetically dismantled by a culture of greed and selfishness.

As you consider these words from the pen of the Apostle Paul to his young understudy Timothy you will understand why I speak predictively. “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these” (II Timothy 3:1-5).

In light of this prophecy I’m convinced that the believer needs to deliberately, knowingly, on purpose, with intent consider the subject of wisdom. This wisdom I’m speaking about is not hidden, it’s not ambiguous, and it’s available for anyone who is listening. With that in mind, let’s get started. We often tell ourselves as we gather for birthdays – summer vacation and other such social events that everything is alright. And most of the time it seems as though this is the case but then that’s the outside – the external – the part we dress up for everyone to see. It reminds me of those elementary representations of “Show and Tell.” Remember those special days when the teacher would allow you to bring your favorite toy to class and present it to your friends offering some winsome explanations about where you got it and why you like it.

Well, laying all that aside, if I were to ask you, “What’s really going on in your heart – the inside life – that secret place that no one can self-dress and very seldom reveals?”  How would you answer me? Be specific because this is not an elementary school question. To be more precise when you take time to listen – what is it that your heart is really asking you to do?

A rather thought-provoking question to begin our fist blog wouldn’t you agree. But, my dear friend whatever is happening in your heart right now has more to do with shaping your perception of life than anything that you might bring to class and share with your friends. Let me illustrate what I mean. Imagine for the moment that you were capable of personifying that desire which most motivates your definition of the world in which we live. Don’t hurry – take your time and shape it well. As I have all the time in the world – in fact if you need to walk away and think about it for a while I would understand.

“Okay, do you have it?” If so there should be standing before you, in appearance, a most beautiful lady. Now I want you to look deep into her eyes and answer the following question. What image comes to mind when you consider the impetus of her heart, not yours, but hers’? Think twice before you answer because this is not about living a problem free, culturally fashionable life it’s about living the life of a redeemed person. Confirmed by the fact that while every person has their defining moments of great crisis and victories our search for significance continues.

As we consider the essence of the lady who influences there have always emerged, if you would allow me the privilege of being poetic,  two unique passions; two views of life; two roads to travel: First, from within arises the impulse of self: the meaningful life consists of involving one’s person in the ever-changing cultural ideas of value through experience. Second, from without emerges the motivation of an ancient truth: the meaningful life consists of living one’s life according to a set of unchanging eternal principles. My point is this, since before classic antiquity these Cinderella’s dressed for the ball have rally for our attention. In other words they each want your dance card.

And yet, as Solomon indicates in Proverbs 14:12 the way of the one is the way of death. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” While her enticements are appealing she lacks the integrity of dancing before the King. If you can grasp this concept nothing will impede your journey. Solomon puts it this way in in the fourth chapter of Proverbs verse twenty-three, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

A careful reading of the contexts of this passage will reveal that Solomon is talking about living according to the unchanging principles of God’s word. There will be no lasting harmony in our hearts, no eternal dance before the king until we have peace with God. The two ladies by way of introduction are the precepts of God and the teachings of the world. One shows us how to live wisely and avoid the consequences of sin. The other encourages foolishness with the empty promise of pleasure followed by the sting of death.

Let me make my case by focusing on those whom seek ultimate meaning through the awareness of fashionable experience alone. Take a moment and reflect with me on the world in which we live. Could we not agree and honestly say that while we consider and delight ourselves in discussing the many facets of what’s right and wrong, especially as they relate to individual freedoms and experiences, that perhaps there is a spiritual side to this conversation that is missing in our daily lives?

For example, if living according to contemporary norms seems so right then why do we continue to struggle with and avoid responsibilities, commitments, and accountability? How would you explain our tendencies towards unwarranted self-focus coupled with low self-esteem and the unnecessary defense of proper actions? Why is it so easy to say, “Well, it’s not my fault” or to justify our actions by taking the “entitlement approach” to life? And, how would you explain the confusion that surrounds and separates social groups on moral issues?

I may be a little old-fashion, and many will agree with me on that point, but think about it for a moment. Our continued attempt to find meaning apart from God has not been very successful. This should not surprise us because ultimately the approval we seek must come from outside of ourselves. Apart from living according to God’s wisdom we will forever be unsatisfied. There may be brief moments of contentment as we entertain ourselves with things or thoughts of good fortune, but nothing in this world is capable of satisfying us long-term. The reality is our contentment, fixed by God in the order of creation, will forever be dependent upon a meaningful relationship with Him.

All right, so what does all this mean for us?  Let us assume, just for the moment, that you are interested in living your life from God’s point of view. And, let us assume also that the tendency of the world to romanticize sin by downplaying the value of traditional wisdom troubles you. Where do we go from here, and how do we get there? As we consider the state of the world, knowing that the reason a lot of people distrust the wisdom of God is because it runs contrary to what appears as their immediate need, we begin to realize that one of the most important things we can do is constantly evaluate the way we think.

Because, unlike modern and postmodern philosophies which seek a deeper existential understanding to find satisfaction, apart from living for God there is no lasting peace. The nature of our existence is such that we desire a world where morality and reason preside. That’s just the way it is, and the sooner that truth is embraced the less regrets in life. Therefore, we should welcome the opportunity to align our thoughts with his wisdom, to grow in our understanding of who he is, and take this message with us as we journey towards maturity.

Before I lay my pen down, completing this first entry allow me these questions – With whom are you dancing? With whom have entrusted your heart? Know this as you lay your head upon the pillow and close your eyes this evening. Eternal life…the abundant life only comes through knowing God and his son Jesus Christ. “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” (John 10:10, 11) –  “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Respectfully Submitted on behalf of my good friends at the Gospel Supply Shop downtown Mt.
Vernon, Ohio, Glenn Horne

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