Monday, August 3, 2020

The Waste of Haste - Martin Wiles


Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. Proverbs 19:2 NLT
“Haste makes waste.”
I heard the saying as a youth from various people, but who knew it came from the Bible. Soon enough, I learned the truth of the quote.
As a young boy—and even as a teen—I spent a large amount of time with my paternal grandparents. My grandmother performed babysitting duties so Mom and Dad wouldn’t have to pay a daycare fee. And since Dad had begun college to study for the ministry, that helped out tremendously.
In addition to being a nurse’s aide, my grandmother sold Avon (in the day when they actually went to people’s house, rang the doorbell, and said “Avon’s calling”). I loved to ride in her ‘50 something Chevy. What time we weren’t doing that, I sat with her in the living room and watched her crochet.
My grandfather drove an ice cream truck, and I spent summers helping him. Hopping up in the refrigerated back to retrieve or load ice cream was just the ticket on hot, sultry days.
As I spent time with my grandparents, doing the various things I did, they told me many stories. Mostly family stories. Stories about them growing up and stories about my other relatives. I wish now I’d written more of them down because as I get older my capacity to remember fades.
Both of my grandparents are now gone—and so is my father. Mom’s memory is fading, and she often gets the stories mixed up.
I recall something my grandmother said to me when I was a young man in my 30s, trying to make my way in the world and staying too busy in the process: “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.” I neglected time with my grandparents during that time—and my grandmother was right. A bleeding ulcer let me know. Haste does make waste.
What I’ve discovered is that I only have time to do what God wants me to do. That means establishing priorities and learning to say, “No.” If I put too much on my plate, I’ll make haste and not do a good job at anything.
God has a plan for each of His children. When we follow it, we’ll enjoy life as we could not otherwise. And we won’t have to run around like chickens missing their heads because God doesn’t expect us to burn out doing His work.
Don’t let haste steal your joy in life.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom to do only those things that are in Your plan for us and to say, “No,” to those things that aren’t.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Her Best Friend - Martin Wiles


For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT
She lay on her bed—her friend beside her.
For as long as I can remember, my great-grandmother lived with my paternal grandparents. I never knew my great-grandfather—or exactly why my great-grandmother came to live with my grandparents.
Since my grandmother served as my babysitter, I saw my great-grandmother almost every day. She always seemed ancient, but recently I calculated her age when I was a young boy. Just a few years older than I am now.
She and my grandmother loved to sit in the living room, watch game shows on television, and crochet. She also loved to plant and work with flowers in the yard and in her bedroom. What time she wasn’t in the living room, she lay on her bed in her room.
A plain wooden chair with armrests rested at the foot of her bed—a chair I now own. And in that chair, I often sat—watching her crochet, listening to her stories, and watching her best friend that never left her side. Her Bible always lay just beside her on the bed or on the nightstand beside her bed—another piece of furniture I own. And most proudly, I own her ragged Bible—the cover long gone, and the pages ruffled.
My great-grandmother came to mind one Christmas. I took out a small night lamp, turned it on, placed her Bible on the table in front of it, and turned the pages to Luke 2—the Christmas story.
My great-grandmother believed what the writer of Hebrews said about God’s Word. She kept it close by and always lived out its principles. Never once did I see or hear her violate any command of God’s Word. Her example taught me a lot.
Though aged, God’s Word is not dead. The stories still come alive when read, and the commands are still relevant. When read, God’s Word burns into our souls and becomes an instrument through which God confronts us with our spiritual needs—the most important needs in life. But the Word doesn’t leave us hanging with no hope. It gives us the solution to our dilemmas as well as guidance for every life situation.
Let God’s Word become your best friend.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us the most important book in the world.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Flashback Friday - Why Is It So Difficult to Live the Christian Life? - Martin Wiles

Why Is It So Difficult to Live the Christian Life?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT

Effort normally leads to success, but the battles along the way may be intense.

I suppose I never understood why I chafed any time someone told me I was wrong, that I should do something a different way, or that the quality of my work was unsatisfactory. Somewhere along my educational journey, I discovered the term Type A personality. Then I understood. I was one, and one characteristic was distaste for criticism and correction. Type A’s thrive on perfection…doing their best. When their best is called into question, they cringe. I was among the cringers. Age has tempered this trait in me, but occasionally I still find myself bristling when I’m criticized…even if it’s constructive. Read more... 

Tweetable: Do you find the Christian life difficult? 


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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Need Some Space? - Martin Wiles


He (God) is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. 2 Peter 3:9 MSG
Everybody needs space—some more than others.
Personal space. That area around me wherein if someone steps in I get uncomfortable or nervous. I fear, back away, or enjoy. The width of the space varies by individual. And usually by how well I know the person. The need for personal space is heard in the old saying when confrontation arises: “I dare you to step across this line.” And then the person draws one with the tip of their shoe.
Writers fear the white space. The area on paper we must fill up with something we want to write or have been contracted to write. And when we get brain block and can’t think of words to put on the paper, our panic level rises.
Prisoners have their space. Measured in small increments of feet, they exist there until their sentences are served.
Houses have space. Depending on the needs or wants of the owner, the amount is large, medium, or small.
Even gangs have their space. An area of town they control. People who enter without invitation face danger—perhaps even death. A space the gang controls and feels comfortable with.
And God has space—but of a different kind. He gives us space. According to Peter, He does this because He wants people to repent. He gives us space to believe—as much as we want. But not without consequence. If the end comes and we haven’t filled that space with belief, our eternity won’t be pretty. If we have, our eternity will be beyond our wildest imagination.
God gave this space from the very beginning when He gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey or disobey Him. He wanted to have a relationship with them, but He wanted them to want the same thing.
God doesn’t force us to fill up our space with Him. If He did, He’d have only robots—and these wouldn’t provide the fellowship He desires. He wants us to willingly choose to let Him into our personal space.
Experience the most enjoyable life by allowing God into your personal space.
Prayer: Father, may our lives always be filled with the beauty of Your presence.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Working for Whom? - Martin Wiles


And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do! Psalm 90:17 MSG
I wondered if what I did really made a difference.
I am a teacher—or so it says on the outside of a door leading into my classroom. Middle School. Language Arts. Five days each week, more than one hundred students enter my door because the law says they must, and so do their parents. And when they enter, the law and their parents expect me to teach them what I’m paid to teach them. In my case, writing, literature, spelling, and grammar.
Since I’m also a writer, I love the subjects I teach. Not much preparation required. I teach with enthusiasm, wanting them to understand how important good communication is…desiring that they love good literature which can take them to worlds they may never visit and open their minds to things they’ve never considered.
But I’ve not always enjoyed my jobs. Some titles I hated. I worked there because I had no other choice. I didn’t like whom I worked for, the place I worked at, or the salary I drew. In some cases, I didn’t even care for the people I worked with. I labored with a frown on my face and dreaded every day I had to enter the doors.
My perspective hasn’t always been a good one. According to the psalmist, however, I don’t work for a person, but for God. When I have that perspective, the possibilities are limitless and so is the way I conduct myself at my place of employment.
Rather than a job, my employment becomes a mission field. In my present case, that’s easy. I teach at a Christian school and can say God’s name and teach biblical integration as often as I want. Not so with every job I’ve had. Speaking about Christ could have gotten me laughed at, warned, or even fired.
No matter what we do, God can confirm and affirm that work. We work for the Lord, not the one who signs the paycheck. God can help us transform the atmosphere of the environment. We can smile, even when doing unpleasant tasks. We can show kindness, even around unpleasant work associates. And in so doing, we shine the light of Christ into our work world.
If your working world is dark, bring in the light of Christ.
Prayer: Father, may we be Your shining lights with every job You give us.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Throwback Tuesday - Will We Know People in Heaven? - Martin Wiles

Will We Know People in Heaven?

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. Luke 16:23 NLT

Good-byes are difficult; heaven is for hellos.

One of the beautiful assets of eyesight is recognition. I’ve lived in numerous locations and had the privilege of knowing hundreds of people. Some of the names I’ve forgotten, but when I see a particular person I’ve known I recognize their face. The thought of not knowing people in heaven that I’ve known on earth is troubling— particularly if it’s a family member. To be incapable of recognizing my parents, grandparents, children, or spouse would be disturbing. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you looking forward to seeing friends and family in heaven? 


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Monday, July 27, 2020

Looking Through the Optimist’s Lenses - Martin Wiles


This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NLT
I saw things one way; she saw them another.
Two weeks of late fall rain had finally ended. Muddy grounds, flooded rivers, and ill temperaments had characterized the southeastern United States for longer than most wanted. Finally, the rains ended. The forecast called for a week-long stretch of above-average temperatures and several days of dry, sunny weather.
I was glad. My daily late-afternoon walks had suffered. I longed to get outside, soak up some Vitamin D, and clear my mind. As I walked into a neighboring subdivision, I noticed an elderly lady with her walking cane taking a short walk.
As I passed her, I remarked, “Sure is good to see the sunshine.”
Her response perplexed me, “Yea, but it won’t last long.”
I chose optimism about the day; she chose pessimism. Sure, I knew another front bringing rain was due to arrive in three days, but I planned to enjoy the sunshine in the meantime. So I kept walking with a smile on my face and my eyes lifted upward at the cloudless sky.
I don’t know what type of weather characterized the psalmist’s world when he penned the above words, but it probably didn’t matter to him. Reading everything else he has written causes me to believe he was an optimist. Regardless of the weather—or the circumstances—he viewed the day as one God had made. That in and of itself was enough to make him rejoice.
God gives us the power to choose our perspective. We can see the sun—or think about the rain that’s coming. We can accept that life will throw difficulties our way and face them with a smile, or we can let depression, disappointment, and despondency rule. We can choose optimism—or pessimism.
God also gives us the ability to choose our attitude. A good one will attract others to us and to the God we serve and believe rules our circumstances and the world, but a bad one will shoo them away. 
God can help you see life through an optimist’s lenses. Just ask Him.
Prayer: Father, give us the faith to choose optimism, even when pessimism would come easier.

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