Tag Archives: Accountability

What in the World is a ‘Faithful Wound’?

28 Jul

I feel like I need a paraphrase of Proverbs 17:17 today.

“A friend loves at all times, and a sister is born for the days when you are craving every unhealthy food in history!”

I joke that I don’t need a personal trainer (OK, maybe I do), but I just need someone who loves me who will shadow me and slap every unhealthy food out of my hand.*

My husband jokes, “I’M not going to be that friend. I know better!”

I laugh, but that would be love, right?

Actually, that kind of friend really does love you. (And my husband has challenged my choices from time to time.)

Good, loving friends really do speak the truth and challenge you to confront the lies you’re believing, or the rabbit trails you’re chasing, or the foolishness you’re letting reign in your heart and life.

God-honoring friends encourage you to be wise and not indulge in anything that will harm you or prevent you from becoming the person God created you to be. They are wise counselors and we can trust their advice.

“The righteous is a guide to his neighbor.”

A good friend might “wound”* us with their advice, but they don’t wound us to hurt us.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern]….” (Prov. 27:6a AMP)

Faithful wounds.

The kind of wounds that come because a friend simply wants what is best for us and wants God to heal us of any sinful and harmful behaviors and addictions. 

It’s like the pain of setting a bone that’s out of joint. Sometimes there has to be some pain before we can heal.

There are times a friend will wisely overlook something in our lives, and that is grace in action.

But there are other times friends will lovingly confront us. And that is also grace in action. 

A true friendship is never threatened by disagreement or even misunderstanding that might come in times of loving confrontation. That kind of friend knows there is some accountability involved in a true, loving friendship.

Do you have a friend who is willing to love you enough to challenge you when you wander off the path of righteousness or are about to make a foolish choice?

If so, praise God for that friend. You desperately need her!

– Dawn

* Note: I’m not talking about any kind of abuse here. Just the “love-tap” of friendship’s wounds … much like the way we tap a baby’s hand and shout “NO” when the baby reaches for something that will cause harm.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of silviarita-Pixabay

More Than Deciding

14 May

A group of junior-level executives were participating in a management training program. The seminar leader pounded home his point about the need to FrogGraphic_LOLwithGod_Freedigitalphotosmake decisions and take action on these decisions.

“For instance,” he said, “if you had five frogs on a log and three of them decided to jump, how many frogs would you have left on the log?”

The answers from the group were unanimous: “Two.”

“Wrong,” replied the speaker, “there would still be five because there is a difference between deciding to jump and jumping.” *

LOL and ouch!

How many things have I “decided to do” but then failed to follow through?

  • Deciding to save money for Christmas.
  • Deciding to eat healthier.
  • Deciding to faithfully exercise.
  • Deciding to read through the Bible.
  • Deciding to memorize more scripture.

Decide … then follow through. Sounds simple enough. But then we trip up.

Why don’t we follow through?

(1) We are human beings—we’re still sinners.

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. … as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one. … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10, 23).

(2) We don’t always appropriate what God has done for us.

We need to take possession of what God has given us: eternal life, and the power to change. The power of the cross and Christ’s resurrection will change our lives, and we can begin to see that change as we practice acting on our identity with Christ.

Humbling ourselves and calling upon God for mercy and strength, we trust in the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) enabling us to produce good fruit. God is consistently conforming us to His will; by God’s grace we are continually making progress in becoming more like Christ.

We make progress one step at a time as we trust the Lord to work, strengthening us from within (Philippians 4:13).

(3) We don’t make any serious strategies.

I need to visualize the goal and ask the Lord to show me what I need to do to get to that goal.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The Bible says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel….” (Proverbs 15:22).

Plans aren’t meant to be “hope so,” but rather a step-by-step strategy for success.

Strategies might include getting good counsel, organizing time and effort to fit godly priorities, and creating steps of action that align with our purpose or mission statement.

(4) We don’t remember the source of our spiritual progress.

When we commit to the Lord what we want to accomplish, we can believe Him to “establish” our plans (Proverbs 16:3, 9; Psalm 20:4).

We seek  His desires and wisdom (Isaiah 28:29; 55:8).

We are meant to live in a state of dependence on the Lord for everything!

(5) We don’t discipline our lives. In other words, we don’t commit to implementing the strategies with a disciplined life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

In other words:

Envisioning a goal and making strategies won’t work if I don’t take disciplined action!

Self-Discipline may be painful, but it will yield blessings (Hebrews 12:11)

Along with self-discipline, there must be a heart attitude of willing sacrifice—a “whatever it takes” heart to follow hard after God’s will. We say, “Yes, Lord!” when He gives direction. Then we can set procedures in place to back up our willingness with obedience.

(6) We don’t take time to create a reliable source of accountability.

We are stronger in pursuing holy goals when others come alongside us. As iron sharpens iron,” friends can help and support us (Proverbs 27:17) and spur us on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Remember:

Deciding to make a choice isn’t the same as actually making the choice.

And in making the choice, we need to strategize, recruit support and remember where the power and wisdom come from to move forward and accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God.

Which of these points could help you move from deciding to doing?

 – * Humor: Cybersalt Digest, “Decisions,” 5-13-14

 – GraphicImage courtesy of japanachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 – Dawn

Use the Power of Suggestion for Good

12 Feb

It started innocently enough. I ate one Dove chocolate candy heart. It was wonderful.

Then I looked at the wrapper. (For those who don’t know, Dove candies have littleDoveCandyMessages sayings inside like, “Chocolate therapy is ‘Oh, so good.'”)

My candy wrapper said, “Do something spontaneous.”

So I grabbed another candy!

And inside that second wrapper? “Linger over chocolate longer.”

So I did!

I lingered and lavished creamy chocolate on my eager tongue. I spent the next 15 minutes unwrapping and savoring those little chocolate hearts—feeding my chocolate addiction!

And ingesting a total of 330 calories, 21 grams of fat and 29 grams of sugar (9 Dove hearts)! I calculated the devastation later, long after I mindlessly inhaled all that yummy chocolate.

Obviously, the power of suggestion in those little candy wrappers overcame me. They did not do me any good (other than the momentary, delicious taste!)

The power of suggestions is that words can motivate us to make choices—good and bad—and our choices shape our reality.

Think about it.

  • If a nurse tells you a shot is going to hurt, wouldn’t you tense up? But if the nurse tells you it won’t be too bad, you’d probably relax (a bit).
  • If a teacher tells you a course is going to be difficult, it might cause you to buckle down and study harder. Would you study as much if your teacher said, “This course is a breeze”?
  • If all you hear is “broccoli tastes terrible,” would you be motivated to try it?

Research says a “deliberate suggestion” can influence how we behave, because we have “response expectancies”—we anticipate our response in certain circumstances. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. What are we saying to ourselves? What is our self-talk?

When it comes to “suggestions,” who are we listening to, what are we viewing, what are our influences?

Negative suggestions (like the lies we hear from our enemy, Satan) can sabotage our lives and work. Conversely, words we find in the Bible contribute to our spiritual success, when we act on them.

[Note: I want to make this clear. God’s commands are not suggestions! He tells us what to do because He is God and He knows what is best for us. But there are many other scriptures that, while they are not strictly commands, we would be wise to heed. Why?

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV).]

With this in mind, how can you use “the power of suggestion” for good?

1. Be aware of what messages you’re receiving.

Ask the Lord to help you spot defeating thoughts and pay closer attention to those messages that encourage your spiritual growth.

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. … Keep them within your heart” (Proverbs 4:19-21).

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20 NIV).

Obviously, being attentive and taking heed to positive input would include reading the Word of God and reading and hearing the teaching of godly people. But we also need basic, everyday interactions that challenge us so we can bring more glory to God; so …

2. Identify people who focus on and practice scriptural wisdom and rub shoulders with them more often, because it’s likely their “suggestions” will be positive and life-building.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise….” (Proverbs 13:20a).

Never discount building a network of people to surround you who are biblically wise and concerned about your spiritual welfare. We all need accountability. We all need encouragement.

Be sure your own “suggestions” are positive too! Are you building people up or tearing them down? Do you inspire or destroy others with your words, attitudes and behavior?

3. Be a lifelong learner when it comes to improvement.

Make sure you have a teachable spirit. Are you willing to listen to influencers’ suggestions, and take their challenging words before the Lord in prayer to see if they apply to your life?

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9 ESV).

“…whoever heeds reproof is honored” (Proverbs 13:18 ESV).

You can counsel your own heart according to the Word of God by using powerful written “suggestions” you’ll see every day: notes at your computer, plaques on the wall, message pillows, etc.

4. Realize that you are always choosing how you will respond to the power of suggestion.

Words can create expectations and motivate change. Every day, you will make choices based on the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs you hold most dear. In other words …

What you entertain in your thoughts can shape the person you become.

Examine your thoughts. How is the power of suggestion working in your life? What are you expecting to happen?

For example, maybe you’ve heard a wrong suggestion about your worth. What do you believe about yourself?

  • If you believe you are nothing but a disgusting worm, your aspirations won’t rise to great heights.
  • But if you believe you are a redeemed sinner, a child of the Father in heaven—loved by Him and being changed into the image of His Son, Jesus—you will likely aspire to make choices to please and honor Him.

Whatever you sow into your mind will reap a harvest (Galatians 6:7)—pray for discernment! You can choose whether to walk in the counsel of the wicked or according to the wisdom of God (Psalm 1:1-2; James 1:5).

Your mind was designed by God to respond and choose according to the input you receive, and you can use the power of suggestion as a tool to help you grow in the Lord. 

What “suggestions” are you receiving today? Are they helpful or harmful?

~Dawn

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