A Map Shows What Happens When Bias Takes the Throne

Solomon’s administrative districts reveal a weakness we must avoid.

Have you ever known someone who fails to take their own advice? Somehow what they see so clearly in the lives of others becomes a personal blind spot that undermines their success.

Jerusalem looking north to Solomon's 12 districts

(Photo: Jerusalem looking north to Solomon’s 12 districts. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When we look at Solomon, we see a man who literally wrote the book on wisdom. However, his divided heart ultimately divided his nation. But why?

We often point to the influence of Solomon’s foreign wives and their imported idolatry as the cause of his downfall. But let’s look beyond the obvious. The problem went deeper.

We can see the source of Solomon’s fatal flaw on a map—literally.

Is the weakness on the map of your life too?

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How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

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How To Abandon Selfishness without Abandoning Yourself

Jesus models 3 surprising solutions.

You and I suffer from a malady common to everyone. It’s the number one reason we hurt each another. It’s why children grab, pull, and scream. And, ironically, it’s often why we hurt ourselves. Selfishness.

3 Surprising Solutions for Your Selfishness

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals, and the dusty roads produced dirty feet. When they entered a house, a servant customarily washed their filthy feet—a task akin to scrubbing toilets. When Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room, they came to the large upstairs room of a furnished home.

But when they arrived, no house servant washed their feet. I think Jesus arranged it that way.

Here’s why.

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Self-Control—It’s More than Sexual

Marrying context and desire brings joy—not shame.

Too often, self-control kicks in only as a matter of pride. We apply the brakes by asking questions like: Will I look foolish if I have a third slice of cake? Not terribly spiritual, but hey.

Self-Control—It’s More than Sexual

(Photo by Photodune)

Life hands us daily situations in which self-control seems impractical, irrational, and even impossible. And yet, amazingly, at other times:

  • While arguing with our spouse, and the phone rings, we answer the call and suddenly we have self-control.
  • Our boss lays into us about something that’s totally unfair. We fume, but bite our tongue.
  • Our tummies start to expand beyond our belts and bathing suits. So we cut back on sweets.

When our reputations, our jobs, and our physiques are at risk, we apply self-control. Why? Because something more important than immediate satisfaction seems threatened.

But somehow sex is different?

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How to Sidestep Your Daily Ego

Don’t you just love it when God drags His rake across the soil of your heart and unearths all kinds of junk below the surface? Well it happened to me recently. Just like it happened last year.

Michael W. Smith at NRB 2014

(Photo: Michael W. Smith at the National Religious Broadcasters 2014)

I just returned from the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville. This conference is a yearly microcosm of the most gifted communicators, broadcasters, and creatives in the kingdom of God.

Some of the rest of us showed up too.

I’m going to be honest and a bit vulnerable in this post and share how I blew it last year and how this year started off headed the same direction.

Last year I was caught flatfooted. But this year I approached it differently.

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A View from the Anthill

I have anthills in my yard. I enjoy making mesas out of their mounds by running over them with the lawnmower or crushing with one step what took them hours to build.

But as soon as I destroy their work, they immediately begin to rebuild. And they do it together.

Take a View Atop an Ant Hill

(Photo by: By Chmee2, Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

My favorite comic strip of yesteryear, “Calvin & Hobbes,” shows Calvin standing by an anthill shouting,

Hey ant, you’re working like a maniac and what have you got to show for it?  What’s the colony done for you lately?  What about your needs?  You don’t owe anybody anything!  Let the others fend for themselves!  Move out!  Discover yourself!  Express your individuality!

The last frame shows Calvin grinning and saying, “If they listen, this should solve our ant problem.”

The Bible also points us to the ant to learn a lesson that will help our lives.

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When Life is Futile, Choose God’s Alternative

Groundhog Day always brings to mind the movie by the same name. In the film, Bill Murray’s character, Phil, travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to report on the same boring groundhog.

Phil views the annual observance as a sign that there is really no “to­morrow.” So the film depicts him living out this deception.

He wakes up every morning and experiences the same Groundhog Day over and over again.

  • At first, he gets reckless, figuring there are no consequences.
  • Eventually, he tries to escape the futility—even going so far to as to commit suicide (with the groundhog!)—but he still wakes up to the same Sonny and Cher song every day at 6 AM.

Film critic Richard Corliss notes: “He is trapped in time . . . Yet he can’t die, he can’t escape, he can only change.”

What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?

When Phil asks that question to his buddies, one of them confesses: “That sums it up for me.”

Does that sum it up for you?

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You are Unique to God—Like Everybody Else

The winter blast that blanketed America still managed to leave us Texans without much snow. Conditions rarely allow for it. A snowflake forms by a sudden freezing of water vapor in the air that turns from gas to solid so quickly it doesn’t have time to turn to liquid first.

The result is awesome!

You are Unique to God—Like Everybody Else

(Photo by Photodune)

A tiny six-rayed crystal displays the order, beauty, and uniqueness of God’s creative power. Even in a light snowfall (which is all that occurs in Texas), millions upon millions of delicate and unique snowflakes float down.

The snowflake illustrates how God created different things in the same way but still allows them to be completely unique.

That’s a lot like you, by the way.

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Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

A couple of months ago I noticed the “maintenance” light come on in my car. That meant the oil and filter needed changing. I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that soon. Right.

Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

(Photo by Photodune)

About a month went by and I thought: You know, I need to deal with that. I forgot again. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later I finally got it changed. I put it off because I’m a busy guy—and hey, oil and filters can always wait another day.

But then another warning light went off. This one was serious.

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5 Good Lessons from a Bad Example

Sometimes the best lessons come from the worst examples. Maybe you had a parent who disciplined out of anger. Or a pastor who wielded his Bible like a billy club. Or a boss who abused his or her authority.

5 Good Lessons from a Bad Example

(Photo by Photodune)

It’s easy to dismiss lousy leaders as incompetent, arrogant, or uncaring—and unworthy of our attention. But it’s hard to examine their flaws and failures so as to apply their bad example to our own lives.

The Bible often makes good use of a bad example. Scripture records the failings of many—not like some grocery tabloid would—but to show us why we should make good choices (1 Cor. 10:6).

The Apostle John took up his pen and wrote for us 5 good lessons from a bad example.

Thankfully, these are 5 lessons we don’t have to learn the hard way.

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