Armchair Advice for a Significant Life: Staying Connected

English proverbs are short, concise sayings that express traditional truths. Many of them, religious and metaphorical in nature, offer sound, uplifting advice and consist of repetitive consonant sounds that make remembering them effortless. This week, we’ll focus on five traditional armchair convictions that connect with scriptural truths and encourage virtuous living.


Staying Connected

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:24–25, NLT

 “Birds of a feather flock together.” 

BIRDS ON A WIREMy parents imparted this time-honored proverb on more than one occasion as they encouraged me to choose my friends wisely. First surfacing in the middle of the sixteenth century, the proverb highlights the fact that birds of the same species congregate in flocks. Ornithologists (bird experts) attribute this behavior to a “safety in numbers” tactic that protects birds from their predators.

Though many of us would classify ourselves as introverts, God created all of us with an innate desire for acceptance and significance. Nevertheless, we sometimes forget that acceptance doesn’t always indicate significance, nor does significance necessitate acceptance. As we observe the lives of philanthropists and celebrities who have made a profound impact upon society, we too yearn to make our mark on the world. Our intentions may be noble, but our pursuit for personal significance can morph into a place of selfish ambition, misplaced energy, and unrealized dreams. Not only do our efforts fail to produce the desired result but we are left with feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness.

Paul’s teaching in today’s text characterizes a significant life as a life connected to others. He encourages us to live in community:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”

(Philippians 2:3-4).

Bottom line: we are not autonomous creatures but are created to live life in fellowship with one another and to be unified in thoughts and deeds.

Neighbors once lived in tight-knit communities where everybody knew everyone else. It wasn’t unusual to share the latest gossip over the backyard fence, enjoy an impromptu Sunday afternoon visit in a front-porch rocker with a glass of sweet tea, or simply borrow the proverbial cup of sugar. Today we’ve exchanged our face-to-face encounters with those a few yards away for Facetime video chats, and hundreds of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter followers around the world. Even our evening strolls have become opportunities to engage in cell phone conversations with others continents away while we give our next-door neighbor a quick nod and a halfhearted glance in passing.

There is danger here. To isolate ourselves from society and those within the body of Christ not only hinders our spiritual growth but denies others the uniqueness that we can bring to our world.

What obstacles hinder you from living in community? Let’s push past our exclusive existence, stay connected, and experience the joy and security that true fellowship brings.



Armchair Advice for a Significant Life: Early to Rise

English proverbs are short, concise sayings that express traditional truths. Many of them, religious and metaphorical in nature, offer sound, uplifting advice and consist of repetitive consonant sounds that make remembering them effortless. This week, we’ll focus on five traditional armchair convictions that connect with scriptural truths and encourage virtuous living.


Early to Rise

“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.”

Psalm 119:147, NLT

 “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  

This eighteenth-century English proverb is a variation of an older saying, in print as early as 1496: “Whoever will rise early shall be holy, healthy, and happy.” I love this earlier version. Trading a few extra winks in the morning for a lifestyle that is beneficial to my spiritual, physical, and mental wellbeing seems like a no-brainer to me – so why do I continue to ignore the virtues of rising early?

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool night owl. It’s a generational thing. My mother passed it down to me, and I’ve passed it down to my oldest daughter. It appears that each generation has the malady a notch worse than the preceding one. I want to be a morning person. There have been times in my life when I’ve been successful at rising early, but I’ve never maintained the routine. If I’d choose to go to bed an hour or so earlier, I could probably make this morning thing work.

WormI’m sorry I didn’t inherit my father’s habit of rising early. He always said, “The early bird gets the worm.” (I’ve never had an affinity for worms. My problem exclusively, I’m sure.) Several studies have correlated waking up early with success and have shown that morning people are more optimistic and productive individuals. Night owls, on the other hand, though shown to be creative and intelligent (ahem), prove more likely to exhibit traits such as depression, pessimism, and neurosis. Good grief!

Today’s Scripture verse is just one of many in God’s Word that encourages rising early. Even Jesus rose early.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”

(Mark 1:35, NIV).

I desire to pattern my life after Jesus’s and to begin my day in the presence of my heavenly Father without distractions. At least I don’t need to get dressed and leave my house to find a solitary place to pray. My cushy couch, fuzzy house slippers, and morning brew are not a horrible lot first thing in the day. I should be able to do this. I can do this. God’s Word promises that with the Father, all things are possible for me. Breaking an old habit and adopting a new one is doable. Old habits may die hard, but they do die.

Today, I chose to rise early. I’m on my way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. I’ll take holy, healthy, and happy, but hold the worm, please!

How about you?



Wise Choices: Unshakable

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” 

Luke 6:46, ESV  

In the 70’s and 80’s there were two popular comedic expressions: “The devil made me do it,” and “Could it be Satan?” It’s our nature to want to shift blame, but it’s no laughing matter. When God questioned Adam and Eve regarding their sin, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Satan’s influence in our lives is immense, but we alone are responsible for the choices we make.



“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Matthew 7:24-26, NIV

Day_5,_Rock_with_scriptureRecently, headline news broadcast devastating accounts of a Florida sinkhole that swallowed the bedroom of a man who lay sleeping in his bed. Later, a couple of miles away, another sinkhole opened up. This time it caused no injury or damage, but certainly it struck fear in the hearts of town residents who began to question the solidity of the ground beneath their feet.

As a North Carolina resident, I never question the stability of the ground upon which I walk. I take each step for granted, while those in California, who find earth tremors commonplace, are perhaps lulled into a false sense of security.

Life–shaking events sweep in unannounced. As the rains pound and the winds of adversity blow, our foundations are put to the test. I may not experience the movement of the earth beneath my feet, but I do know what it is like for the bottom to drop out of my world. I suspect you do too.

I have known loneliness after the death of a loved one, sorrow in the loss of a child through miscarriage, the emotional ups and downs that come with the birth of a special-needs child, heartache over one in rebellion, helplessness in the failure of a business, fear in the face of illness . . . and the storms rage on. However, in the midst of these life-altering events, I have experienced the indescribable peace and hope of God.

God’s Word reminds us that unless the Lord builds the house, its builder labors in vain. As painful and unforeseen events close in, choose to set the foundation of your life upon the solid Rock of Christ and God’s Word. Know it and obey it. Allow its healing balm to seep deep into the crevices of your heart and mind. Experience His stillness.

Setting the plumb line of our soul in alignment with the wisdom of God is the key to ensuring our foundation holds strong and secure in the face of crises. There is only one unshakeable foundation upon which to stand―Jesus Christ.

Rockin’ it till next time,