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Deeply embedded lies

 

They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 1 Samuel 5:3

 

Many people—maybe all people—believe deeply embedded lies. There is no other way to account for human behavior.

Here the God of Israel shows up and knocks the Philistine god off his pedestal. What do Dagon’s slaves do? They scurry about to put Dagon back on the throne of their hearts.

Deep down inside, some lie drove them to ignore the truth and cling to their worthless god. Maybe this is why Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

May God bring truth to those hidden places in our lives!

Dwight

PS. Our Inner Wealth topic for 9/28/2019 will be overcoming anger.

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Misplaced fears

 

[Eli’s] heart feared for the ark of God. …there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! 1 Samuel 4:13, 5:2

 

Eli feared for the ark of God—the sacred chest containing the Ten Commandments—because the army of Israel had taken it with them into battle. The Israelis were defeated, the ark was captured, and Eli died. But the ark of God was in no danger. Even though the Philistines captured Israel’s most sacred possession and placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon, God knew how to take care of the ark.

It seems like much of my spiritual journey has been discovering the God who knows how to take care of His own. The more I get to know Him, the more He delivers me from my misplaced fears.

Dwight

PS. Our Inner Wealth topic for Saturday 9/28/2019 is overcoming anger.

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Getting beyond blame

Blaming poverty on someone or something does not get people out of poverty.

We are in the middle of a huge cultural war and much of it centers around who to blame for poverty. Some want to blame the poor. Some want to blame systems, corporations, or political parties.

This fight does NOTHING to help the poor. Instead, we could and should be focusing on getting people out of poverty one family at a time.

Why does that seem like such a strange idea?

Any time any person rises out of poverty, that’s a win for all of us. We’re all in this together. When one person suffers, we all suffer. When one person wins, we all win.

We can win this war on poverty, but it will take mentors and coaches who can help people identify, cultivate, and deploy the value they have to offer to their world. There’s a way to reward these mentors and coaches without spending a dime of government money.

I outline that in my book, Rethinking Our War on Poverty, and you can learn more at WeWillEndPoverty.com.

Dwight

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Why I hesitate…

Spoiler: I’m gonna be a little more vulnerable than usual with this post.

I recently wrote a book on poverty. I believe it’s a book God wanted me to write, and I believe it’s a book God wants me to promote. In addition, I believe God wants me to do what I can to end poverty here in the United States.

But I find myself hesitating.

Why?

I hesitate because I hate politics. Yes, I do have strong political opinions, but I mostly keep them to myself. I’m capable of arguing my point with anybody, but I don’t enjoy doing that; I don’t want to do it. In politics, people tend to retreat to their own armed camp and their own echo chambers. In those places, we don’t learn, we don’t grow, we don’t change. We just hate each other. And I hate that.

Nevertheless, I believe God wants me to say something to this country about poverty—to offer a different perspective that most people haven’t considered.

To do that, I’ve had to share my own struggles with poverty. That’s uncomfortable. Many reasons. I’m self employed. To share that I’m currently living below the poverty line is like holding up a big fat sign that says, “Don’t do business with me. Don’t buy anything I sell. I’m clearly not worth it.”

In our culture—maybe in every culture—poverty sets me apart as an inferior male, undesirable, inadequate. I don’t “have what it takes.” I no longer believe those things about myself, but it’s a big hurdle to overcome when you’re trying to build a reputation.

My poverty begs the question: Dwight, why are you poor? (The unspoken questions are: Are you stupid? Or are you lazy? Or are you both?) And I really don’t have an answer to that question other than to say, No, I’m not stupid, and no, I’m not lazy.

And finally, I hesitate because people who have known me for a long time have seen me write many books and try many things. Somehow, I imagine them saying, “Here’s another one of Dwight’s crazy schemes.” I feel like it’s been a long, long time since many of them have taken me seriously about anything.

So, yeah. It’s scary for me to press forward with this. But I’m gonna do it anyway. I’m gonna do my best to push through the no’s until I get to enough yes’s so we can get some momentum going. Even though I’m afraid.

Dwight

PS. If you want to know more about this, you can visit WeWillEndPoverty.com

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Listening

 

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

 

I’m trying to learn to listen—to my wife, to my children, to people around me—especially to the “little people” who don’t have a platform anywhere else. It’s easy for me to be preoccupied, to think that I’m busy, to go ahead with the next task instead of focusing on the person who is speaking to me.

In the days of Eli, the word of the Lord was rare (verse 1). Maybe it was because no one was really listening.

I want to give my God the gift of listening. Whether He speaks through His word, or quietly in my heart, or through something a four year old says, I want to hear it.

God help us to listen!

Dwight

PS. What drives addiction? How can we overcome life-controlling issues? On 9/14/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming addiction.

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God’s mind

 

… do according to what is in My heart and mind. 1 Samuel 2:35

 

A while ago I read a book called Our Elegant Universe. Most of the book was over my head. The author, a scientist, was trying to explain to nonscientists what scientists think they are discovering about the smallest particles in the universe, about how time works, about hidden dimensions. I have no reason to believe the author was a Christian. Regardless, I wrote him a letter and said, “As a person of faith, I appreciated your book because I always like to know what my Father in heaven is up to.”

Our universe is so complex that the collective efforts of 7 billion people are not enough to figure it out. I don’t know how much angels know, but the only one who knows it all is God. God is so smart that He uses wobbly, fragile, ignorant human beings to accomplish His magnificent eternal purposes. God is so smart, that it requires all eternity for Him to unfold to you the customized plan He has for your eternal life.

The same good God who feels so deeply, has thought through everything and has it all figured out.

Dwight

PS. What drives addiction? How can we overcome life-controlling issues? On 9/14/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming addiction.

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Where is life taking us

 

… do according to what is in My heart and mind. 1 Samuel 2:35

 

God has a heart and God has a mind. In His mind is the wisdom to lead every person, every culture, every generation. In His heart are enormous reservoirs of sorrow and joy, pain and delight, love and hate, anger and peace.

Every day God endures humanly unendurable pain, weeping for those He loves. And every day God rejoices, delighting in those He loves and in His certain eternal victory.

This is life’s journey: to feel God’s heart and to know God’s mind.

Dwight

PS. What drives addiction? How can we overcome life-controlling issues? On 9/14/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming addiction.

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Eyes to see

 

“My heart rejoices in the Lord…” 1 Samuel 2:1

 

In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah prays after she gave Samuel to the Lord. It seems a strange prayer, if you think about it. Here a barren woman finally conceives and gives birth to a child. She then takes that child and gives him to the Lord.

What does she have left? She has nothing. Yet, read the prayer. This is not the same woman who stood weeping before the Lord a couple years earlier. Something profound has changed.

The Lord gave her a son, and she gave him back to God. Once she gave—and she gave everything she had—God opened her eyes to see how rich she was, and how good God truly is.

Read Hannah’s prayer (below) and be encouraged today.

1 Samuel 2

1 Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

2 “There is no one holy like the LORD ;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
upon them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

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The first chapter

 

…the LORD had closed her womb… 1 Samuel 1:6

 

We sometimes wonder, deep down, if God knows what He’s doing. Read 1 Samuel chapter 1. A woman experiences the pain of being childless, and God stands up and takes full responsibility for it. If that wasn’t enough, as a direct result, a rival gloats and provokes (verse 7), a husband doesn’t understand (verse 8), she feels deep hurt (verse 10), she is falsely judged (verses 13-14), and she experiences great anguish (verse 16).

This part of the story had to be written first. Without Hannah’s pain—so arbitrary and meaningless all by itself—there would be no great prophet Samuel.

It seems to me that so much of human experience is just this—the first chapter of the story. We don’t have answers to our questions because the answers don’t come in chapter one.

The same Author who brought Samuel to Israel, who made Joseph ruler of Egypt, who emptied the tomb—that same Author is writing your story and mine.

Dwight

PS. All of us sometimes fail. How do you bounce back? That will be our Inner Wealth topic on Saturday, 9/7/2019.

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Hiding places

 

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 1 Samuel 10:22

 

In this passage, the prophet Samuel was introducing Saul to the nation of Israel as their new king. At God’s direction, Samuel had previously identified Saul as king. To confirm this, Saul was selected by a random drawing when all the tribes of Israel gathered to choose their king. But, instead of stepping up to the plate, Saul hides.

Why do we hide? Let me suggest the reason: Because we know too much of ourselves and not enough of our God. God is calling us out of hiding, to be clothed and covered by the good work He is doing in our lives.

Dwight

PS. All of us sometimes fail. How do you bounce back? That will be our Inner Wealth topic on Saturday, 9/7/2019.

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