BWFLI team stretching and blessing the next generation of leaders at East Texas Baptist University
Cliff Shiepe, best-selling author, inspires students
ETBU students gathered at midnight to discuss “What’s Next” and job market tips
Former All-American, All-Pro Bill Glass stirring the athletes
ETBU Steering Committee Chair Emily Prevost and BWFLI President Brenda A. Smith sharing a celebratory moment
“The things you don’t do are as important as the things you do.” – Katharine Graham
Recently I sat with friends whose interests gravitate toward “what ifs.” Reflection grows in its power to take up mental space. Where once anticipation and expectation led, looking back now rules. Musing on choices is good fodder for conversation.
Options require decisions. We say yes to one and thereby saying no to another. How we ascertain the direction is an exercise in personality, temperament, maturity, and faith. Some forks have a “no question about it” nature because the alternative is unsuitable. Others create emotional upheaval because either is appropriate.
I grew up in a faith community who strongly believed in the perfect will of God, everything else’s being permitted, but not first class. As an earnest little girl I searched diligently for that almost imperceptible, microscopic region designated the perfect will. Decision making became agonizing. The sadness of the childhood construct was the secondary belief that doing the will of God automatically meant doing something you didn’t want to do. Enjoyment was mutually exclusive with “doing the will of God.”
Then years later at a crucial crossroads I was given a book “Decision Making and the Will of God.” BOOM! The author introduced freedom. God was not a gamesman, creating mazes and delighting in frustrating me. He actually designed me with gifts, talents, and skills which helped me interpret the journey. If I had the desire to make a choice and it met the criteria of being Biblically aligned, and encouraged by Godly counsel, I could go in joy.
Have all my decisions been healthy and mature? Certainly not. Have all my decisions been growth opportunities? Yes. And, as Katharine Graham wisely observed, the doors I closed (or better yet- didn’t open) are often as large a part of my story as the ones I boldly and eagerly opened. As I age I have more data for my decision tree experience, and hopefully I say “no” to more and “yes” to fewer and the better.
by Brenda A. Smith, BWFLI.com, BreakfastWithFred.com
“Our job is to instill wisdom, not just transfer information.”
One of our great Christian educators made this comment recently. Inspiring! The process from data to information to knowledge to wisdom is easier said than done. We are inundated with data — we are pushed to overload. We work diligently to filter through and arrive at information (which is often a daunting task). Moving on to knowledge requires skill, dexterity, and perseverance. But taking the last step to wisdom requires life change – and Godly influences.
This month let’s pray earnestly for our faculty, administration, and staff who are committed to building into the lives of students in the name of Jesus. Protect them from discouragement, distraction, and obstacles which would prevent their effective involvement in the lives of others. Lift them up, praising our great God who has called them to this work. We can stand in the gap for them. Praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Developing a Desire for Diligence
by Bob Deffinbaugh, Bible.org, BWFLI.com
For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10, NAU).
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat (Proverbs 13:4).
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15; see also 1 Timothy 4:12-16).
Diligence manifests itself in the disciplined pursuit of a goal. Diligence characterized those who are wise, and fruitful. Carelessness or sloth characterizes the sluggard, who fails to achieve anything worthwhile (although the sluggard can be diligent in the pursuit of something that is worthless).
In the Bible, we see diligence in men like Ezra and Daniel, and Paul exhorts Timothy to be diligent in his pursuit of God. One of the fruits of diligence is perseverance, and that is what we all need in times like these.
Let us pray for students and faculty alike that they will be diligent in the pursuit of that which is pleasing to God.
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Weekly Thought – May 4, 2021
Fred regarded heroes as one of the key elements in a healthy network. He emphasized the importance of being certain to choose heroic qualities. He also thought realistically about the nature of man, including heroes. He avoided putting individuals on pillars. He particularly studied those he admired, looking for “clay and iron,” as he put it.
Please pray for Christian higher education. They strive for excellence and hold the course against social, legal, and economic pressures.
Heroic, Not Perfect
Heroes are who we can become if we diligently pursue our ideals in the furnace of our opportunities.
We are unrealistic to expect perfection from our heroes. If we do, we may see the inevitable discovery of their weaknesses which causes great disappointment. Does it really matter that our heroes are less than perfect? Should their true greatness be diminished?
When we ask for perfection in heroes, we become vulnerable to those determined to expose the weaknesses, destroying their value. Heroes personify the human ability and capability of reaching nobility, not perfection.
Humankind is incapable of achieving perfection, so we must not be disillusioned, giving up our heroes simply due to imperfection. To look for perfection is to build on a false philosophical and theological base.
The Bible recognizes the imperfection. Ironically, one of the supports for the inspiration of scripture is in the inclusion of the flaws of those God chose to use. If this were just human-generated these stories would have been sanitized. The Bible uses these lives to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and the power of transformation.
On the other hand, the media and social exposure has done a great disservice by replacing the lasting inspiration of the true hero for the momentary excitement of the celebrity. Our son started me thinking about this when he observed, “The heroes of the early church were martyrs and ours are celebrities.” Too many today confuse the two creating spiritual crossovers who live flashy lives, emulating celebrity status. Herein may lie a great deal of the modern church’s weakness.
We know persecution has historically been the greatest purifying agent of the church. This isn’t a popular view of the western church. Too much talk about giving all for Jesus belies the behavior of seeking social popularity and acceptance. Celebrities rise on the wave of applause and break the rocks of inattention. They are fantasy waiting to be exposed.
This week think about: 1) How do I integrate my heroes into my daily living? 2) What criteria do I use for assigning “hero” to a person? 3) Why do I search for heroic qualities in others?
Words of Wisdom: “To look for perfection (in our heroes) is to build on a false philosophical and theological base.”
Wisdom from the Word “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NET Bible)