Friday, July 23, 2010

#39 - Power of Association

Good morning! As I sit here at my kitchen table...I just realized why I almost always have my quiet time outside on the screened in porch... lack of clutter! It is so nice to just have "your place" that you go to spend time with God. To spend time in the Word. Listening, reading. A place that is special. Or at least, the more time you spend there, the more special it becomes. A time that can be filled with revelations and "ah-ha" moments. This morning I stayed inside, at my kitchen table because I knew it would be a quicker morning than usual. We are going out of town this afternoon, and I have a lot to do before we leave. And... yes.... clutter of a kitchen table. I heard once this lady say how to cut down on "clutter".... she said, "When you come in to your home, don't lay something down, put it away." We are still working on that!!! I definitely don't like clutter...not to mention, clutter creates a little bit of "chaos." If not in the actual home, just in your spirit. If words could be married.... I think these words go together: clutter & chaos, organization & peace. It's like when you walk in a cluttered house, you just feel uneasy, yucky. But when you walk in and things are put away and neat, you just feel at peace. Well, I am still working on certain areas staying un-cluttered in our home, especially the kitchen table and kitchen bar.

Ok... well, let's roll....
Proverbs 23:20 - Do not associate with winebibbers; be not among them nor among gluttonous eaters of meat.
Proverbs 31:18 - She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good...
This morning there were so many good directions we could go; food (v 1-3), wealth (v 4-5), thoughts (v 7), discipline (v 13-14), envy (v 17), hope & expectation (v 18), truth (v 23), wine (v 30-35). Since Proverbs 23 talked so much about gluttons, eating, drinking... it actually began the chapter with the danger of being a glutton, and ended the chapter talking about being drunk.... the verse almost in the middle talked about both. That seemed like an appropriate verse to park on for today. 

Since we don't use the word "winebibbers" on a daily basis... I thought I'd look it up and see what the meaning was in the dictionary. To my expectation, it means "drunkard" or "a person who drinks much wine." How powerful is the beginning of Proverbs 23?! Do not associate with. Wow. We have read a lot of books, listened to a lot of CD's that talk about the POWER of association. And here, in the #1 book of all times, is also directing us in who NOT to associate with. Do not associate with drunks... and do not associate with gluttonous eaters. The dictionary calls a glutton, "a person who eats and drinks excessively or voraciously." A glutton, most often are probably the people who are overweight. A glutton or winebibber, they lack discipline or restraint from drinking or eating. They overdo it. They are excessive. 

So what's the deal with the POWER OF ASSOCIATION? I have heard a very common quote many times over the last 10 years... you may have heard it as well, but it goes like this: "You can determine where you will be in 5 years by looking at the people you associate with and the books you read." Another one on association: "Your income is most likely within $5,000 from the circle of friends you hang out with." A good rule of thumb:

  • If you want to be a drunk, hang out with partier's.
  • If you want to be fat, hang out with people who overeat.
  • If you want to be poor, hang out with broke people.
  • If you want to be negative, hang out with people who always complain or have something bad to say.
  • If you want to be wealthy, hang out with wealthy people.
  • If you want to be fit, hang out with fit people. 
  • If you want to be motivated, hang out with people who have a dream, who are going somewhere.
  • If you want to have a great walk with the Lord, hang out with passionate Christians.
  • If you want to quit smoking, hang out with NON-smokers. 
  • If you want to have a better, more positive attitude, hang out with optimistic, positive people.

If you are always with people who drink alcohol, you will most likely mirror what they do. Looking at your association is much like looking in the mirror. You most likely will begin to mirror and look like, and do the same things that those people you hang out with do. 

Who is your DREAM YOU? Find who that person is. Go out of your way to spend time with them. Ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee. Once a week. Once a month. Just get around them. Surround yourself with people who are in life where you want to be! Ask if you can buy them lunch. Even if it was just once/month. Ask them questions. "How did you get where you are? What books did you read? How did you overcome the hurdles along the way?" Everyone has an innate desire within themselves to help someone else. ESPECIALLY if the person is asking them questions. It is an honor. People love to feel special. 

Our Proverbs 31 friend... she tastes and sees. She enjoys the fruits of her labor. If she bakes a chocolate cake, she enjoys a piece. She doesn't eat the whole thing! :), but she enjoys it. Enjoy life, but don't be excessive. 

Is overeating a problem? Begin to take small steps. Cut your food in half. Serve your plate from the stove, don't bring the whole dish to the table. Get chips or pretzels out of the bag, measure them out, then put the bag back in your pantry versus sitting on the couch with a WHOLE bag of chips! Out to eat? Cut your food in half and ask for a box before you even get your plate. Put half of it away before even starting. Or split a meal with your spouse. You will be surprised that you really are satisfied. Chips and junk-food a problem? Don't even buy them when you grocery shop then! Buy fruits, veggies, yogurt, jello, sugar-free pudding, carmel rice cakes. Set yourself up to win. 

Is drinking a problem? Change your association. If all your friends are drinkers and partier's, begin add some new association, become part of a new group, get involved with a young singles group at church, or business team, or softball team. Do something that gets you away from your "old association."

Take control of your life! If you do not do it now, 5 years from now you will be older, fatter, poorer, and not a bit happier. Choose wisely who you associate with. 

Be who you've always dreamed you could be. Be the dream YOU! Start today with your association!


Deb Ellis said...

Great Blog today Amy!
I receive it with an open heart. You are right, we are in control of our own decisions and it takes an assertive effort to make positive changes in our lives. There are so many people I admire that I would love to spend time with them and learn how to pick up some of their awesome qualities. I intend to do that right away. Good advice, Amy! I also believe it works the other way. We can be a positive influence on people that need to make changes in their lives. It's all good!
I, too have a quiet place where I spend time with God. It's special and I love getting up at 5:00 am to meet with Jesus. I practically jump out of bed, grab my bag (with my Bible, my journal and lots of colored pens and highlighters), my coffee and cell (just so I can keep track of the time-it's easy for me to lose track of time). I go outside and sit in the gazebo by the pool, turn on the light and fan, then plug in the fountain in the pond so I can listen to the waterfall. I hear the birds chirping, the water running, smell the crisp morning air...I'm at peace as I sit and commune with God-my favorite time of the day. I also have a cross in the corner of the pool area where I often kneel and pray (and weep). When I am struggling to let go of something, I will write on a stone with a marker the thing (or person) I am burdened with and give it to God. I literally lay the stone at the foot of the cross. For me, this is symbolic of surrendering it to God. It happens in my heart first, then as I lay it down, it becomes a reality, that from this moment on, I will praise God for His faithfulness and rejoice that He has indeed taken my worries/burdens and by faith answered my prayers. He is in control. I laid a stone at the foot of the cross this morning and have already seen God begin to answer this prayer.

I always miss your blogs on the weekend but hope you have a great trip.
"Happy 30th Birthday to my son, Jamie!"

Dylan Barry said...

I really enjoyed the blog today and what you say is true, how we associate often further define us. I know that I have had questions about association. One of my biggest passions is evangelism and sharing God's Word because I am convinced that there are many out there that lead lives of quiet desperation. How do we balance our associations without alienating or separating ourselves completely from the those people we are reaching out to? Often the bad associations can be devastating influences, but my heart says that they are just as much in need of God's grace as myself.

I know that some of my associations would be questionable if their pasts were to be taken into account. Two come to mind since one of them is an 18 year old boy whose parents abandoned him when he was 14 and he was left to fend for himself. Upon first glances, he is a bright, intelligent and fun individual, but to judge by mere looks is deceiving. No one would know that inside he was dying from a progressive kidney disease that was robbing him of his youth and vigor. He would go to great lengths to hide his drug addiction that put further strain on his body, by all accounts it was heartbreaking. There would be countless times that I would find myself walking with him around town and talking philosophy, theology or about God. His was face I can never forget, but as all things go his addiction would lead him to jail and later to place him on the run. He just kept asking how I could see God as wonderful and how I can have faith in a faithless world. It is the Mikes of the world that make me lean all the more upon God and take the risks. If anything it convinces me that being safe isn't what God calls his people to, but to be faithful.

Dylan Barry said...

I do have a lot of Christian friends and they are incredible blessings in my life. I don't think I could venture out into the world the way I do if my parents and friends were not there pick me up after I come back exhausted. I guess my hearts deepest longing is that Christians would be bold enough to go past being just safe. It is easy to be kind, gentle, loving towards those we know, but what about those that have not known the beauty of Christ? I can see the wisdom in today's Proverb, but I can't get past in my mind, "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for." I am blessed by my Christian friends, but I also have friends that are atheists, Army veterans, professors, single mothers, and even one that was a "dancer", but had I never taken the time to get to know them, I would never had seen their tears and their brokenness and their struggles to make sense of life. I don't want to be safe, but faithful. If Jesus had chosen to be safe and be with the "right" crowd, there would have been no church, no cross, and no salvation.

As for me this is my determination: To not waste my life by cherishing it to highly. To not scorn my associations for fear of my reputation. To not remain safe, but to trust all the more on God's power to keep me and accept with grace if I am given affliction. To be that dying man crying out to a dying world the Good News: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22) To build my legacy for God so that in the end it can be said: "He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) I am overjoyed to let this be my lot in life.

Dylan Barry said...

"Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own." -Henry Lyte

Lyte was an English Pastor, known for his deep love and commitment to his congregation. Lyte would be known up to his death for his frail health and upon his last sermon to his poor congregation in Lower Brixhom, Devonshire, England literally dragged himself to the pulpit making his ending words to: "to induce you to prepare for the solemn hour which must come to all by a timely appreciation and dependence on the death of Christ." Blessings to you Amy and to your family as well.

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