FYI: Learning

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Encouragement — life-long learning is always in season

Benefits

Break it down — why learning is good for the whole person

Homeschooling — a mom on benefits of raising children who continue learning, hopefully motivating parents to lead by example

Not just for men — well-written encouragement to broaden our horizons

Heavy research — showing who and why and what results came of continuing education, personally and professionally

Resources

Online — 10 online educational sites

Udemy — a plethora of online classes

A Healthy Mind

…mens sana in corpore sano. (Roman poet Juvenal)

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37

When we think of health, we tend to think of physical health. It has a tendency to be front and center — sometimes due to serious health concerns of loved ones, sometimes because of the neighbor who bought stock in the gym or the many ads containing people who seem bursting with physical fitness. We also periodically think of our spiritual health — usually related to how daily devotional times are going. Mental health also comes up, but it’s often related to our churning emotions or simply needing a day of rest rather than medical issues.

Our physical health does have value on this earth. When our muscles are strong and our systems healthy, we have the energy and strength needed for our God-given responsibilities.

But how often are we concerned with how our brains are working, whether our thinking is sound? Once out of the educational environment, it doesn’t come up that often until old age approaches.

It should. I am intrigued by the studies that explore how mental activities affect the health of the brain, specifically related to age and Alzheimers. I am a little confused, though, by how we tend to think that we can set cruise control after the first 20+ years until we think we are approaching the last 10. That can be a lot of years, which would be many wasted opportunities.

So much could be said on this topic, but I will simply beg this:

Stretch your mind AND stretch your muscles. Work your brain AND workout at the gym. Both will have lasting value when driven by transformed hearts striving to love God with all that we are.

There are many ways to do this, from reading a book to doing a daily crossword to taking a class to memorizing Scripture to engaging in adult conversation. Learning a new language or a new skill will really stretch you, but the rewards match the effort. However you can, please find some ways that work for your current stage of life.

Looking to Jesus

So how do we “look unto Jesus” in our daily lives?

I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.   — Psalm 119:147

The most obvious example that comes to mind is: to whom do I look first thing every morning? Whether it is first before anything or the first activity requiring thought, am I looking to the Word for sustenance? It is tempting to look to our family members and their needs, or even to social media to check on what happened in the world, but then we are distracting ourselves from the “one thing.” When we look to the Word, we will let Him set the tone for our minds, our hearts and our days.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.   — Psalm 5:3

Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.   — Psalm 119:97

Building on that, as we move through the day, are we basing our actions on a desire for Christ-likeness? Are we feeding our own selfish pride or seeking to reflect the humility of Christ?

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  — Philippians 2:1-7

Scripture is also full of wisdom for life, which guides us through countless small daily decisions and also tough decisions. When we come to a crossroad and don’t know which way to go, we do have a Guide and can trust Him to provide what we need to make good choices. When we need to respond to a situation, having already saturated ourselves with who Christ is and the truth in His word as discussed above, we will be able to respond well.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding — Proverbs 2:6

As we feel weak, where do we look for help? Do we make everything work ourselves? Or do we acknowledge our weakness and His strength, deepening our trust in Him?

The Lordis my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.  — Psalm 28:7

What do we do when fear takes hold on occasion? Our sovereign God is our Rock, and trusting in Him is the best answer to our fear.

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?  — Psalm 56:3-4

These are just a few examples, and I’d love to see others share encouragement. Please comment below with how you have turned your eyes to Christ in your life.

Committed Love

 

But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

These words are a beautiful expression of the committed love Ruth showed Naomi, a reflective flicker of the incredible covenantal love of God for His people.

In our premarital counseling, our pastor reminded us that sometimes marriage will require love that will stay in the car and ride even into the ditch. You can see the danger ahead and calmly share your concern, but sometimes the decision is still to continue. You then buckle up and ride out the crash (and pay the repair bill and allow the bruises to heal) together. Note: this is not referring to life-or-death or sin situations.

Yes, commitment is that committed. Committed love goes all the way to the end. The idea is beautiful and we love being loved that way, but how often are we committed?

How often will we go out to eat IF we like the restaurant? If it’s not a menu we like, it doesn’t matter with whom we are eating (never mind Proverbs 15:17).

How much have we been willing to be friends AS LONG as we share interests and think alike? It’s more efficient and comfortable. No need to stretch (Proverbs 27:17).

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, I’ll love AS LONG as they love me? Fair is fair, and I have my rights.

I have fallen in all these traps. That’s not love; it’s an even exchange of goods.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” — John 15:12-14

We often think of the Ruth passage related to weddings. I find it interesting that neither of these Scriptures are referring to marriage. Ruth loved her mother-in-law. Christ commanded His disciples, and by extension the church.

Who are we loving today?

sanddunes-2

 

FYI: Reading

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

How To — a variety of ways to read

Making a Habit — you want to read, but are you?

It’s Important — “There is a reason societies and civilizations throughout history have treasured the written word. It is art—beautiful and awe-inspiring for its own sake. It deserves our attention, our contemplation. Literature’s imaginative and creative power—the way it opens our eyes and sharpens our perceptions of the world—is highly valuable and unique.”

Bite-sized recommendations — 3 books with daily snippets

How to Make Time — encouragement with benefits and tips to make a habit

“Real” Books — why a paper copy of a book may be better

Reading Old Books — the value an older book has over a new release…and more encouragement to read

A Further Summary of Benefits — Reader’s Digest weighs in

Audio Books — how listening can redeem time — And Again