31 Day Proverbs Challenge

This past Sunday, Todd Hyland, one of the two interim Co-Pastors at Spirit of Life Bible Church, challenged the congregation to read a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs through the month of May. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs and there are 31 days in the month of May.

I decided to accept his challenge. A chapter a day in a month should be easy to remember and do, and it could energize my spiritual life and change my life for the better.

What can I gain from reading the Proverbs?

Wisdom! That’s what I need and want.

Wisdom is skill in godly living. I know I need more wisdom so I can become more skilled in godly living.

Reading the book of Proverbs will help me attain wisdom and discipline, live a prudent life, teach me to do what is right, to obey God, because the fear of the God is the beginning of knowledge.

Though I have the desire to learn about and read the Bible, I must admit, I am not always  good and faithful at reading it every day. So the challenge will provide me a good opportunity to do something I wanted to do.

I have Dr. Efe Agbamu as my accountability partner. Efe was the Park High School principal when she was named Minnesota’s Secondary Principal of the Year in 2011. Now she is back with St. Paul Public School District as the Executive Director of Dual Language Programs & World Languages. With her teaching and leadership background, I am sure she will keep me well on track.

Today I was home, off from work. This idea came to me early in the morning. Why don’t I post my challenge and daily readings on my blog? There might be other people interested in doing the challenge. Besides, if I make the commitment and make it public, I will be held more accountable.

I got into action, really excited.

In the morning I went to the basement and found my German Bible I had not touched in years. I plan to read the Proverbs in English, Chinese and German. Reading the same content in different languages will not only increase my understanding, it will also help refresh my German language skills.

Since I moved from Germany to the US over 20 years ago in 1991, my German language skills suffered beyond repair. I wanted to pick it up before I forget all. After all, I spent 9 years of my life studying German, and I shouldn’t let it all go.

I spread my Bibles in English, Chinese and German on the table and started reading to get a head start. I had the Google Translator on the screen to help me translate words I didn’t know or remember.

To help me navigate between the different versions and languages more easily, I turned to the Bible Gateway website and had the Bible online as well. This cool website offers Bibles in all kinds of versions and languages. I can also make the font bigger to be easier on the eyes. Copying and pasting favorite verses are just a few clicks away.

In addition to read the Proverbs, I will also use Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Bible Study Guide Selected Studies from Proverbs to help me in the study.

Another great online resource is Executable Outlines – Free sermon outlines and Bible studies! There you will find Sermon outlines based on the book of Proverbs.

Here is what I will do for the next 31 days:

  1. Read one chapter in Proverbs every day.
  2. Read the book Selected Studies from Proverbs, a Bible study guide by Charles  Swindoll from Insight for Living.
  3. Post the chapter of the day on my blog to share with readers.  I will highlight my favorite verses.  
  4. I will also post selected verses or the link to my blog on Facebook to share with others.

Now I am ready for the challenge to begin tomorrow. Hope you will join me in growing deeper in God’s Word and wisdom!

Sharing faith – why, what, how and when

The following materials on witnessing and sharing our faith were presented by Evangelist Paul Ridgeway at the Witnessing and Evangelism Seminar held at New Life Academy in Woodbury on April 28, 2012. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Thank you Paul for sharing your knowledge about and love for Jesus so generously with me and others who are interested.

Paul Ridgeway

What does WITNESSES stand for?

ACTS 8: 4-8, 25-40

W  –  WILLINGNESS to be led by the Holy Spirit vs. 26,29,39

I   –  IMMEDIATE response & obedience vs. 27

T   –  TACTFUL approach vs. 30

N  –  NOTICE interest & openness vs. 31,34

E  –  EXPLAIN Gospel verbally vs. 35

S  –  SCRIPTURES must be used vs. 35, Isaiah 55

S  –  SHARE Jesus vs. 35

E  –  EMPHASIZE repentance & commitment vs. 36-37

S  –  SYSTEMATIC follow-up vs. 38 baptism and follow-up

Sharing Our Faith:  WHY?

  1. Because God has commanded us to do so. The final words of Jesus while on earth      (Acts. 1:8) and also the Bible (Rev. 22:17) speaks concerning this.
  2. Because it demonstrates our love for God. Christ said that if we truly love Him we      would keep His commandments (John 14:15).
  3. Because all are lost! (Romans 3:10 & 23).
  4. Because our sharing is God’s chosen method to tell all people. He could have used      angels, but He didn’t. Only redeemed sinners can tell lost sinners about Christ. (Romans 10:14-17).
  5. Because God desires to save all people. (Acts 4:12; 2; Peter 3:9;  1st. Timothy 2:4).
  6. Because someone once shared his or her faith with us. It may have been a faithful      Bible teacher or a godly pastor, or, a praying parent. In other words, they have the right to expect that we will do for others what they have done for us. WHO SHARED THE GOSPEL WITH YOU?

Sharing Our Faith:  WHAT?

  1. God’s Word says all are sinners, condemned to hell. (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10,  11, 23;  Romans 5:8 & 12; Revelations 20:15).  Sadly 40% of those “professing to be Christian do not believe there is a hell.”
  2. There is nothing a lost person can do on his or her own to save themselves. (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:9).
  3. Christ was born, crucified, and resurrected to save lost people from their sin (John 3:16 & 17;  1st. Timothy 1:15).
  4. To be saved a sinner must believe God’s Word and invite Christ into their heart by faith. ( John 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Sharing Our Faith:  HOW?

  1. First, we must be clean vessels. God reminds Isaiah the prophet of this, “Be clean, You who bear the vessels of the Lord” ( Isaiah 52:11). David the sinner prays for forgiveness and cleansing. Upon receiving this he states, “Then I will teach the transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You ( Psalms 51:13). While God does not demand gold or silver vessels, He does require CLEAN ONES. “I want to live right, so God can use me, at any time and anywhere”.
  2. We must be able to clearly give out the simple facts of the Gospel without getting bogged down with profound theological concepts. Philip the evangelist demonstrated how to do this when he dealt with a sinner in the desert. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35).
  3. We must avoid arguments and stick to the basic issues of men and women and their sins and Christ’s blood. Often unbelievers will attempt to sidestep the Gospel by asking unrelated questions, such as “Where did Cain get his wife?” Don’t “SHOW OFF YOUR KNOWLEDGE” but “SHOW THEM THE SAVIOR”.
  4. We must use the Word of God. Paul’s tremendous success as an evangelist can be linked directly to his consistent use of God’s Word. ( Acts 17:2; 18:28;  II Timothy 2:15;  3: 14-17).
  5. We must depend on the Spirit of God. ( John 3:15; Acts 6:10; I Corinthians 2:4).

Sharing Our Faith:  WHEN?

  1. Revival meeting in Chicago on the night of October 8, 1871. Evangelist asked people to think about making a decision for Christ and to come back the next night prepared to make that decision. THERE  WAS NO NEXT NIGHT. The Chicago fire broke out and 250 people lost their lives, and nearly four miles of buildings were consumed. The evangelist vowed never to end a service without giving an invitation to accept Christ immediately.
  2. The question of when we should share our faith is directly tied to when a sinner should accept Christ. The Bible is clear that God’s accepted time is TODAY. ( Hebrews 3:15; 4:7;  II Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 55:6). The reason is simple, a sinner has no assurance whatsoever that he or she will live to see tomorrow. ( Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:19; James 4: 13-15).


  • Every Hour of the Day:      10,000 people
  • In One Day:                       240,000 people
  • In One Week:                     1.68 Million
  • One Month:                         6.72 Million
  • One Year:                            80.64 Million
  • Seventy Years:                     5.644 BILLION

Thus, we are to witness ANY TIME, ALL THE TIME, IN ANY PLACE AND IN ALL PLACES. The Apostle Paul shows us how this should be done. He witnesses everywhere, in a prison at midnight (Acts 16: 25-31). And, he even witnessed on a sinking ship during a dark and stormy day (Acts 27: 20-25).


SOS EVANGELISM     “Scriptures On Salvation”

Always ask for PERMISSION to witness to someone.

Three questions to ask someone you are witnessing to:

1. Do you ever think of spiritual things?

2. Have you ever thought about becoming a Christian? (Note: The question is not “are you a Christian” but “have you ever thought of becoming one?”)  Good reason for this wording.

3. If someone were to ask you what makes a person a Christian what would you say?  THIS IS CALLED THE “X-RAY QUESTION”. IT WILL SHOW YOU IF THE PERSON IS SAVED AND IF THEY KNOW HOW ONE MIGHT BE SAVED.


1. PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY   PRAY – Pray without ceasing. The “prayers of the righteous person is powerful and effective”, James 5:16.

2. Pray and be ready to SHARE with others. Show an genuine interest in them.


     S-Secular Life

   H-Home Life



    E-Eternal Life

3. Pray for Openings:

  • Pray for Open Eyes: John 4:35 “ Open your eyes and see the fields white unto harvest.”
  • Pray for Open Doors: Colossians 4:3.
  • Pray for Open Mouths: Ephesians 6: 19-20. Make known the mystery of the mystery of the Gospel.
  • Pray for Open Scriptures: Psalms 119:18. Open my eyes to see the wonderful things from Your law.
  • Pray for Open Hearts: Luke 24:32. Hearts burning when he opened Scriptures to us.    JESUS WILL COME IN, Revelation 3:20.


  1. Ask God for you to “weep for the lost” and then take action.
  2. Ask God for “Divine Appointments” because “He directs your path”.
  3. ASK GOD FOR FAVOR. Acts 2:47.
  4. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit ( Luke 12:12).  He will lead and guide you.
  5. Always ask for permission to share the “Good News” with a person.
  6. LISTEN to people, their needs, their story and their questions and answers.
  8. Carry Gospel tracts. Gods Word “will not come back void.”
  9. Think of ways you can “show Jesus and His love to a lost world:”
  • Leave a good tip and ask waitress/waiter if you can pray for them.
  • Leave tip for hotel maid with Gospel tract. Also, for anyone you are tipping.
  • Pray before meals in private and public. Ask associates if you might bless the meal. That is a soft witness.
  • Think how you can show “kindness” to others. FAMOUS TELEGRAM OF GENERAL WILLIAM BOOTH OF THE SALVATION ARMY.
  • People that are going through a crisis or troubles, call them or send them a personal note to encourage them. Visit them, offer to help.
  • Give Gospel tapes, CD’s or DVD’s about Christian themes or ideas that can help the person who does not know Christ.
  • Invite people with you to special services where Christ would be presented.
  • Offer to pray for people, and, if they ask, agree you will pray. And, start “right then” with a prayer for them. Ask God to remind you of their needs and keep a prayer list.
  • SMILE at people, especially those that are serving you. Gas station, grocery store, etc.. Say thank you and “God bless you.”
  • Be a Word and Deed Christian. But, let’s not “Love People Into Hell” by not telling them about Jesus but still be nice, kind neighbors. Romans tells us “Blessed are the feet of those who BRING GOOD NEWS.”


  1. When witnessing, if you don’t know the answer or understand the question, be honest with the person you are talking to. Tell them you will get back to them with the answer.
  2. Be considerate of a person’s time and their work situation. Do not let your witness hurt someone’s job situation or cause them stress. Ask if you could meet with them at another time.
  3. It is more important to tell people “what the Bible says” than “what I think.”
  4. Pray as you meet with a person to the Lord privately, asking for guidance, favor and the right words. And, most importantly show love and humility.
  5. Remember, He that is within you (the Holy Spirit) is greater than he that is in the      world (Satan). Satan is a defeated foe, dangerous, but, still defeated under the power of God.
  6. Ephesians 6:10-18 put on the FULL ARMOUR OF GOD daily, especially when witnessing.
  8. The Bible says a “wise person” wins souls. And, that there is a special crown/reward for Christians who witness and lead people to Jesus. God rewards on faithfulness in spite of what “results” from our witnessing.

Paul Ridgeway on witnessing and evangelism

Paul Ridgeway is a career accomplished event planner for big events such as Super Bowls, visits by heads of state including the former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Minnesota, Minnesota Remembers (the memorial event with 40,000  people at the state capitol just a few days after the 9/11  terrorist attacks). He also has a tender heart and love for witnessing and evangelism for Jesus Christ.

I had never heard the name Paul Ridgeway, though I knew about or even participated in big events he organized, such as the Luis Palau Twin Cities Festival, a massive two-day evangelical  revival on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in St. Paul in August 2004. Well, until this morning when I attended the last session of the 4-part series “Business Is My Calling” at New Life Academy in Woodbury.

Today’s session titled “Tell Them, Because Eternity is Forever” by Evangelist Paul Ridgeway was about witnessing and evangelism. Paul shared powerful testimonies and interesting stories he experienced in his eventful career and life. I really enjoyed his teaching and was very impressed by his boldness and humbleness in sharing the Gospel with others.

I will share Paul’s presentation in the next post.

Here is an article about Paul from Twin Cities Business.

Free summer nature camps

Every year, the School District 833 offers various free summer camps through the Office of Equity and Integration.

This summer, two nature camps are offered to elementary students only (entering 1st – 5th ) – Native American and Belwin nature camps.

Native American and Belwin Outdoor Science Summer Camp – 2 Weeks (One week at Belwin’s Nature Preserve and one week at American Indian Magnet)

  • Dates:    June 18-22 and June 25-29
  • Times:   9am – 2pm weekdays

Belwin Outdoor Science Summer Camp – 1 Week

  • Dates:    July 9-13 OR July 16-20
  • Times:   9am – 2pm weekdays

There is no cost for the camps – free tuition, free transportation, free breakfast and free lunch. Transportation will be provided to students of South Washington County Schools.

Detailed and registration information can be found on the OEI website. As space is limited, registrations will be taken in the order they are received and must be completed by April 27.

Odd days or even days – a parenting tip

Being a parent of two preteens who are less than two years apart, I have had my fair share of frustration.

My kids fought over things big or small, such as who got to use the laptop computer. They argued about who did what.

“I need to use the computer, but he/she won’t let me.”

“Why should I do this, when Andy doesn’t have to?”

“How comes Amy doesn’t have to do it?”

It was frustrating to hear their same arguments again and again.

I found a simple yet quite effective solution, using odd days and even days.

My son’s birthday falls on an odd day, my daughter on an even day. When it is an odd day, my son gets to use the computer first for an hour, then he has to let his sister use it the next hour. They take turns. On odd days he washes dishes, on even days, she washes dishes.

Once the ground rule was set, the arguments diminished considerably. No more fights and complaints as it used to be. I simply ask the question: “What day is today?” It settles before they argue.

They still argue and complain sometimes, but it’s so much better now.

I am glad I have more peace and less frustration at home now.

A blessed life

“God bless you!”

“May you be blessed!”


These are the words I often hear people use, and I have used them myself sometimes.

But what is a blessed life?

A nicer car, a dream house, the ideal job, wonderful children, more money, better health, a more comfortable life … a little nicer, better, or more of everything?


A blessed life is a life with Christ.

Yesterday evening I went to a presentation by Dr. David W. Pao at Twin City Chinese Christian Church. Dr. Pao is Professor of New Testament and Chair of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. His topic was about a blessed life. He used Jacob in the Bible as the example.

Dr. Pao said having a blessed life is to know what God’s plan is for your life and what your role is in God’s kingdom.

I think a blessed life is also a fulfilling life. A fulfilling life is the result of have your purpose, talents and values aligned.

Do you know what your purpose is in life? What gives meaning to your life?

What are your talents, gifts and skills that distinguish you from others?

What is important to you? What do you value and stand for as a person?

When you identify your talents and values, and know how to use your gifts to serve the Lord and the needs of others, you have your purpose, your calling in life. If you ignore your talents, values and purpose in life, no amount of external success can make you feel fulfilling and complete.

May you have a blessed life!

2012 Woodbury Citizen’s Academy graduation

The 2012 Woodbury Citizen’s Academy graduation ceremony took place  at the Eagle Valley Golf Course Clubhouse today at 6:30 pm.

22 members from the community graduated from the third Woodbury Citizen’s Academy.

During the last nine weekly sessions, participants learned about all aspects of Woodbury community: city government, public safety, community activities, city works, history, education, local media, business, and voluntarism.

Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation, welcomed the guests that include the graduating class, WCA alumni from last two years, Woodbury Community Foundation board members, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley,  State Representative Andrea Kieffer, Washington County commissioner Lisa Weik, etc.

Dick Hanson from Woodbury Community Foundation delivered the keynote address. Then each class member was presented with a graduation certificate and a copy of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

I was part of the first Woodbury Citizen’s Academy in 2010.



To-Enjoy list

Today is April 15. I finally got my tax returns done and ready to go, two days before the IRS tax filing deadline which is on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

For me, it was a big accomplishment and relief.

I don’t like doing tax returns, that’s why I tend to procrastinate and wait till the last days.

With the tax returns behind me, now I am thinking about the May 15 deadline of paying the semi-annual property tax.

Sometimes it feels like that life is just a never-ending to-do list, both at home and at work.

Cooking, dish washing, laundry, cleaning, bills, taxes, doctor appointments …

Staff meetings, stats, performance reviews …

Some of the things we do in life are just things we need and have to do, not what we really enjoy doing.

To-to list has a negative connotation to me. When we have a lot of things on the to-do list, life becomes weary.

To bring balance to our life, I think we should create a “To-Enjoy” list. At least once a day, ditch the to-do list and enjoy something from the “To-Enjoy” list.

My To-Enjoy list would include:

Reading, writing, gardening, walking …

This weekend, as well as last weekend, I spent several hours working in my garden, replanting and composting. I totally enjoyed it even though it was labor. I get lost in time when I am gardening.

Life is a never-ending to-do list. We need a To-Enjoy list to make life more bearable, enjoyable and exciting.

The Vacationer, the Prisoner …

In a training environment, there are generally four different types of people – the Vacationer, the Prisoner, the Expert, and the Explorer /Learner.

The Vacationer sees training as a time to get away from work and routine tasks, an opportunity to just sit back, relax and daydream. He might come late and leave early, take long lunches  or breaks. He is in a vacation mode.

The Prisoner is someone who has been sent by management and personally doesn’t want to attend the training.  The Prisoner is in class because of a job requirement. He would rather be any other place than in training.  This student is resistant to anything and everything presented.

The Expert is someone who knows it all and loves a challenge. He thinks he already has the knowledge or information. He likes to challenge the trainer on every topic.

The Explorer/Learner is the person who loves to learn and explore new ideas. This type of student will usually sit at the front of the class, often arriving early and staying late to ask a lot of questions.

I usually seek and participate in training because I am interested and want to learn and grow. I see myself as an Explorer/Learner. I always sit at the front of the class and ask questions. Sitting at the front of the class reduces distraction and allows me to listen better and pay more attention to the trainer.

We all feel like a vacationer, a prisoner, an expert and an explorer from time to time during training. The frame of mind we bring into training affects the process and the outcome of the training and learning.

When I attended the Emerging Leaders Institute training in the last few months, I think everyone of the 30 classmates was an Explorer/Learner, because we wanted to be there. It’s so much more beneficial and fun to be in the Explorer/Learner frame of mind and in the class with other like-minded people.

Proactive wellness and living

Guest column by Melanie Bowen, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

Setting and achieving goals are the real spices of life. It helps us to look forward to the future. When we have a life list, a bucket list so to speak, we have direction. We have a sense of purpose. When we feel that we have fulfilled our purpose then we feel a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment gives us a greater sense of well-being. Regardless of your age, health status, even if you were diagnosed with a disorder from mesothelioma cancer to arthritis, anyone can benefit from making a life list and maintaining personal goals.

Part of proactive wellness is taking charge of your health. Making goals and accomplishing tasks can promote a healthy quality of life. Through writing your desires, wishes, and accomplishments on your life list you be able to start living for the future.

Undertaking smaller tasks will give you more confidence to reach for the larger ones. When writing down your desires, wishes, and goals break them up into smaller pieces. Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture when you break it up into smaller segments. For instance, here is what you can do to help plan a cruise to the Caribbean. The first step is to research prices. Next, find the price that best suits your budget. Research tickets, cruise lines, flights, and find the right date. Once you find those things book your trip and you are done! It’s that simple. If you continue these steps with other goals will quickly find that you have overcome the obstacles associated with completing goals. Even if you have purposed to start a community project take on the smaller aspects of that goal until that project has come into being.

Finding the spice of life and looking forward to the future doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. You can participate in proactive wellness through making a life list. You can overcome the obstacles that try to hinder progression towards reaching your goals. What will you do with your life? How do you want others to see your life? Will you have the courage to face your fears and reach your goals? Don’t wait! Start now and look toward the future.

Check out a new online resource for more on living with illness, from the voice of those going through it to the voice of those that shine inspiration into the hearts of others: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

Smart trust

Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World” is the title of a newly published book by Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link.

This Wednesday, Covey joined MnDOT’s monthly Commissioner’s Reading Corner book discussion and talked with employees about trust building strategies via a video conference.

Building and increasing trust with the citizens of Minnesota is something MnDOT has been working on since the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007 and the current Commissioner Tom Sorel took the leadership position several months later in 2008.

In the book as well as in the discussion, Covey talks about five actions that produce Smart Trust:

  1. Choose to Believe in Trust
  2. Start With Self
  3. Declare Your Intent … and Assume Positive Intent in Others
  4. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
  5. Lead Out in Extending Trust to Others

Covey is also the author of the popular book “The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.”

In that book, Covey introduces the trust phenomenon across 5 waves. Understanding these 5 waves will enable you to behave in ways that establish trust and allow you to become a leader who gets results by inspiring trust in others.

  1. First Wave: Self Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility.
  2. Second Wave: Relationship Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior.
  3. Third Wave: Organizational Trust. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create organizational trust.
  4. Fourth Wave: Market Trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation.
  5. Fifth Wave: Societal Trust. The principle underlying this wave is contribution.

Covey also identifies 13 behaviors that builds trust:

  1. Talk Straight
  2. Demonstrate Respect
  3. Create Transparency
  4. Right Wrongs
  5. Show Loyalty
  6. Deliver Results
  7. Get Better
  8. Confront Reality
  9. Clarify Expectations
  10. Practice Accountability
  11. Keep Commitments
  12. Listen First
  13. Extend Trust

Stephen M. R. Covey  is the son of Stephen R. Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.