Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Kind of MicahGirl

I just got A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McLaren and have read only the first couple chapters. I made myself put it down because I don't want to rush through it. When Dan, disillusioned pastor, meets Neo, postmodern sage, and senses this safe person with whom he can be completely honest I found myself yearning for just such a person in my life. I've also begun Blue Like Jazz, by Don Miller and love his honest writing. I yearn to write something that is so compelling because it is so raw and true. But I always hide behind propriety and reserve which are hard-wired into my psyche. Even when I wasn't a mother/minister/ministry leader I was always a caretaker-type who did not feel the freedom to let down her guard with anyone. And yet those are the people who are able to speak truth into people's lives. I share my experiences with people, but only those that are safely in the past.

I sometimes share the story that, in the past, I was involved in a relationship that was a mismatch but I was so intensely connected to him that I lied to myself believing that he might be the one for me. When he died suddenly it left an aching void that taught me how to really walk with Jesus, and God filled that emptiness with Himself and then, miraculously, gifted me with the man I love who shares his life with me. The man who still makes me smile and blush and flirt (especially in the privacy of our bedroom), the man who listens to my frustrations with ministry, encourages me to be strong and courageous, and thinks that I am a sexy woman, great mom and interesting friend. I gush when I talk about him because he, though human and imperfect, is perfect for me.

But the struggles that I have today I don't share because it doesn't feel safe. The struggle to fulfill my calling to ministry as a woman in a bottom-line male-dominated patriarchal denomination. My mommy guilt about whether or not I am a patient and loving enough example of Christ to my kids, about whether I devote enough to their homeschooling, about my lousy housekeeping. My struggles with humbly submitting myself to God, while trying to blaze a trail for others and calling for them to follow my leading. My inability to be able to categorize myself as a woman (which maybe is a good thing) because I am nurturing, traditional, cooking all the meals, homeschooling the kids, earth mother as well as highly-educated, deep-thinking, post-feminist, post-modern emerging Christian leader leaving Generation X and rushing into the New Millenium.

But if, indeed, it's all about the process, then I am well on my way. If it's about arriving, I may never get there.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

Sacred Space

I have been checking out this devotional site this week. It's a simple guided prayer thing, and today it really spoke to me. This was one of the quotes that I loved:

A thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never believe
that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture,
and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor,
who sees by her genius what she can make of it. (St Ignatius)
I ask for the grace to let myself be shaped by my loving Creator.

I wonder what plans God has for me???


Thursday, November 25, 2004

To Write Beautifully

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.
That is all ye know on Earth,
and all ye need to know."
  --  John Keats

To write beautifully is elusive, but I know that it has something to do with telling the truth. You cannnot successfully write beautiful prose by being flowery anymore than an actor can be funny in a scene by going for the laugh... The actor's secret is to play the scene for truth, and the humor flows out of the "Aha!" moment as the audience members recognize themselves in the reality of the situation.

As I recall from my high school days, Aristotle's Poetics defines tragedy as something that incites pity and fear in the audience. The movement of hearts and souls in the theatre is a spiritual art, and good writing is the same.

And so I blog on...just to capture my wandering thoughts, to take a snapshot of the carousel spinning in my mind, to organize my thoroughly random ideas in a collage of images called Musings of MicahGirl.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I love the Book of Common Prayer because throughout my college years I worshipped at an Episcopal Church. I loved the liturgy and the beauty and comfort of familiar words. It was not empty repetition (as non-liturgical types might think) because it was a form that was filled up with my love for God. Just as the repetition of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" can be either full of heartfelt praise or empty of anything but melody, so can liturgy. When I drive by Episcopal or Catholic Churches I sometimes feel a nudge to go in to the sanctuary, open a musty Book of Common Prayer, and meditate by a stained glass window.

On Thanksgiving Eve, I think of the General Thanksgiving which so beautifully reflects an awesome respect for God and a desire for submission to Him:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Team Ministry-The Continuing Discussion

I think the team is like a marriage in that it needs to have an overriding purpose that is bigger than the partners, and that conflict needs to be handled in such a way that the good of the ministry is put ahead of the individual agendas of the partners. Therefore, rather than proving one's rightness at all costs, and getting lost in petty disputes, there needs to be a commitment to submission to what God is seeking to do through the team.

I don't think everyone needs to be the best of friends but it is important to have mutual respect. I do think that there are times when someone is not a good fit on a team, and both the team and the individual should have the opportunity to end the relationship for the good of the ministry. (In that way it is not like a marriage.)

I do think that there needs to be one individual with final authority to say yes or no to decisions, mission, vision-casting, etc. That person should seek to lead through consensus, humility, and submission to Christ. However, they need to be willing to take ultimate responsibility for how things go and to reserve the right to final veto.

I think Acts 16 is my personal ideal--vision from God, confirmation from team. It doesn't happen every time! I also don't think every little decision needs to be perfectly harmonious. That is where mutual submission comes in, as well as deferring to certain individuals with particular gifting. For example, the worship leader should not need to be micromanaged by the pastor, and should be trusted to work out certain details independently.

As far as teams separating I think that sometimes people are called to a place for a brief season, sometimes for a longer period. It's not necessarily a sign of discord or division for teams to change. Long-term unity and stability is an excellent goal, of course, but it can't be forced. It needs to come from the Spirit, from clear vision casting, a flexible but strong leader, and an environment that allows for risk-taking.

I coordinate a collegiate ministry team with short-term missionaries and student leaders. We have just today come to a decision regarding major changes in a city-wide worship service. It has been a full month of prayer, discussion, conflict, and surprising challenges. Through it I have been seeking to model dependence on God for vision, willingness to listen to various viewpoints and patience. This has been a struggle since I have experienced frustration and even anger in response to some of the challenges. Today for the first time I saw some remarkable consensus from all of my team members and leaders. Everyone is agreed regarding the major shift in direction. The logistics are not yet worked out, but I am so thankful that everyone is now of one mind. I hope and pray that the rest will fall into place.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Emergent Church Planting in Europe

Emergent Church Planting in Europe

I have been enjoying reading a blog about a fantasy job of mine: church planting in Europe.

I just posted a comment to a question about building a team ministry:


In my experience managing a team ministry my biggest challenge is first to trust that God has brought together the right mix of people to accomplish His task, and second to identify gifting not only by what people think their gifts are, but also by my discernment and observation. After that it is to lead them by listening to their passions and diverse viewpoints and building consensus in order to further our ministry goals. This includes managing conflict without letting it drive the team apart. Just like in marriage, I think it is critical not to fight one another, but to fight for the relationship.

Micah Girl

Anarchy Discipleship

What does it really mean to make disciples of Christ? Can a program achieve that end? Does it need to be one-on-one? Does it include more relationship and hospitality than bible verses and theology? It is some mix in between?

In many of the emergent rants that are going on (rants that I love by the way) there is a deep distrust of anything that smells of institutionalism. And yet can discipleship be anarchical? With centuries of church history and the biblical record itself, is there not a usefulness to ordering information in such a way that it can be passed on, so that everyone is on the same page? Even if the credo is "in essentials unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in everything, charity.". ... one needs to agree on the essentials in order to unify.

I often hear people speak about the beauty of the Westminster Catechism (something out of my tradition) but I know that such a statement was radical in its day. It was an awe-inspiring summation of all that was believed to be true. It begins with the simple question & answer:

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer: Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

It goes on to clearly elucidate all the questions and answers that a young Christian should memorize in order to understand the Christian faith and practice. And yet for many who this life-changing information was only something to be crammed and drilled in order to pass some sort of Jeopardy quiz.

Alternatively, every faith community from house church to Saddleback Community Church has some credo to let others know what they stand for whether it's to live out Christ in community or the five essentials of a purpose-driven church. Why constantly re-invent or re-state?

Most importantly, how do you make a disciple who knows Christ and lives Christ and shares Christ in word and deed?


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Homeschooling as spiritual formation

The decision to homeschool our children grew out of our deep and abiding love and affection for our children and our desire to be the formative influence in their lives. They sprang from our very bodies and carry around both our DNA and our foibles, and we love them more than anyone else could. We want to give them a childhood....one with unstructured free time to invent games and live inside their imagination and be innocent for a while. To HAVE a childhood...it seems that so much in our culture is about pushing kids into an adult achievement mold.

We also want them to form an identity that tells them who they are...a member of a family that seeks to serve Christ on a daily basis, children of two languages and two cultures, students of the world, discoverers of the unique, divinely designed persons they were created to be. We don't want them to be formed primarily by the gimme culture of materialism, or the high pressure competition to beat everyone else out with their grades or their athletic skill. Whatever gifts they have been blessed with are for the purpose of serving others, not themselves. Oh, to teach them that early by example and by the Holy Spirit so that they would reflect God in this world...


Emerging kick

I am on an emerging kick. Emerging church, emerging blogs, emerging women in ministry... It's old news on the internet, but I'm just really getting up to speed now-not with the trendy hipster part (that's just flash anyway) but with the theological basis for it all. I went to my local Christian bookstore to buy some of the foundational texts...A New Kind of Christian, Brian McLaren & Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller, but they were OUT! I've special-ordered them and they should be in within the week.

I am not interested in being "cutting edge" for the sake of pushing the envelope of the latest POMO thought, but I am interested in authentic Christian community. I have concern for the salvation of individuals, as well as their need for social justice now. I would like to see more women in positions of spiritual authority (which isn't about power at all, it's about submission to God and service to others!) I am really interested in www.solomonsporch.com a church in Minneapolis as well as the whole www.emergentvillage.com scene, especially the initiative about women in ministry.

I keep wondering if God is calling me not just to ministry, which I have been doing for years professionally, but also to the pastorate. Not because I presently have time for a full time pastorate (I'm homeschooling my kids!), and not within my denomination (no female senior pastors there!) but because my heart and mind keeps going back to it. I love my life right now overall, and the balance of ministry & home life that I have. I have my AAARGH frustrations, I have my financial insecurity regarding future funding, and I have a desire to be a woman in a key ministry position alongside of the men so that eventually the rest of the old boy network will really GET IT that women, as well as men, are called by Christ to serve others, to share the good news of the Kingdom and to make a difference in the world. It's never been about the power, it's always been about serving God and submitting to Him.

Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Planning and vision

As I am working through a time of ministry with my team where we are seeking to discern a new direction from God, it has been difficult. The unity that we have had on the team is not there in the same way as it appeared to be previously. Conflict is inevitable, especially in the face of change, and I don't pretend to know everything. However, the final responsibility for direction changes falls on me. I seek to lead by consensus, but I ultimately must make the final call. That was the reason for yesterday's "Aargh!"

In Proverbs 16 there is wise counsel regarding planning:

Proverbs 16
1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.
(I have in my heart the outline of a vision for ministry in this place, but ultimately God decides whether or not it comes to pass.)

2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD .
(Everything I do seems to me to be right and appropriate because I am not able to discern the truth of my own motives-nor can anyone else on my team.)

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
(I do commit to God what we are doing-I seek His direction, not my own, and submit myself to His plan-for His plans always succeed.)

4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends-
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
(God works everything out according to His plan because He is in charge...He even brings justice to the wicked.)

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Approaching God with a proud heart will not earn his favor or go without consequence. It is only in submitting oneself to Him, shifting the focus off myself and onto His plans that I can plan in accordance with what He wants.)

Help me, Lord, to honor You in all I plan and dream. For Your glory alone.


Monday, November 15, 2004


Sometimes, like Charlie Brown, all I can say is AAARGH!


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Contentment as a life's goal

A woman that I knew as an acquaintance for years once told me that I was the most content person she knew. How she felt she knew this about me, I am not sure, but I was deeply moved because that is one of my life's goals. I suppose it's something like receiving the blue ribbon for humility and then proudly wearing it, but I was very affirmed by her observation. My life has not been easy all the time. I have known suffering and loss, frustration and pain, boredom and malaise. However, in all of this I seek to find contentment-peace-joy-abundant life here and now because this is all I have right now. I believe in eternity, I believe in salvation through the blood of Christ, but I only have today right now. And I want to be like Paul. Content, gracious, loving, patient. And humble. So humble that someone gives me a blue ribbon.

Philippians 4: 12, 13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Heart-to-heart with hubby

My love and I had one of those heart-to-heart conversations yesterday about our life together that was so perfect. One of those conversations that women't magazines give you tips on starting, which, when approached artificially can make your husband run in the other direction because it seems like a forced "let's talk" session, but when it just happens...it's great. So much of relating to a man has to do with sharing activities and talking as friends, instead of trying to plan a psychologically sound, directed conversation. Quantity of time is important to relationships because supposed quality time is hard to manufacture. It needs to be discovered...it's a serendipitous result of the mundane work of daily living together.

We were at a living history museum with the kids...one of those places where the kids can dress up in old-fashioned clothes and play with simple toys and pretend they are playing house hundreds of years ago. All of them were playing so happily together that he and I could just sit and talk. We covered church, ministry, marriage, how our life just worked because we aren't hung up with other people's expectations of our lives. We just are who we are. I couldn't ask for anything more.


Friday, November 12, 2004

Writing to rock the world

I am fairly new to blogs: both reading them and writing them. I find that I am drawn to blogs that are well written, that talk about the process of writing, that reflect on faith in the real world, that struggle with the desire to be heard for pure motives and the awareness that writing is most often based on "Look at me! Aren't I interesting?" The draw of writing is that it seems like an equal opportunity platform compared to other creative expression-as long as you can write and put your thoughts together--you have the opportunity to try to rock someone's world with your prose. You don't have to look glamorous or even professional while you're doing it since it's so solitary. (For a mother of young children, however, it is solitary only in my mind. I am surrounded by my three kids almost all the time. Fortunately, they love to read to themselves, even those who don't yet read, and that's when I can steal a few minutes.)

A blog is just a place to work out the muscles, to free the thoughts and to hopefully learn to write without self-consciousness. For me it's the lack of self-consciousness that is hardest. So much of what I write on a weekly basis is to teach the Word of God or to cast a vision for ministry. Those activities are so audience-specific that they are narrow in focus and although hopefully filled with frank discussions of truth and vibrant pictures of life now and life eternal, they are more functional that expressive. The ego of a writer is that she desires to rock the world with her writing-a fluid expression of her innermost soul that can trickle like water through a brook, pound like waves on the shore or gush like the falls, depending upon what is going on in her heart. Or at least that's one of my other fantasies.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

PhD Fantasy

I recently saw one of my former student missionaries who is now finishing up a Master's Degree and applying to doctoral programs. If I had no other obligations...no husband, no kids, no ministry demands on my time...if I was 24 and single...I could so get lost in the academic world of ideas. I still have this fantasy of going back to get my doctorate when the kids are older and teaching something erudite in an ivory tower somewhere. But the time involved and the likelihood of me actually getting to teach anywhere starting this late in my career are pretty slim, so it will probably remain a fantasy. Like most fantasies I am sure the idea of it is much more romantic than the day-to-day.

I am truly blessed because I am married to the love of my life, have beautiful, amazing children, teach them myself at home, and yet still have college students and young adults in my life whom I love and mentor. I think that my own unique life path is probably much better suited to me than the fantasies I have.


Friday, November 05, 2004

Schemes for independence

Whenever job insecurity gets me down, I start going into mental overdrive regarding ways to make my way in the world without working for someone else's paycheck. Real estate investment, owning a business, coming up with a million dollar idea... Of course the only capital that I have right now is my brains and my experience...no money and not too much extra time. And yet there must be something out there for me. I am yearning for the freedom from debt, from financial worries, from sweating my paycheck when there are cutbacks. Help me, Lord, never to trust in my riches or to doubt in your provision for me, no matter what happens.

Proverbs 30
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Job Insecurity

We had one of those long denominational meetings today where we have to discuss the fact that there is even less funding for missionaries, the strategy for ministry is radically changing to a strategy where I wonder if as a woman I would be welcome to remain in leadership (a shift away from parachurch-type model to a church planting model which requires male headship in my particular church setting.) Ever since I felt called by God to work in this place in this group of churches I have wondered...when will the other shoe drop? When does someone decide....she's a girl, therefore she cannot be in any kind of authority over a mixed group! It seems so ridiculous, and yet...

And yet I trust in Jesus and His call on my life and not on church authorities. I trust in my Creator and not my co-workers.

Have mercy, Lord!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

An Open Letter to President Bush

Dear President Bush,

Congratulations. Today you have succeeded in being re-elected to a second term as President of the United States. You and our country are in my prayers.

I must tell you, as an evangelical "security mom" with conservative family values, I was still anguished over who would receive my vote yesterday. I was in prayer over my vote for weeks. Although I appreciate your intention to create a culture of life, your desire to appoint Supreme Court Justices who strictly interpret the Consitution instead of legislating from the bench, and, most especially, the superb way that you lead our country directly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, I have very deep concerns.

As a committed Christian person, and as a leader who once claimed Jesus Christ as the primary philosopher who influences your decisions as a statesman, I have many concerns regarding the war in Iraq. First of all, violence should be our last resort as a great country, not our first. Second, when in your judgment as Commander in Chief you decide that we must go to war in order to defend ourselves, you must have the best intelligence as well as the appropriate preparation for unintended consequences. Many brave American and coalition soldiers as well as Iraqi civilians and other non-military civilians have died because of our poor planning and lack of foresight in this war. Even when the intelligence with which you persuaded this country to pre-emptively attack Iraq was proven to be less than reliable and the conflict itself has proved to be bloodier and longer than anticipated, you have never expressed anything less than total resolve and self-assurance that your decision was appropriate. Mr. President, as believers in Christ, we are called to humble ourselves when we err and to seek peace before war. I pray that when you make decisions that impact our country and our world for generations to come, that you would seek wise counsel and the peace that passes understanding so that you may be numbered among the blessed peacemakers in the world.

Mr. President, yesterday I voted for Senator John Kerry instead of you after having voted for you in the 2000. I did so with deep reflection and with tears, and pray that you would rise not only to the challenge of leading the most influential country in the world, but to follow the example of Jesus Christ in all that you do. May God richly bless you and your family as well as our nation.



Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Working woman/Homebody

Yesterday was my long work day...I arrived at 8:00 AM and had meeting after meeting with my team straight without a break until about 2:00 or so. Then I went shopping for dinner for the bible study at my house, came home, cleaned, cooked and finished preparing a study on sloth. (Yesterday, I was not guilty of sloth.) It was a very emotional day, however, because of some of the issues at church and interpersonal issues with the guys on the team, and my heart was heavy. I was joyful in spite of it....partly because of the adrenaline of my Mondays, partly because ministering to my team and my students energizes me.

Today, I slept in a little. (As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed Proverbs 26:14) I may have been guilty of sloth this morning. My munchkins came to awaken me over their own interpersonal conflict. This was one that was more easily remedied than the one yesterday- it only required a little intervention and will not require extended prayer or further meetings.

The contrast between my mornings is so different. Yesterday I was dressed presentably, laptop case on my shoulder, into the car by 7:45. Grown up conversations, ministry responsibilities, busy schedule. Today I am still not dressed, have had a cup of coffee, and am discussing our high powered schedule for the day: library visit to find books on Vikings, errands, two trips to pick up stuff I got on www.freecycle.org (ballet clothes for my daughter and a new twin bed for my son!). I love my homebody days, too. We'll do homeschool lessons, read stories, and also pick up bedrooms to make room for the new furniture. I really love my life. I used to wonder about the contrasts in my life...professional minister and homeschool mom...but now I don't think about it as much and instead enjoy the fact that I can be the primary caregiver and teacher to my kids, while having other "kids" that are young adults in my ministry.

I think that the joy of finding my own way in life, the life that God created me to live, is so much more interesting than following the confines of other's expectations. (Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1,2)

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Mother's Heart/A Pastor's Heart

Working with young missionaries as I do, my job is both to pastor and to mother. I guide them and lead them, help identify their gifts and hold them accountable for their use, supervise them and evaluate them, listen to their triumphs and their struggles, hear their confessions and their prayer requests. I mediate their conflicts, laugh at their jokes, cry with them and pray for them. I really do love them, maybe not right from the start, but as I spend time with them, as I get frustrated with them, as I marvel at their idealism and wonder at their pigheadedness, I grow to view them with the fierce affection of a mother. Today one of my guys is struggling through a broken heart...not over a romance, but a friendship that does not have the level of intimacy, accountability and transparency that he seeks. This young man is tender-hearted and blunt, passionate yet distracted, idealistic yet cynical. His hurts run deep, his energy is infectious. As I was praying with him today, I cried because I feel like his mother and when he is hurt, I hurt for him. I am also disappointed in his behavior during a recent fight with his friend, and wish that his maturity would catch up with his passion. Lord, have mercy and bless him with Your peace and supernatural guidance.

Undecided evangelical: Who on earth will I vote for?

I am the undecided voter. Don't fit the profile...I am a pro-life, moral conservative, evangelical, security mom. I also come from working class sensibilities, am internationally concerned, politically engaged and moderate regarding many social issues. I could probably stump for either George Bush or John Kerry. I have been praying for wisdom, and am still not sure how to vote!

Proverbs 8
1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates leading into the city,
at the entrances, she cries aloud:
4 "To you, O men, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, gain understanding.
6 Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are faultless to those who have knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

12 "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have understanding and power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers make laws that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and all nobles who rule on earth. [1]
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing wealth on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.

22 "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, [2] , [3]
before his deeds of old;
23 I was appointed [4] from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.
24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

32 "Now then, my sons, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not ignore it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the LORD .
36 But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
all who hate me love death."

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