Monday, February 20, 2017

Finding the Best Way

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12

Most biblical proverbs are met with a calm nod.  “Yes, that is true,” we say to ourselves.  Some, like this one, are met with a calm nod and then a horrifying shudder.  We nod when we think of how this applies to others, and shudder when we realize it also applies to us.  This “way” could be the manner in which we do business.  This “way” could be the choices we make in our families.  This “way” could be choosing to try to earn our salvation through our own good works, rather than resting upon Christ’s completed work.  They appear right, but they end in death.  This is the way that our sin nature gains control over us, by offering “better” alternatives to problems than what is given by God in His word.  They may seem right from our perverse and biased little perspective, but when viewed from the standpoint of the Truth of God’s word the end is clear.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bad Smells, Great Results!

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Proverbs 14:4

My wife would laugh if she ever read this sentence from me: I like things neat and tidy.  It is probably better put: I like things simple and as conflict-free as possible.  I find in ministry, in business and in family the reality is the same: The more people you bring in, the more mess you are going to have.  There are temptations to be found on both sides.  One side would seek to get rid of the ox so there was nothing to clean up.  The other would get as many oxen as they can and choose not to clean up after them.  Either extreme will result in failure, but if we are willing to accept that expanding our lives to include new relationships WILL bring more work we will find ourselves in the best relational situation possible.  

Discipline and Good Times

He who spares the rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Proverbs 13:24

Discipline is a concept regularly misunderstood in the human context.  The worst of this confusion is that which exists between discipline and punishment.  Punishment involves righteousness, justice and fairness.  A person is punished to in some way make things right after an offense or wrong action.  Discipline, however, is corrective in nature.  When parents observe their children behaving in ways that are selfish, dishonest, hurtful, or disrespectful and they take no corrective action they are not preparing their child to live in the world which they will one day face.  The reason?  They hate their children.  That sounds extreme, but it is the reality.  The parent who loves their momentary comfort more than the difficulty of training their child to live a godly life simply loves themselves than their child.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Protecting Your Life

He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 13:3

Do you remember when television stations used to go off air?  Once everything was said for the day the screen would go to a familiar pattern and that would be all that would be broadcast for a few hours at least.  In reading and re-reading through the Proverbs each month I am always struck at how many of them are about the spoken word.  They are a special caution to our modern time which almost never knows silence.  This lack of silence seems to infect our conversations and time with others as well.  Rather than allowing a quiet and understanding silence we feel compelled to fill the air with any talk, regardless of how empty, awful or destructive those words may be.  The speech pattern “awkward silence” has become very common phrase in our regular speech, so common that any silence is viewed as being awkward.  Becoming comfortable with silence in our private life may be exactly what is needed to become comfortable with silence in our social life, and that comfort with silence may be life-saving, in the right situation.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Satisfied with Words

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of His mouth,
And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.
Proverbs 12:14

The New Age Movement has made a great deal of the idea of “Creative Visualization”, sometimes this is put forward as “The Laws of Attraction”, but the idea is about the same.  The idea of thinking about something and then constantly placing it before you allows you to shape your own reality is a sort of hocus pocus take on a simple concept that God has already put into place.

Once we put the mystical and magical aside we see that the concept of reaping what we sow is very clear in Scripture and is clear in our daily lives.  The words a person speaks absolutely dictates much of the flow of the life they will live.  People whose speech is offensive, mean spirited, or abusive find themselves lonely – because who wants to be around that non-sense?  The person whose speech is negative, self-pitying and defensive will also find himself alone and dissatisfied with their lives.  A person whose speech is honest, uplifting and kind will be satisfied by the words of their mouths.  This is not some strange new-age law of the universe – it is simple cause and effect!

The Peak of God's Creation

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness to the bones.
Proverbs 12:4

Modern American culture is having some real issues understanding ideas like gender identity and an even greater problem in dealing with the Biblical concept of marriage.  It is important that we realize two important things. First, that both gender and marriage are God’s creations (seen in Genesis 1-2).  Second, that men and women are created in an equal standing before God to serve and honor one another.  The first fact reminds us that we cannot change the rules of God’s world without disastrous effects.  The second fact reminds us that our differences serve a vital purpose in our calling and place in this world.

Once this is understood the relationship between the sexes can finally flower.  The husband values and glories in the wonderful gift of his wife.  This is made even more plain in Proverbs 31, but the reality is that a wife has the power to bring success or destruction to her household.  To build up her household, or to destroy the household.  All of this potential greatness placed in the pinnacle of God’s amazing creative work – the woman.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Really Rich

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Proverbs 11:25

There is a decided trend in Scripture that simply cannot be denied: generosity has great results.  This proverb is by no means a promise that every generous person will become financially wealthy – that is not the nature of the proverbs.  It is an observation that those who are generous tend to see the good results of their kind-hearted generosity.  Generosity comes in many forms.  Monetary generosity is the most commonly considered – but there is so much more to be said on the topic.  It can be far more difficult to find a person who is generous with their time.  Even among those who are generous with their time even fewer have a truly generous and caring spirit that is attentive to the spiritual and emotional needs of others.  Investment in these areas brings real riches.