Category Archives: advice

Safely across to dry ground

buckley

The Mighty Wonder Buck enjoying his outing.

Buckley and I enjoy terrain hiking in a tiny semi-secluded patch of the planet belonging to the college where my husband works.  It’s private land, so I’m thinking the town’s leash laws are not in effect. It’s also one of the few places I can let him range, and he loves it!

So do I.  Not only for myself, but I get such a kick out of watching him enjoy the freedom, and I marvel at the sure-footedness of this rescue pound-puppy of ours.  Not that I can say that about myself, mind you.  No, this one carries a walking stick, wears special insoles in trail running shoes (in which I walk, not run), and even then I have to pick carefully through leaves and creek beds, using that opposable thumb to grab and hoist myself up the hills.

Buckley, the barefoot creature without the opposable thumb?  Right.  He leaves me in the dust. 

I have to be especially attentive when crossing a brook.  Picking my way safely can be challenging (it’s part of the fun), and watching for slippery moss on the rocks is imperative.  If I’m not careful, I’m all wet. 

Hold that thought for a sec.

Proverbs chapter ten is largely concerned with my words, which is a pretty good indicator of what’s in my heart.  Here is a running commentary contrasting the attitude (as shown by their words) of the wise person versus the fool.  Just a sampling—

The wise are glad to be instructed,
    but babbling fools fall flat on their faces…

People with integrity walk safely,…

This isn’t just an observation, (Solomon was quite good at that), but more importantly, a warning.  It’s easy to be drawn into a foolish argument; that is, an argument that is void of the primary foundation of wisdom—

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Without this, the encounter can become slippery at best, treacherous at worst, causing confusion, rancor, and division (to name a few.)

Here’s another comparison—

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;

…but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

Are my words giving life?  Or are my words making safe passage unattainable?

Or is it a discussion I should even enter into at this place?

When one of these conversations presents itself, the godly participant does well to stand on the shore and survey how to get across safely to the other side. 

Otherwise, you’re all wet.

Proverbs 10:8,9,11,14; 9:10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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“Before Abraham…I Am”

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. – Proverbs 8:23

Before we leave Proverbs chapter 8, I want us to notice one of the most glorious truths displayed in all of Scripture: the eternality of Jesus Christ.

Notice in verses 22-31 that at least six different times Wisdom is mentioned as having been with God from before the foundation of the earth. Carefully read through these verses in Proverbs while you consider the following:

  • In John 1:1-2 Jesus is called the Word of God who was with God and was God.
  • In John 8:58 Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
  • In John 17:24 we read where Jesus was praying to the Father and said: “My glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
  • Speaking of the coming Messiah, Isaiah 9:6 calls Him “the Everlasting.”
  • Micah 5:2, also speaking of the coming Messiah, said: “His goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.”
  • In Hebrews 13:8 we read that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
  • In Revelation 1:11 Jesus says of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last…”
  • And if it was ever a question that Jesus claimed to be God, when you compare John 8:58 and Revelation 1:11 to Isaiah 48:12, then there should be no doubt: “I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.”

Make no mistake, the parallels are too similar to deny…Jesus, the Power and Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), is being prophetically referenced here in this chapter. As the Holy Spirit moved through the prophet David, Solomon’s father, to write Psalm 22 in anticipation of the crucifixion, so does He move through Solomon to describe the glorious, eternal nature of the Messiah, Jesus.

But there’s one more thing I want you to see… His delights are with the sons of men (Proverbs 8:31).

The Word of God made flesh…the Wisdom of God who was there before the foundation of the world…the Savior who came and dwelt among us (Emmanuel – see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23)…

He delights to be with you and me! He literally wants to spend time with us because he loves and cares for us.

Therefore, considering what we’ve read, we should all the more take seriously the closing verse in this chapter.

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. – Proverbs 8:36

To seek Wisdom is a choice, but failing to do so can have eternal ramifications.


Are you listening?

headphones-152341_1280I am at a venerable point in life when my adult children, (all in their 30’s at this writing), have been saying thing like,

“Mom, I heard you coming out of my mouth!”, or…

“Is that how Dad would treat Mom?”, or…

“I’m ‘channeling’ you, Mom”, and one of my personal favorites after the birth of a granddaughter,

“Mom, I’m sorry for all the #*@!! I put you through.”

It’s a time when you realize that something, by God’s grace, got through, is still getting through.  Sometimes it sure seems like our kids just aren’t paying attention.

But they are.  In more ways than one.

I love the New Living Translation header for Proverbs chapter 7:

“Another Warning about Immoral Women”

Emphasis on “another”.  Just in case you missed the first one or two. 

Can’t you just see the kid rolling his eyes?  That whole oh-mom-do-we-have-to-talk-about-this-again attitude. 

To which the obvious answer is emphatically affirmative.  Because it’s critically important that the child is told why.  Because they have friends who haven’t been told.  Because there’s a society drooling in anticipation to ensnare him in something dangerous and deadly.

Like chapter five, this chapter isn’t just for the guys, either.  And actually, taken as a whole, it can be seen as something more than sexual promiscuity, something far deeper and far more insidious—

Seduction.

How interesting that Babylon is personified in Revelation as a prostitute.  Babylon, the representation of all that is anti-Christ, all that would seduce me away from Christ and set up her own kingdom within my heart.  If I read Proverbs chapter seven and insert the word “Babylon” in place of “woman”, it brings out a whole new context.  It forces me to look at myself, my decisions, my desires in an uncomfortable light. 

Seduction.  Undoubtedly, sex is one of the vehicles that the enemy perverts for this purpose.  It’s definitely a strong one, but it’s only one.  He has many options when it comes to seduction.

  • People’s applause and affirmation, (including family, loved ones, people whose opinions “count”),
  • Financial security, (an oxymoron, BTW),
  • Emotional comfort zone

You know, like sex, all these can be good things!  We need affirmation, I appreciate my husband’s detail to retirement preparation, and emotional security is important to every other kind of health, so that’s not the point.  Instead, when these things (and there are many others) draw us away from God’s intended purpose—intimacy with Himself—then Seduction is at work…overtime!

I appreciate the in-your-face strategies that given in this same chapter, including 1st-person observation revealing the woman’s tricks, calling attention to the son’s heart (something sorely neglected in our day), the use of flattery, the lie of anonymity, and the advice to not even start down that path.  It reminds me that I need some strategies as well…

“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

The words of the Parent ring just as true today, in all areas of life.  I aspire to be an attentive child.

 


2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 2:11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


In Defense of Chapter Five

rose-2539951_1920When I was asked to be a part of Proverbial Thought, I felt honored not only because some level of esteem was ascribed to my writing, but also from a gender perspective—they wanted a “woman’s point of view” (whatever that is in the 21st century…)

Which means I’m having a hey-day with this week’s chapter of Proverbs, challenging my beloved brethren to not mince any words.  (Giggle.)  Just let it rip, guys.  I’m not touchin’ it.

On the other hand, there is another point worth mentioning (from a woman’s point of view, mind you.)  For reference, the whole of chapter five is emphatic with warnings to men against prostitution and other illicit sexual encounters and, by implication, pornography.  (The medical evidence alone concerning the personal and societal effects of porn is enough to convict said “freedoms of speech”, but another post perhaps.)

But the chapter here implies, for the attentive reader, that there also exist the same emphatic warnings for women.  No, a woman’s typical physical and emotional wiring doesn’t tend to offer much temptation in the area of seeking out pornography or prostitution.  Fairly safe to say that, for most women, sex is more about relationship, acceptance, and security, at least in some context, rather than mere physical pleasure.  (Which is also not a bad thing, just sayin…)

So, just how does Proverbs chapter five relate to women? 

Just ask companies like Harlequin Romance that proliferate on new and used bookstore shelves.  Even the Christian genre has jumped on the wagon!  Then there are the “soap operas” that came out not long after TV made its own nefarious debut, and women began to refer to their faves as “my stories”. 

Ever wonder why these are so popular? Hollywood isn’t stupid; they know how to make money, and they know sex sells for men, and relationship sells for women.

The reality of it is this: both of these were created by God, and He calls everything He made “good”.  The issue is that, as John Eldredge puts it, we tanked the whole project by the third chapter of Genesis. 

And it’s been a struggle for clarity and satisfaction ever since.

It’s about intimacy, and how we (both men and women) tend to look for it in all the wrong places; how the broken places of our hearts no longer care and maybe have stopped even caring to try to care.  Even the “immoral woman” spoken of in this chapter still had a soul, albeit a wounded one—there was some reason that she went in that direction.  Even in that culture, if given a choice, I doubt prostitution would have been her first one.

Jesus knew that.  Our sexuality doesn’t intimidate Him, even our fragmented sexuality.  That’s only a sign of our broken intimacy, just another thing He is able to mend.

I’ll let the guys talk about the finer points of Proverbs chapter five.  Here’s my verse:

The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

That goes for men and women alike!

Luke 4:17-21 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


“With ALL Thine Heart”

Proverbs 3:5 is probably the most famous verse in all of chapter three. As a matter of fact, one post this week has already addressed it. 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

However, one part is worth another look, if for no other reason than to remind us once again of something we should already know. 

“All” means all.  

How often do we say we trust God, but then fall back on our own knowledge, experience, and conscience when His leading seems to conflict with our understanding? We read His commands, sense the Spirit’s leading, but then doubt Him. 

There are parts of our hearts that don’t want to yield. They will fight, kick, and scream in order to have their way. The Lord will ask us to do something, only to have a part of us reply, “But my heart disagrees.”

Verse 6 tells us that when we let the Lord have control, He will “direct” our paths. That means He will make the paths of life straight, passable, smoother, and more direct. In other words, it may be the “straight and narrow,” but it will get you where you need to go without the damage to your suspension a rutted, pothole-filled highway may bring. Yet, how often we say, “My heart is telling me to go another way,” only to find ourselves beaten, scarred, busted, and way off track by the time we reach our destination. 

Point: Your heart is like an outdated GPS that will leave with flat tires, busted shocks, and more than a few stains on the upholstery. Why not give your heart to Jesus and let Him take the wheel? 

After all, He’s already been smoothing out the road. 


The Preciousness of Wisdom

Hello, Dear Reader. I am a rarity to this blog, but I have come to share with you some truths of Wisdom which I have gleaned.

Last Summer, I found myself in a particularly tough place in regards to dating relationships. The person I was with for a period of three months was someone of immoral character and rebellion. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and I, being the naïve woman looking for a nice and caring fellow, fell into the trap of enticement.

During the last couple of weeks of my relationship, I was interested in reading Scripture, but it was rooted in how I wanted to prove to my parents that this person I spent time with was worth the time I had invested. I began to read through Proverbs for a short time, but once my relationship ended I began to have a bitterness fester within my heart due to some underlying problems with self-image and self-value.

I have always hated the possibility that one day I would live up to my middle name which means “bitterness,” yet that is exactly what I had become: a bitter young woman, full of rebellion against my upbringing. I spent a majority of my time during the last half of last year and the first part of this year in hate and corruption of the mind and heart, and the worst part was that I knew exactly how to remedy that pain I put myself through.

In a paper I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I stated:

“I know that God is real and loving and forgiving; I know with all certainty that He wants me to come to Him. Even so, I do not want the help that He has to offer my wounded and rotting spirit. I do not want to muster up the courage it takes to allow Him to scrape the putrid rot from my soul, just as a doctor must scrape and clean a burn victim. I do not want the comfort that He sends me through the gracious acts of others as they hold me and speak life into my heart. I do not want what I need. I want my own efforts to win over. Never have I understood so clearly how a dying man fights for his last breath – until now. I know that God is real, but I would rather trust my fingernails for security.” – The Strength of My Own Fingernails

Now, as I am recovering from this season of life, I can look at Scripture again with a refreshed mind and soul. Here is what I have learned from Proverbs 2:

Wisdom is:

  • A protector via discernment (v. 3)
  • A saving grace from wicked people (v. 12-19)
  • Something which only comes from the Lord (v. 6)
  • Something which must be sought out (v. 1-5)
  • Something which has value (v. 4)

Sterling Silver

In verse 4, Solomon refers to the value of Wisdom as being like that of the value of silver. This precious metal has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, including a piece which is now on my left ring finger. I wear a sterling silver band for several reasons, one of which to serve as a reminder that God’s Wisdom is something to be cherished. If only I had listened to the teachings of this Word and my parent’s concerns before taking my course of actions last year! I would have saved myself so much heartache and regret!

Wisdom is worth seeking out; it is a treasure to obtain. The catch is this: you must be willing to sacrifice your personal agenda in order to journey to find this treasure. It was only after I sacrificed my lifestyle and my hurt to Christ that I was able to access the Lord’s Wisdom again. If you want this treasure, it must be the only thing you seek.


The End Result of Knowledge

Week Two – Chapter Two

Here we are in the second week of our new study (or thinking) through the book of Proverbs, and I am excited to share with you what the Spirit lays on my heart. When the other authors’ schedules clear, you will be enjoying a greater variety of “thought.” But until that happens, I am determined to keep the posts coming on a daily basis, even if I have to write them all.

However, I’m not exactly protesting; I love to read God’s word and share what I find! Every time I sit down with my Bible I learn something. Every time I sit down to write I receive a blessing. Really, it’s not a chore; it’s a joy.

Determined

Speaking of determined, the first four verses of Proverbs chapter 2 are full of language that describes someone who is determined to learn. Should Solomon’s son be one that listens to his words and takes his advice to heart, he will be the type of person whose appetite for knowledge and understanding is insatiable. For example, a genuine learner will do the following:

  • listen hard to wisdom
  • apply his heart to understanding
  • cry after knowledge
  • call out for understanding
  • seek and search, like as for silver or hidden treasure

Sounds like the perfect student, doesn’t it? Do you have that kind of desire to learn? Many people do, and they are usually the doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs that make us all jealous of their success.

All it takes is determination.

What We Find

But what Solomon says we find when we diligently seek after knowledge is not what the modern mind assumes; as the wise person increases in knowledge and understanding, he better understands the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. (emphasis mine)

There used to be scientists who, when they studied, gained a greater appreciation for the Creator.

“When I was young, I said to God, “God, tell me the mystery of the universe.” But God answered, “That knowledge is reserved for me alone.” So I said, “God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.” Then God said, “Well George, that’s more nearly your size.” And he told me.” – George Washington Carver

These days all we hear about are scientists, etc., who seek to learn only to prove to themselves that there is no God. They miss the point of learning and have no fear of the Lord, much less a greater understanding of the Creator and the mystery of His creation.

If there seems to be a void in your education, you may have been listening to the words of the wrong Solomon. The end result of a search for knowledge and understanding should be anything but atheism.