Category Archives: conversation/speech

Marriage Advice … for All

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Proverbs 11:12, ESV

Today happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary.

Any good husband will tell you there is a time when you should just keep your mouth shut and listen to your wife.

Honestly, it is advice that can go both ways. Neither partner should be so prideful as to assume you know everything better than the other. Mutual communication benefits both!

Conversely, it is unwise to speak down to the other. Belittling – literally causing someone’s ideas and character to seem small and meaningless – only creates pain and bitterness. It is no longer a partnership but a tyranny, and even more confusing when both are guilty of this. Whoever belittles attempts to control the other, and this means slavery and problems.

It is best to work together and be willing to hear each other out.

And, yes, I may be talking about married couples, but this advice applies to any relationship, even with strangers.

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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.


Signing A Book

The Book

Some of you may remember when we first came out with the book version of this blog. It was back in 2014, and we had hopes of putting all of our original “thoughts” in print.

Unfortunately, due to the size of the whole project ( approximately 350,000 words!), all we ended up having published was Volume One. And sadly, Volume One only contained “thoughts” from the first ten chapters of Proverbs.

Had we had more help with publishing and promoting, the rest of Proverbial Thought may have found its way to a bookstore near you. But hey, at least one book got completed and published, and you can still order it online 🙂

The Autograph

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was with several other men at breakfast when one of them, an older man, introduced himself and then asked my name. When I said “Anthony Baker,” he replied, “Baker? Do you write about Proverbs?”

“Why, yes I do,” I answered.

“Well, what do you know!” he exclaimed. “I read your Proverbs blog all the time! Been reading it for a couple of years!”

Now, I don’t know how you would’ve felt, but I was stunned. Then, to add amazement to the mix, I found out Proverbial Thought had helped this gentleman recover from a traumatic brain injury by helping him keep his mind working (at least that what another man sitting nearby told me)!

Myself and Bob Neely. He doesn’t look it, but he was actually happy 😉

Then, just this morning, Mr. Bob Neely came by my table where we were sitting for breakfast once again, and what did he have in his hand? A marked-up copy of Proverbial Thought: Volume One! Mr. Neely had purchased the book not long after it was published, but today I got to autograph it.

Cool! Absolutely cool!

Suggestions for the Future

Mr. Neely and I stood and talked a few moments as he passed the book around to the other men at the table. During the conversation, he told me: “I’m really glad y’all started over with some new stuff on Proverbs – I was glad to see it.”

Then Mr. Neely asked: “What are you going to do next? Could you do something on the Book of James?”

“Believe it or not,” I replied, “others have suggested the same thing.”

So, get ready… Proverbial Thought (& More) may evolve into a lot more!


Let this be an encouragement to all of you guys (and ladies) who contribute to this blog. We may never know this side of heaven how God is using what we write, but He has promised that His Word will not return void.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11 KJV

To God be the glory!


Good Speech

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. –Proverbs 4:24

Do not be confused: it does say “froward” and not “forward” in this verse. Other translations say instead “deceitful” or “crooked”. Most translations still keep the word “perverse” in there somewhere.

Do not be deceived: Nor deceive. This proverb is reminding us that it is not okay to lie (the 9th Commandment, Exodus 20:16), and telling us that it is not good to “have a foul mouth” or denigrate others or … tell dirty jokes.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 4:26; 5:4, NIV

(See also Colossians 3)

Look at the world today, especially in the United States of America. How many people are stepping down or being fired from positions of power because of comments or jokes they have made?

It is not okay to talk this way, to lie, to objectify others, to speak flippantly about matters or people, to use “bad words.”

Does this mean we can never tell jokes?  Of course not. (I would be in so much trouble if this were true!)

However, we should “Be wise in the way you act toward [others]; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,” (Colossians 4:5-6) so that we may remain “blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’” (Philippians 2:15)

As I have told many friends, especially those who work with children, it is better to be in the habit of not using certain words than to let them slip out when we least want them to.


When Silence is Self-Hate

Proverbs 29:24

“Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.”

Bewrayeth

When was the last time you used “bewrayeth” in a conversation? I don’t know if I have ever even seen it in a crossword puzzle. But before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand this old English word.

According to Strong’s Concordance,  the Hebrew נָגַד (nagad ) occurs 370 times in the King James Version. Besides “bewrayeth,” nagad is translated most often as “tell,” “declare,” and “shew.” Therefore, it is safe to conclude that “bewrayeth” carries with it the idea of making something known or telling it the way it is.

So, then, what does “bewrayeth’ have to do with partnering with a thief and hating one’s soul?

Partners

First, it must be understood that a partner in crime is just as guilty as his other partner in crime. The one driving the getaway car and the one laundering the money are just as guilty of bank robbery as the one who takes the bag of cash from the safe.

Are you a partner with a thief? Do you recoil at that question? Stop and consider that if you know of someone committing a crime, no matter how small, then you are just as guilty if you keep silent. For instance, do you know of a man who beats his wife and yet have never reported the abuse? If so, then you are enabling him to do his dirty work, which makes you his partner in crime.

Self-Haters

The hard thing to grasp is that when we try to stay out of something by remaining silent, we are not doing ourselves a favor. So many people will witness a wrong or learn of a crime, but keep silent in order to protect themselves. But even though one may stay out of the spotlight or courtroom, the one that “bewrayeth it not” hates his own soul.

What is a worse form of hate: to hate one’s body, or hate one’s soul? Which is worse, the fear of jail time or eternal damnation? Simply put, there are deeper consequences for “not getting involved” than for speaking out in the face of evil.

 


Fast Talk

Proverbs 29:20 

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. (NLT) 

The problem with words issued in haste is that they cannot be withdrawn. In this day and age the warning in this proverb should also apply to email. I speak from experience. Several years ago I hit the send button on an email I thought I was forwarding, without checking the email properly, or considering what I had written. I was frustrated with a certain Swedish individual by the name of Lennart who had just informed that he would be unable to translate a couple of documents for at least two weeks. These documents were vital to a report I was required to submit in less than two weeks. In my frustration, I forwarded the email to my boss with the comment; ‘Lazy Lenny says he can’t translate our statements!”

To my surprise, I received a reply almost immediately. Incredibly it was not from my boss but from Lazy Lenny. I couldn’t understand how he had accessed my email, but I felt my face starting to glow and radiate extreme amounts of heat as I read the words; “I am not Lazy Lenny sitting on the beach all day drinking beer!” Various excuses as to why he could not translate the documents sooner were also included. When I looked through the email more carefully I realized my error. I had hit the reply button instead of forward.

My email did spur Lazy Lenny into action and I had my translations later that day, but the point is that I wrote words that were rude in haste. I learned a massive lesson that day: The wisdom of Scripture is as important in our modern electronic age as it was thousands of years ago.

But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned. (James 5:12 NLT)


Rest Will Come…One Day

Proverbs 29:9

“If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.”

The first thing we should understand is that this proverb’s setting, according to most commentaries, is in something like a courtroom. The word “contendeth” implies such. However, as we watch the “wise” contending with “fools” in courtrooms around the world, it is becoming harder and harder to determine which is the defendant.

In most situations, if you were to walk into a courtroom, you would expect the “wise” to be on the side of the prosecution, while the “foolish man” would be the other guy: the one slobbering on himself, freaking out, and making outrageous, unreasonable arguments for his case. But sadly, especially in the cases where God is on trial; where morals, faith, and family are under assault; where Christ is deemed an unnecessary and offensive part of Christmas, the “wise” are on the defense.

Consider the following commentary on Proverbs 29:9. As you read it, think of those who want to remove any resemblance of faith and religion from the public square, such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Richard Dawkins, etc.

He makes his argument not by logic, reason, or clear evidence but in a range of wild responses in which he “rages [a verb for “earthquake” in 30:21; Amos 8:8] or laughs,” probably in a mocking, sneering fashion to try to sway the verdict. The “peace” that ought to come from reconciliation, or at least a sound decision, is impossible. The matter bubbles on interminably to the pain of the wise and the distress of the community.[1]

English: Professor . Español: Profesor Richard...

In a public speech to his fellow atheists gathering in Washington, D.C., Richard Dawkins gave some suggestions. When contending with those who believe in God, especially Christians, he advised: Mock them. Ridicule them. In public…with contempt. Chillingly, in predictive fashion, the Bible says “that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts…” (2 Pet. 3:3). We must be getting close.

One day the Righteous Judge will hold court, but don’t lose hope. Even though we may have acted like fools in one way or another, those of us who’s Advocate is Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 2:1) have nothing to fear. Wisdom personified will argue on our behalf.

The foolish man, however, will be able to argue his own case. And once again, with rage and contempt, spewing out all manner of hatred and vile, he will attempt to justify himself.

But on that day, God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). 


[1] David A. Hubbard and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Proverbs, vol. 15, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989), 462.