Category Archives: counsel

Bring On the Red Ink

doggie dunceIt’s been years since I have taken a written test, but even as an adult I still get some well-suppressed jitters when the paper is handed back.  (That is, unless it’s all on computer; I’m showing my vintage, I suppose.)

Who doesn’t remember the composition class in high school with the completed assignment coming back marked up in red from the teacher?  And I only made it to trigonometry and “college math” when I was in high school—I begged off from calculus, thank you very much.  My first trig exam came back into my hands with something like an 11 out of 40 or 50. (I still distinctly remember that “11” at the top of the page.)

Thankfully, nursing school didn’t need calculus or trig, but since this was before the days of ubiquitous computerized machinery—or Google—we needed a special form of math that had to do with calculating IV drip rates, converting “household” and “apothecary” measurements into “metric” portions, and the like.  There’s no wiggle room in this kind of math—the patient’s health (and life) depended on it. 

I’m not sure what kind of memories King Solomon was drawing upon when he wrote this…

“To learn, you must love discipline;
    it is stupid to hate correction.”

…but he may have had a time when he also hoped his own personal physician hadn’t tried to cheat, fake or argue his way through medical school. 

To be a student of any kind takes discipline, and discipline takes humility.  It means embracing the (eventually inevitable) fact that I’m not smart enough on my own to get it right the first time.  Maybe not even the second or third.  That someone may actually know more than me.  That knowledge and skill comes only with persistent personal application, and that, in itself, comes with the price of time and sacrifice.

In reality, the dunce hat doesn’t belong to those who make mistakes, but to those who refuse to learn from them, and from others.

Your future “patients” will thank you.

Proverbs 12:1 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.

Doggie Dunce photo from StrangeDangers.com, Google Images

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Your sty, or mine?

pig-214349_1920My grandfather used to raise hogs.  I remember as a kid how grandma would have the runts up at the house trying to feed them in the off-change they might decide to live.  And to this little girl, they were sooOOO000ooo adorable!  I was such an animal lover, and I would naturally end up naming them, like Sylvester Pigsley. 

Then one of them would succumb and grandma would just as naturally heave it over the fence.  (Can’t remember if it was Sylvester or not, but it was quite the education for a young suburbanite…)

I have also since learned that pigs are not overly discriminating with their dietary preferences; neither is keeping their personal space clean a high priority, thus our comments to the teenager’s room looking like “a pig-sty”. 

Okay, I’m still a suburbanite, but to this day I think a pig’s reputation gets a bit of a bum rap.  I’m told they are actually one of the more intelligent barnyard animals, rolling around in mud and eating slop notwithstanding.  All that intelligence is just hidden under gross and grunts.

Interestingly, the opposite is true with Solomon’s comparison.:

A beautiful woman who lacks discretion
    is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.

In this example, we have all the beautiful trappings on the outside hiding what’s really within.  Now, here’s a guy with more than a little experience—something like 700 wives and 300 pseudo-wives.  I’m sure he had his share of less-than-discreet, (not to mention the hormonal drama…gag!)  Plus, consider that being in such a position of social and political power put him at higher risk when it came to the consequences of indiscretion.

Because it wasn’t merely about what she wore (or didn’t wear), but also about how she saw herself in relation to those around her.  A woman of true discretion knows that she has a “hidden congregation”, areas of influence, some of which she is aware, and some not.  By inference, this means people are watching and listening,…and learning.  

It also means that her decisions, her responses, her words, are a reflection on those who are dear to her, to their reputations as well.  How does what I say and do honor my husband and children, my parents, other Christians, and more importantly, my Lord?

people-2587456_1920Once again, as usual, it’s not just about me.  I may not be a king’s wife, but I am a King’s daughter.  (And with or without the gold ring of beauty, I have a crown.)

Proverbs 11:22 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.


How Do YOU Respond To Correction?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:8‭-‬9, KJV

Schooling

I taught 7th Grade mathematics last year. There were a handful of students who, whenever corrected or disciplined, would lash out. One in particular said he hated me. Who was I to tell him how to live his life?

Most of the students in the class reacted negatively to correction, to be honest, but a few (and eventually more) saw the benefits of following through with the correction. Somehow, I became the favorite teacher of many students.

The Church

Now look at the yourself and even others in the Church. When presented with biblical truth about sin, what is the response?

If your reaction is to lash out, deny, or get angry, ask yourself, Why? If it is not true, why get upset?

Fighting a correction can cost more than listening, such as hurt/broken relationships and/or wasted time.

The wise person wants to change, for the goal is to be Christ-like, perfect as God is perfect. You may even find you love that person more for helping you grow closer to Christ.

That is not possible if we continue in sin.

Refusing to even acknowledge the need for correction could imply you are heading the opposite direction, and you come to hate those who offered the correction.


Honoring Mothers

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: – Proverbs 6:20 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, but today is the last day in Proverbs chapter six. Therefore, I thought I would go ahead and give a little shout-out to my mom, Marie Baker. I thank God for her and for her wise counsel. I could have been a completely different person without a godly mother like her.

To her credit, I don’t think my mother would have turned out the way she did had it not been for her own godly mother, Lorene Cagle, my granny.

Then there was my dad’s mom, Mary (Hughes) Baker. She was an interesting woman to have as a grandmother…half Cherokee, the wife of a tractor-driving moonshiner, and one who threatened to “wear me out” if I ever got into a fight I didn’t win. She might not have been the “godliest” woman, but nevertheless I remember some of her advice to this day.

1941 Bunting Glider

Just this week I finished restoring a vintage 1940’s-era front-porch glider. The glider has been in my family (on my dad’s side) since it was new, but it had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and exposure to the elements. I kept track of the restoration project with photos I posted on Facebook, noting the effort was an act of love for Mother’s Day.

I finished it on Friday, and my mom was completely thrilled with the result.

This morning I recorded a sermon to be aired on the radio tomorrow afternoon. Believe it or not, I preached from this very chapter, specifically from Proverbs 6:20-23. The main point that I tried to make was how godly and wise instruction from a wise and godly mother can make a huge difference in our lives.

We are told to “bind” the instruction of our fathers and mothers to hearts, even to tie them around our necks (v.21). The reason for this is pretty simple…

When you walk here and there, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you wake up, they will talk to you. For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life. – Proverbs 6:22-23 CSB

How valuable are the teachings of a godly mother? Think about it:

  • Wherever you roam, no matter how far you go, a mother’s guidance can give direction, keeping you from dangerous paths.
  • Sleep can be peaceful, restful, and restorative when you lie your head down knowing you’ve done things correctly, have no regrets, have confidence in the future, and know you’re loved.
  • As you go through your day, as you face new circumstances, the godly wisdom of a godly and wise mother will surface in your memory, giving you the sense that you’re not alone in the decisions you must make.

How many lives have been shattered on the rocks of misfortune, all because they didn’t listen to their mothers?

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
-Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President

When all the matriarchs in my life are gone on, and one day when I’ve passed on to my own heavenly reward, I hope my children will remember the impact my mother and grandmothers made on my life.

Maybe they’ll think about them as they sit on that old, front-porch glider.


Heeding the Warning

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

I look for the context when trying to understand any message better, so when I hear the warning summed up in verses 12-14 in this part of the proverbs, I look to the verses preceding it to understand why it is given.

The audience of this passage is being urged to listen to a particular bit of wisdom and not forget it: keep far away and do not come near (being unfaithful to God). I see this as a big, bold-lettered sign on the straight and narrow path saying “wrong way” or “danger, keep out”. This is a warning against things of the flesh, the ways of the world, or in other words, that which causes us to sin (to separate ourselves from God).

It can be rather easy to get caught up in our own designs, or so focused on following certain directions (like a figurative GPS) that we miss the warning right in front of us. Honoring others and putting our trust in false teachings or false teachers will lead away from the best path, no matter how good it sounds or in line with current thinking. Yet, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the unfamiliar territory and turn away.

Giving our years to the merciless, those who do not have our best interests at heart will lead to wasted time and possible destruction. For when we follow someone else’s plan, as opposed to Gods, many wrong turns and necessary U-turns will be sure to follow. Yet again, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the wrong turns ahead and continue on the straight and narrow path instead.

As much as any journey is to be enjoyed, wrong turns and wasted time can be exhausting. And when the purpose of the journey is for anyone or anything against God’s glory, it is worthless, for “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Instead, adhere now to God’s wisdom and see the danger in being unfaithful to Him, lest you find yourself on the path to utter ruin.

 

 


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.