Category Archives: Paths of Life

Grow from Instruction

Proverbs 10:17

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”

Customer Service

I worked in some capacity of customer service in the retail world for nearly a decade. I am pretty good at it, because I so enjoy interacting with people.

While the height of customer service is keeping people happy, I must admit to times I did not want to live by that standard (and must confess to not always upholding that standard, but I also know the saying “the customer is always right” was stated by fools!). Yet, I mostly did stick to making customers happy.

As an employee and an employer, I have worked with people of all ages who saw no point in making others happy.

You would think, after being corrected time and again, even being required to do the most mundane (and sometimes humiliating) tasks as punishment, would convince them to change, but no.

You would think losing hours and therefore money would convince them to change, but no.

You would think the threat of losing their jobs would convince them to change, but no.

They did not seem to care about others, or for anything.

Painful Growth

Those of us who persevered and kept our jobs (usually until we moved on to something else!), as I confessed above, had our own share of mistakes and problems. There are two main differences between us and those who refused to listen:

  1. We would not complain about how unfair everything was, but more importantly,
  2. When corrected, we sought to change wrong or ignorant behavior.

Nobody likes to hear they have messed up. Nobody likes to be told they are wrong. It hurts our feelings. It hurts our pride.

But we grow from that experience and pain.

It is the same in our walk with God.

God does not call us to leave behind our desires, our wants, and our sins to hurt us, though it does hurt when we leave them. God call us because He knows that when we persevere through the pain we prove we are truly His.

“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. … (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Hebrews 12:4-6, 11

Great God, thank You for Your rebukes and correction. Help us to be obedient, to love Your instruction. Keep us from the foolishness of refusing wisdom and Your will.

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Don’t Fake It

Proverbs 10:9 

“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.”

Walking Righteously

When I was a child I would watch my pop walking around wherever he worked, and he looked confident and like he knew where he was going. I saw many more people (my parents, my friends, my parents friends, many CEO’s of companies, male, female, etc.) looking confident and like they knew where they were going.

There are three things I learned while growing up:

  1. Many people are faking it.
  2. Many people are distracted by the worries of this world (meaning they are probably angry or self-righteous about something) which helps with looking confident or like they know where they are going.
  3. A few people have real confidence and really know where they are going, and many of them have peace.

Self-righteous, Angry, and Faking It

The problem with faking it, living angry, and being self-righteous is that … everyone knows! Most people are able to tell who is faking it, angry, or self-righteous.

These are people tend to make excuses or shift the blame.

The problem with making excuses and shifting blame to someone or something else is that the truth eventually comes to light, and it can be embarrassing when the truth comes out.

Knowing Peace

It is much better to walk a righteous – an upright – life. You can “walk surely,” or, as the NIV puts it, “The man of integrity walks securely.”

When living a morally upright life, you can have confidence in what you are doing.

When following Jesus Christ, you know exactly where you are going.

When trusting in God, you have peace.

As discussed several times earlier, Jesus Christ is our Peace, our Path, our Righteousness, and our Assurance. When we walk  in His Holy Spirit, we are covered with Him. We walk in peace and righteousness assured that our path leads to glory and everlasting life.

Gracious God, we praise You for Your greatness and great love. Thank You for peace and righteousness, for giving us Your assurance through the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help us live in that peace. Help us walk in Your ways. Give us assurance through Your Spirit in our salvation and Your Return.


Expect Danger

 Proverbs 9:18

“But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

The Monsters are Out

Believe it or not, (as of this writing) October 31st is still over three months away, but Halloween merchandise is already on the shelves. Unbelievable.

Just yesterday my wife and girls and I dined at a local restaurant called Cracker Barrel. As soon as we walked in the door the first thing that caught my eye was a plate covered in eye balls. How disgusting! Now, for the next three months any time I go for breakfast, lunch, or supper, I can count on being welcomed by witches, monsters, spiders, black cats, and dismembered body parts. Well, at least I will know what to expect.

Knowing What to Expect

Speaking of knowing what to expect, have you ever watched a scary movie? Why is it that some people can go to a movie that clearly promises slimy creatures will leap off the 3-D screen into their lap, only to scream bloody murder when it happens? Didn’t they know it was going to happen?

And what about the typical victims in horror films? Have they never seen a monster movie? As movie-goers, we know what to expect, so why don’t the actors?  In every movie there is always someone who is stupid enough to ask for a cup of sugar from the shadowy neighbor in the dark, bat-infested mansion.

Here’s a suggestion: the next time you hear a strange noise in your house, don’t pick up a shoe and walk blindly into the dark saying, “Is anyone there?” Of course someone’s there! Would you expect the monster in the dark to respond by saying, “Yes, I am here…hiding in the corner on your left…waiting to attack you?”

When you hear a bump in the night, don’t assume it is Santa Claus coming early – expect danger!

Unaware of the Danger

But here’s this poor, naive traveler who, like a fool, is falling prey to temptation. What is he thinking? Doesn’t he know what lies waiting for him just inside the door? Evidently not.

Unlike a house that looks like it should be on the cover of Dracula’s Home and Mortuaries, Miss Folly’s crypt could pass for Cinderella’s castle, or at least Aunt Bea’s house on The Andy Griffith Show. In order to draw the naive traveler from the “right way,” the house of the temptress will usually appear completely innocent, much like a Venus Flytrap does to a fly.

But unaware of the danger; unaware that just inside are the remains of many men; unaware that some are languishing in torment just beneath the floor;  the traveler can think of nothing but the promise of pleasure. He doesn’t know what to expect, but he should. That’s why Solomon wrote this chapter.

A Prayer

Dear God, open our eyes to the wiles of the Devil! Help us warn the naive travelers down as they try to travel down the “right way.” Then protect us, Heavenly Spirit, from the veiled and alluring traps set before us. As we travel through the valley of the shadow of death, may your rod and staff keep us on the right path.


Self-controlled

Proverbs 9:12

“If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”

The Loud Mouth

Have you ever been around (or even been) that person who has to point out all the flaws? What about that person who gossips or cannot keep a secret? What about that person who just seems like a jerk?

Would you trust this person with a secret? Would you trust this person with almost any information? Would you want to hang out with this person?

Imagine for a moment (if you have to) that you are that person?

How would you feel if no one trusted you? How would you feel if no one wanted to be near you (at least for very long)?

What if you were struggling with something? What if you were depressed or in need?

That person – you – would have to bear that burden, and every burden, alone.

The Self-Controlled

The person everyone wants around them is the one who is trustworthy, can keep your confidence, and is generally genial.

Some people do not like these people (such as loud-mouths, jerks, etcetera), usually because the one who is self-controlled and wise embodies everything they are not. They might assume that the self-controlled person is arrogant and conceited. (This happens with many Christians)

The benefit to be self-controlled, though, is that life can seem pretty good. You have friends who can help you. You have loved ones near you when you are in need in any way.

We could almost say you should be wise and self-controlled for your own good.

As a reminder, Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God. Therefore, the only true way live a wise and self-controlled life is with Christ.

O Lord, Your way is the only way. Give us our self-control that we do not destroy ourselves. Send Your Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us in all wisdom. Not only that we may benefit and even find eternal life, but that You may be glorified in our lives.


A Timely Missing Post

Proverbs 9:6

“Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”

A while back, in the process of re-posting entries, I found that Proverbs 9:6 was not only left off the blog, but out of the book! (click here to purchase) That’s terribly embarrassing, especially since all the editing that had been done. Therefore, this post is what you could call a “web exclusive!


Forsaking

The first word in this verse is an imperative: forsake.  It’s not a word that suggests temporarily turning away, but abandonment. To forsake something is like saying “to heck with you,” turning on one’s heels, walking out the door, slamming it, going to the airport, buying a plane ticket, arriving at the destination, then burning one’s passport.

Why are simple words hard to understand?

Foolish

If you have been reading Proverbs at all, even the least bit, you should be aware what foolishness is. Foolishness is man’s wisdom, not God’s. Foolishness is acting stupidly, even when you know there is a better way. Foolishness is rebellion, selfishness, seeking one’s own way, and never caring where the road leads, just as long as the trip is fun.

The “foolish” we’re commanded to forsake could be a combination of things. The “foolish” could be people, ideas, actions, philosophies, worldviews, attitudes, etc. There are foolish friends, foolish plans, foolish job opportunities, foolish desires, and foolish dreams – all of which lead down a bad road.

Forsake the foolish, and you might survive; don’t, and you’re in trouble.

The Way

The “way of understanding” can be interpreted as the “right” way, or even the way on which wisdom has already walked. It is the way in which people walk who walk in wisdom, seek wisdom, and love wisdom.

When we walk in the “way of understanding” we consider the consequences of each step and the direction we are going. The direction is a 180 away from foolishness.

Living

But why is it that so many are more likely to hold on to the “foolish” rather than travel in the way of understanding? Instead of walking out the door and leaving the old ways behind, why is it that so many are more apt to slam the door from the inside, lock it, and turn up the music? The reason is based on one’s understanding of “living.”

playstationOne beer company is famous for touting the “high life.” Another shows people partying away the night saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Everything from hotels to video game systems have encouraged consumers by promising, “This is living!”

Funny. Even kind of ironic, I must say. It’s hard to go down any path when you’ve locked yourself inside with computer game.

Timely?

Yes, this post is technically 2 years late. On the other hand, God knew exactly who would be writing it and what would be going on. As my daughter Katie looked over my shoulder and read the proverb about which I was to write, she said, “Well, that’s timely…”

This week we’ve dealt with foolishness, the foolish, and an unwillingness to forsake it. I have personally witnessed a close family member, blinded by a lack of wisdom, detail a specific plan for destruction. I’ve even faced down a foolish physical threat. Foolishness…simply foolishness.

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. – Proverbs 16:25

Forsake foolishness and live, or shut the door and die. The way is up to you.


Eternal Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-5 

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

Made-Up or From Before

Many in our world today will try to tell you that truth is what you make it. Wisdom is understanding how your world works for you.

In other words, make it up as you go along! You are what you want to be!

In a sense, that last part is true. We have a tendency to get in our own way, because we do not believe we can do something we are able to do. Or we do not believe others can love us. Or we believe that God cannot forgive us for what we have done.

But we know this is not true, because the Bible tells us so. We read just a few days ago:

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

Wisdom, whom we have discussed is God and realized in Jesus Christ, was established in eternity. This means wisdom is not something we can just make work for us or discover in ourselves.

Built, Bread, and Wine

Jesus Christ proved His Godhood through the Resurrection and ascension. He has told us:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:2-3 KJV

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” – Luke 22:19-20 KJV

The Moral

Jesus of Nazareth has built His house (the Church), has killed the “beasts” (sin and death), and sent out His call (the Great Commission).

To leave “simple ways,” seek understanding, turn from foolishness, and find wisdom is to find Jesus.

Father, thank You for revealing Your Son, Jesus Christ, to the world. Thank You for Your Wisdom and grace, as revealed through Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for preparing a place for us. Help us to cling tightly to our Lord, and help us to introduce Your Wisdom to the world through love, grace, forgiveness, gentleness, and humility, as Your Son did for us.

 

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Abundant Results

Proverbs 8:20-21

“I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”

In the Midst

I used to work in a college textbook store. It required a balance of maintaining enough stock, having trustworthy and hardworking employees, and great customer service. It also required a watchful eye to detail and an understanding of when and how to trust people.

There were always people trying to steal textbooks to sell “back” to other stores or to us from other stores. Sometimes this included employees from stores.

I had gained the reputation of catching thieves, and my store had virtually no thefts for over a year (other than a few small general merchandise items).

Not only that, for the first time in almost 40 years in the company, my store had a perfect inventory.

That caused my superiors to wonder, because the last several times there were perfect inventories…people were covering up theft.

When I became manager, I decided immediately to document everything and double-check everything. I am in no way claiming to be perfect, and I did make some mistakes from time to time. However, when my superiors came in to test me and confirm my inventory, they were impressed with my level of documentation and confirmed the numbers.

On two different sides, theft and inventory, I was being watched and judged. It was only my committment to God and His Word that helped me maintain that order.

Following Wisdom

We all live in a world that hates truth and the things of God.

If you are a Christian, you will walk a narrow path between two groups judging every step you take: those who hate Christians and those who look for any reason you might not be a Christian (some call these the legalists).

However, if you are following Jesus (the true Wisdom of God), then you will overcome these judgements against you in this world.

If you live by what God has said, you will have life abundant.

If you follow Jesus, you will inherit everlasting life.

Jesus said “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29, NIV)

Lord, help us to follow You. We know it will be hard. We know it will bring troubles to us in this life. We know we can only make it with your help. Give us Your strength and wisdom to live a righteous life, holy and pleasing to You.

 

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